Open Source Web SDK – Policies and Procedures

Introduction

In my previous article, I shared my thoughts on open sourcing the Sage 300 Web SDK (SDK) and how, in my opinion, this will benefit the Sage 300 Ecosystem.

In this article, I am introducing the SDK as Open Source Software (OSS) and will explain the changes to the original vision since the idea of open source was first presented along with the policies and procedures for the repository.

It’s Available!

The SDK was pushed to the public repository on July 23rd, 2016. The goal was to make this available for our Sage 300 2017 Release (August 2, 2016) and to also have it available for Sage Summit 2016 in Chicago (July 25-28, 2016). We made it by 2 days!

Licensing

The original plan was to use the Apache License 2.0 for our OSS. However, in discussions with our Sage Legal Team and the Open Source Initiative team, The MIT License (MIT) was chosen instead. The license can be found here: https://opensource.org/licenses/MIT

GitHub Repository

Repository Name

The GitHub Repository is SageNADev/Sage300-SDK and can be found here: https://github.com/SageNADev/Sage300-SDK

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Administration

The administration of the repository is performed by Sage’s DevOps Team located in Richmond, BC.

Anonymous Users

The repository is read-only for anonymous users which means that these users cannot “push” their changes into the branches in the repository.

Collaborators

Collaborators are Sage assigned developers and personnel which have write/push access to the branches in the repository.

Collaboration Model

There are two main models for collaboration using GitHub:

  • The Shared Repository Model
  • The Fork and Pull Model

In the Shared Repository Model, in order to allow everyone to “push” to the repository, users have to be granted collaborator permissions. This is a good solution for small teams where members know and trust each other. This model cannot, or should not, be applied to large teams or a public repository where all users have the right to contribute.

In the Fork and Pull Model, any GitHub member can “fork” a public repository. When forking the original repository, another one is created. Modifications can be applied to the forked repository without the changes affecting the original repository until a pull-request is submitted and evaluated by a collaborator who may or may not merge the changes.

Therefore, with Sage in the collaborator role, the model of choice is the Fork and Pull Model.

See the following article on Forking: https://guides.github.com/activities/forking/

Forking and Branches

There is a difference between a fork for an anonymous user and one for a collaborator.

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Story Branches (Private)

Story branches are where the Sage collaborators make modifications and enhancements to the next version of the SDK. However, on GitHub, the repository is either public or private and branches cannot be private in a public repository.

The branch where the work is performed is not ideally suited for public consumption from an interest perspective, but also from exposing the developer and potentially numerous changes.

Therefore, in order to take advantage of GitHub for both public and private development, a Sage collaborator will:

  • Fork the public repository
  • Change the settings of the new fork to private
  • Clone the private version down to their local machine
  • Create a story branch based upon the develop branch
    • Note: Story branches are prefixed with a Version One Story plus Description
  • Make changes locally
  • Commit to the local repository
  • Push up to the private fork
  • Use pull-requests to selectively copy the required branch (develop) to the public repository

The Sage collaborators use squashing in order to reduce the commit history being pushed into the public branch.

Fork (Anonymous Users)

While Sage collaborators used a forked repository for making changes to the public branch, any anonymous user can submit changes to the public repository. However, an anonymous user is not able to commit or push these changes themselves since they only have read-only access.

Therefore, an anonymous user will:

  • Fork the public repository
  • Clone the fork down to their local machine
  • Make changes locally
  • Commit to the local repository
  • Push up to the fork
  • Submit a pull-request, which is evaluated by a Sage collaborator for inclusion into the public repository

Development Branch

The development branch (develop) is just what the name implies as it contains the in-progress contents of the SDK that is currently being worked on for the next release.

Sage collaborators are pushing changes and potentially merging anonymous requests for the next version of the SDK.

Only Sage collaborators can make changes to this branch.

This is the branch to be accessed based upon the following question: “Get me the in-progress version of the SDK that is not ready for release, but is to be released with the next version of the SDK”.

Current Branch

The current branch (master) is the branch which holds the current release of the SDK.

Sage collaborators may push changes to this branch in response to defects or issues either discovered internally or externally which require immediate correction. Any changes to this branch are also made in the develop branch.

Only Sage collaborators can make changes to this branch.

This is the branch to be accessed based upon the following question: “Get me the current version of the SDK”.

Release Branches

The release branches (i.e. release-2017, release-2017.1, etc.) contain the contents for that particular release.

When the next version of the SDK is released, the current branch (master) is copied into a release branch (release-2017, for example), the development branch (develop) is copied to the current branch (master) and then the development branch (develop) becomes the basis for the next release.

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  • There is only one in-progress branch: develop.
  • There is only one current version branch: master.
  • There will be numerous version branches: release-2017, release-2017.1, etc.

Only Sage collaborators can make changes to these branches.

Folders and Files

The folder structure is identical between the development, current and release branches. The folders are used to segregate the various components of the SDK. The contents are different in that they contain content relevant to the version of the SDK that the branch represents.

docs Folder

This folder holds the documentation for the SDK and contains the following sub-folders:

  • development
  • patterns
  • presentations
  • standards
  • upgrades
  • utilities
  • webapi
  • wizards

patch Folder

This folder holds files, if any, regarding any patch work required to the SDK due to late minute changes that were not able to be included in the Sage 300 application. The README file in the patch folder will discuss the patch, the requirements and any steps necessary to apply the patch.

samples Folder

This folder holds the sample projects, which are standalone, runnable versions of different web screens and reports within the Sage 300 application. These samples are to provide implementation knowledge.

src Folder

This folder holds the source files which comprise the wizards and utilities and contains the following sub-folders:

  • utilities
  • wizards

root Files

The branch root not only contains the folders just mentioned, but also contains the following:

  • LICENSE.md
    • A read-only file for displaying the MIT Copyright notice
  • README.md
    • A read-only file for displaying any SDK information on the main GitHub page
  • VERSION.md
    • A read-only file for displaying the current version of the SDK

Release Cycle

The SDK follows the release cycle established in the roadmap for the Sage 300 application. Therefore, new versions of the SDK are released when the application is released.

