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From Apache Wiki <>
Subject [Incubator Wiki] Update of "ORDSProposal" by krispopat
Date Wed, 16 Sep 2015 07:41:54 GMT
Dear Wiki user,

You have subscribed to a wiki page or wiki category on "Incubator Wiki" for change notification.

The "ORDSProposal" page has been changed by krispopat:

New page:

ORDS is a user and project centered, web-based  database-as-a-service (DbaaS) system with
data publishing.


ORDS imports data from recognized sources such as csv files, spreadsheets, and relational
database files into structured online databases to provide DbaaS functionality. The databases
are stored in an RDBMS (PostgreSQL with ORM access). It has a full set of high-level tools
for managing and editing these databases, including tools that give users the ability to create
versioned snapshots of data and share specific datasets. New databases can also be created
using these tools.  Databases are housed in projects and associated with users with given
roles. The data can be exported in common formats.


The ORDS system was developed, deployed and utilized at the University of Oxford as an online
tool for researchers working with relational databases.  It offered secure hosting for the
data with sharing and editing interfaces to allow researchers to work together with colleagues
and collaborators to collect, organize, manage data then to to cite research data for publication
audit. The original instigation of the project was in response to requests for a DbaaS system
from university researchers and lecturers.


The team believes strongly that the tools developed within ORDS could relatively easily be
generalized for the wider community; not only the research community but also anyone who has
need for centrally managed data.

There are several underlying principles that should be of interest to the wider community:

 * The database is generated from the data being inputted, so whether the data has been collected
in a spreadsheet or a standalone database it can be imported into ORDS and fully integrates
with the features and tools of ORDS
 * The data is preserved in a managed space
 * The data is citable in a controlled way, i.e. snapshots and subsets of the data can be
defined as publishable
 * All transactions on the data are recorded and are therefore auditable in an easy to manage
 * User roles and containment for the data currently referred to as projects make group management,
control and sharing of the data possible.

While there are larger DBaaS projects such as OpenStack Trove, ORDS provides a relatively
straightforward solution for the “long tail” of “Small Data” commonly found in organisations.

Current Status

ORDS is currently a tool being used by researchers at the University of Oxford.  The same
team is also maintaining the source in an SVN repository.

Information about the service as it stands is available at __


There is a strong belief in the meritocratic model of software development within the team.
 Two of the initial committer list are already committers on Apache projects and have experience
of the Apache way of working.  The intention is to open-source this software and an important
part of doing that is adopting a model which ensures that it is done in a realistic and sustainable
way.  It is the belief of the initial team that the Apache Incubator is the place to encourage
the development of this project and to realize its potential. The team believe that only by
encouraging the community of developers for the project can it exist as sustainable piece
of software.


There are two areas of potential growth for the community of users and developers.  There
is growth in terms of its existing use as a research database system and also growth into
other industries. Both options will be looked into.  Much of the initial funding to develop
the software came from JISC (, who are keen to encourage other UK
universities to evaluate and adopt the ORDS. Work has already been done promoting it’s use
in other universities through the JISC Data Spring initiative which has generated interest
from institutions.

Expressions of interest have been received from the following institutions:

 * University of Bristol
 * University of Southampton
 * University of Leicester
 * University of St. Andrews
 * University of London Computer Centre
 * University of Lincoln

To broaden the reach of the system  a possible avenue is to target companies that help people
move to open source database systems, for instance companies who help with migration them
from  local Access databases to open source dbms.


The code base is written in Java and is managed and compiled using Maven. It uses Tomcat as
its application server.  It uses PostgreSQL as the backend RDBMS.

There is an existing deployed system of the software which has it’s own maintenance schedule,
so we recognise that we would have to maintain updates of the live system whilst the apache
version is not released.  This would mean that some parallel development would be required
until full migration to the apache version is possible.  There is support from the system
administration team for deployed system for transitioning to an apache release.

We are familiar with the release process and recognise that there will be some changes required
in the dependencies.  We have already done some due diligence on dependencies to try and smooth
this process.

