A New Way To Collaborate On Projects Using The Flower Platform

A New Way To Collaborate On Projects Using The Flower Platform

Open source software (OSS) is noted for its collaborative model and is often provided free.

Developers creating open source code use licenses that let end users act as co-developers with the ability to modify and add to the source code. In addition, developers frequently act as volunteer committers to design, update and maintain source code without payment.

Because development teams are global, they use a variety of tools to help make working together easier. They might use Skype for Internet phone calls, revision control systems to centrally manage source control files, and mail lists to communicate. However, it is still hard for developers to be able to jointly work on source code–with graphic representations of the design model–and to be able to update it with changes in real-time.

Flower Platform unveiled as open source at OSCON 2013

Cristian Spiescu, CEO, Crispico/Flower Platform, founded Crispico (full name: Crispico Resonate MP4 SRL), based in Romania in 2005. The firm is a branch of the Resonate MP4 Group (based in France) and specializes in building mission critical software for the airport business. Because of the high complexity of the airport business, Spiescu understood the need for an agile development flow combined to various modeling techniques, in order to properly design the architecture of the software and to facilitate its maintenance and evolution. To meet this need, the Crispico team created the Flower Platform, web-based diagramming software with a strong focus on source code. Users can create UML-like diagrams which are synchronized with the source code (code is generated from diagrams, and vice versa: diagrams are updated from code). Users can collaborate in real-time on diagrams and source code and then push modifications to a Git or SVN repository. The platform is designed to minimize overhead and helps developers successfully manage large projects, while allowing them great flexibility.

The Flower Platform tool was open sourced at OSCON 2013 under GPL v3. In his presentation at OSCON, Spiescu stated, “We developed the Flower Platform as an open source tool that provides collaborative modeling and diagramming. When developing code or designing architecture, the ideal would be for developers to be sitting together drawing models on paper. But since many open source teams are located around the world, this is not possible. The free open source Flower Platform tool makes it possible for developers to create diagrams (UML class diagrams, mind maps and others), generate code and work together to sync their ideas.“

How the Flower Platform Works

Using the Flower Platform, a developer can create diagrams, generate code and push the modifications to Git or SVN. The opposite flow is also supported: source code can be imported from Git and SVN, and diagrams can be created from the source code. Diagrams show static structure and are also used to show the flow and ordered interactions between existing source code (such as calls to methods or access to attributes.) On a diagram, the interactions between the code are shown as dependencies.

Developers can collaborate in real time on both diagrams and text source files (language specific syntax highlighting available.) The Flower Platform tool uses color coded markers on diagram elements to show the synchronization status of each element.

UntitledAdvanced code synchronization technology (named CodeSync) automatically implements changes made in a diagram so that the appropriate source code is also updated. CodeSync also limits the possibility of conflicts when modifying the diagrams and code at the same time.

Future of the Flower Platform for Developers

In his open source announcement at OSCON 2013, Spiescu stated, “The Flower Platform is now open software, with an open diagramming/modeling language. A dual licensing system will be made available by Crispico. The code will be available both under GPL v3 license and a commercial license, so that users can chose the licensing model that is more convenient for them.”

The Crispico team is currently working on Flower Platform v2 to build in support for tablets and mobile devices as well as support for IDE plugins and more programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, Ruby and PHP. They are also looking at creating bi-directional data synchronization toward other tools including wikis, issue trackers and code review software. “The open source community will dictate (and contribute) the features they need, specific to their workflows, programming languages and tools. We welcome input as we continue to develop the next release of the Flower Platform,” Spiescu said.

For more information:
http://flower-platform.org/

Flower Platform demo

Linda Barney

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