Approval Timeline

The approval process for changes submitted by anonymous users are performed by Sage collaborators who will review these changes for inclusion based upon the value added to the SDK for the benefit of all users.

Therefore, it is extremely important to provide as much useful information and rational to support the request being made. And, not all requests will be accepted. But, the good news with OSS is that the submitter can still enjoy their version of the SDK even if the request is not accepted.

Sage collaborators will review new pull requests on a bi-weekly basis.

Depending upon the SDK roadmap, Sage collaborators may be working throughout the development cycle on changes and enhancements and will want to potentially include any requests and issues discovered and presented by anonymous users.

Summary

The SDK is released to open source! This article covered the GitHub repository, the license strategy, and policies and procedures pertaining to usage and management of this public repository.

I am excited for the Partner and ISV community to participate and contribute to not only their success, but to the success of the SDK and to other users of the SDK. I look forward to the submissions from the community in modifying and enhancing the SDK.

As a standard disclaimer, any topic in this article is subject to review and doesn’t represent a commitment as to when it will be available.

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Open Sourcing the Web SDK

Introduction

In this article, I want to share my thoughts on open sourcing the Web SDK for Sage 300 and how, in my opinion, this will benefit the Sage 300 Ecosystem.

Open Source Software

Let’s start by first defining what Open Source Software (OSS) is:

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.[1] Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner. Open-source software is the most prominent example of open-source development.[2] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software)

Licensing

We are planning to use the Apache License 2.0 for our OSS as it allows for use of the source code for the development of free and open source software as well as proprietary software. The license can be found here: http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0

 

GitHub Repository

We are planning to use a GitHub repository for the storage, source code management and collaboration of the OSS. Internally, Sage 300c uses GitHub repositories for its web source code.

Ecosystem Benefits

I want to first state that there are two SDK’s for Sage 300:

  • Sage 300 SDK (has been around for years and years)
  • Sage 300 Web SDK

The initial SDK has numerous utilities and tools for generating business views, macros, analyzing data, viewing business view configurations, etc.

The new Web SDK has only a few productivity tools (at the moment) for the generation of the Web UIs in an MVC framework, generating JavaScript code grids and a Resx Generation Utility for converting RC files to Resx files.

Only the new Web SDK will be open sourced.

The Sage 300 ISV and Business Partner community is very active (and vocal too!). This was very evident to me at the recent Business Partner Conference in South Africa where I met with numerous companies and individuals. Their applications, add-ons and plug-ins to the Sage 300 application are very exciting and are part of the community life blood. They have used the existing SDK to build their applications and have enabled compatibility with Sage frameworks and the Sage 300 application.

With the new MVC paradigm, this community will need to re-write their applications for our new Web UI screens. The SDK will provide assistance in getting screens developed quicker by creating Visual Studio Solutions based upon the structures that Sage 300 uses internally. It will also generate code for a screen based upon a business view or a report or a dynamic query, etc. The Code Generation Wizard at this point in time only generates “working code” (it compiles and runs, but only creates the base scaffolding without any “business logic” and only key fields, finder, and action buttons (Save, Delete, Create New)) for a basic setup type screen. The other types of screens (reports, queries, dynamic queries, etc.) generate code, but not a working/runnable screen as these have not been fully addressed in the wizard.

However, all tools can only be so much to everyone in order to consider everyone’s base needs while providing a tool that is easy to use. OSS will allow the community to extend, enhance and tailor the SDK to their specific needs. I believe there to be quite a bit of excitement around this OSS endeavor.

The new Web UI screens have certainly created a lot of excitement for the Sage 300 product and its future. Sage wants this community to be successful in the conversion/re-factoring of their products to the new paradigm. The open sourcing of the SDK will allow those who wish to contribute to the SDK to do so in a way that not only addresses their needs, but potentially the needs of others as well. With this participation, we hope to have a couple of outcomes:

  •  Engagement and Excitement
    • Get ISVs and Partners involved by allowing an ownership stake.
    • Generate excitement not only for themselves, but as an example for others to participate and contribute as well.
    • The community can make the SDK more robust. So, now there will be the opportunity to do so.
  • Faster Pace to Improve/Enhance/Extend the SDK
    • Everyone benefits (Sage too!)
    • The SDK potentially gets uncompleted sections and areas to be completed

Management

There are numerous policies and procedures for OSS in terms of contributions, accessibility, versioning, release cycles, etc. We have not chosen a specific one, but when we do, it will be something that is fairly lightweight, managed by the Sage 300 Framework Group, follows regular release cycles, etc. The goal is to allow the SDK to be enhanced and extended for not only the benefit of the contributor, but for the benefit of all users of the SDK. Therefore, Sage will perform the approval and merging of the contributions.

Summary

I am excited about open sourcing the Web SDK. And from the initial feedback, so is the ISV and Business Partner community. The community will benefit from participating and contributing to not only their success, but to the success of the SDK and to other users of the SDK. Of course, not every member in the community will participate in the contribution process, but this is natural and expected when it comes to OSS. The SDK is a tool to be leveraged by the community as they begin their re-writing/re-factoring journey. And, allowing this community to participate in the success of the SDK while satisfying their needs is not only beneficial but also empowering.

We are targeting a June 2016 timeframe for making the SDK OSS. However, as a standard disclaimer, any topic in this article is subject to review and doesn’t represent a commitment as to when this will be available.