''Core Developers''

The core developers are from the University of Oxford and partners of CETIS LLP.  The Oxford
developers are employed partly to support this software and its use in Oxford on an ongoing
basis. However, in order to make ORDS sustainable we need more users and more customers and
the team are fully committed to this and are actively encouraging the systems use and other
collaborators in its development from that user base.


ORDS was created as a service in the Higher Education Sector in the UK funded by JISC.  The
ORDS team believes that the move to a properly managed open source solution would be facilitated
by the use of a formalized ‘incubator’. This would provide the project with a tried-and-tested
governance structure, set of processes, and a model for due diligence.

Known Risks

''Orphaned products''

ORDS will not be orphaned.  The primary backer to this project currently runs it as an ongoing
university wide service with support and maintenance.  It is not envisaged that this would
stop. In fact they wish is to make this software available to the wider community.  This is
also strongly encouraged by the original funders of the project.

''Inexperience with Open Source''

Two of the developers designated as committers on this project already have a history of supporting
open source through their involvement as committers with other Apache projects, namely Apache
Wookie and Apache Rave. All developers also have a history of commitment to open source ideals
in their use of open source repositories for all previous project work.

''Homogenous Developers''

Initially this will be collaboration between the developers at the University of Oxford and
two of the partners of CETIS LLP.

''Reliance on Salaried Developers''

Whilst the Oxford developers are salaried developers there is a commitment to the open source
philosophy and also the continuation and growth of ORDs.  The CETIS partners are contractual
developers, but already have a history of supporting open source development with Apache through
changes in their own roles and circumstances.  Initially we will seek new developers, designers
, testers and documentors from the institutions who have expressed an interest in using the
service.  As stated above we already have several interested parties who wish to use ORDs
for their own researchers.

''Relationships with Other Apache Products''

Several components of the current code base rely on apache commons.  As part of the incubation
process the team would be looking to move the database access to OpenJPA and user authentication
to Shiro.  It may also be useful to utilize Wink for REST services though this would probably
be at a later date.

One of the main design goals for the project is to virtualise Microsoft Access databases,
which also aligns it with Apache Poi.

As an SQL database project it may also find alignment within Apache DB alongside DDLUtils
and Derby.

''Excessive Fascination with the Apache Brand''

Apache has a recognized track record of supporting and encouraging the growth of open source
projects.  The attraction for the ORDS team is in supporting the ongoing development of growth
of the ORDS project recognizing the Apache have a solid foundation for doing this because
of its tradition of upholding good open source practice and philosophy.


Developer and Administration documentation is to be created as part of the incubation process.

Currently overview documentation can be found at:

The ORDS user documentation can be found at:

Initial Source

The initial source is comprised of code written by IT Services at the University of Oxford.
 It is currently hosted in house on a university SVN server. Work is being undertaken to put
all the source under apache 2 licenses, this includes the due diligence on dependencies already
mentioned and making sure correct license notices are included in all sources.

Source and Intellectual Property Submission Plan

Work is currently being undertaken preparing the source for open source distribution making
sure the build system operates in multiple environments. The IP rights to the code can be
transferred from Oxford University (donated) to Apache at the outset or when required - this
has already be agreed with the university.

External Dependencies



OpenHMS Jackcess

Apache Commons


Hibernate – to be replace with OpenJPA?



Spring Framework







RedQueryBuilder (EPL)

JsPlumb (MIT)


Required Resources

 * Mailing lists
  * ords-private (with moderated subscriptions)
  * ords-dev
  * Subversion Directory
 * Subversion directory
 * Issue tracker
  * JIRA ords (ORDS)
 * Wiki

Initial Committers and Affiliations

 * David Paine, University of Oxford
 * James Wilson, University of Oxford
 * Meriel Patrick, University of Oxford
 * Scott Wilson, CETIS LLP, apache id -
 * Kris Popat, CETIS LLP, apache id -

NB. A request has been made by Atri Sharma to join the committers for this project.




Nominated Mentors


Sponsoring Entity


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