When we announced that Ed-Fi was adopting an open-source licensing structure earlier this year, we had two larger goals in mind. First, we wanted to formally acknowledge that our community was already operating as an open-source community and match the licensing structure to that practice; and second, we wanted to open the door to contributions from platform leaders who had been looking for a way to contribute their technical expertise to the Ed-Fi Community.  

Fortunately, we had an outstanding project that was a perfect fit for our friends at Google Cloud to tackle; converting the Ed-Fi ODS/API to a new updated framework. Once complete, the project will enable state and local education agencies to use Ed-Fi’s cutting-edge technology and make connecting these data sources more secure and easier to deploy for schools and education communities. By supporting this work, Google Cloud and Ed-Fi can now offer an open-source, cloud-native Ed-Fi deployment previously unavailable.

Ultimately, this work will allow more school districts to take advantage of interoperability.  The work with Google Cloud will enable districts of any size, with any budget and varied technical expertise to stand up an Ed-Fi ODS / API.  At Ed-Fi we are always thinking about how to make these tools more accessible, easier-to-use and available to more educators. The work with Google Cloud will help our community to take a giant leap forward putting connected data into the hands of educators across the country.  

Ed-Fi ODS/API Gets a Makeover to .NET Core

The Ed-Fi ODS / API software is at the heart of all Ed-Fi implementations, serving as the neutral point of exchange for data originating from a SIS, Assessment, and other data systems, and data flowing out for analytics and reporting. And it needs a makeover. 

The application relies on a now outdated technology component, .NET Framework 4.8. This framework requirement makes it difficult to run the ODS/API efficiently in cloud platform managed services. Ed-Fi community members have raised concerns about this in many forums over the past few years. The ODS platform development team is responsible for maintenance of the ODS/API, and there has been no shortage of new feature requests for the team to handle. Thus, the product owner’s dilemma: prioritize elimination of technical debt (old framework), or development of in-demand new features? 

Why not both? In short: resource constraints. The ODS platform team has the talent, but not the hours, to complete both prioritizes in 2020. That’s where the new open-source licensing comes into play: the Google Cloud team is providing the resources for Innive, Inc. to continue the conversion work that the ODS platform team has already started, for the benefit of the entire Ed-Fi Community. 

Running as a separate Scrum team in coordination with the Ed-Fi Alliance, Innive developers are working in parallel with the feature development team for the next several months to prepare for an autumn release.

The team’s priorities are guided by Vinaya Mayya, product owner for the ODS/API, and Certica’s Jim McKay, developer on the ODS Platform team, is shadowing the team for code reviews and technical implementation issues. The Google Cloud team will oversee the work and ensure that the outcome is well tuned for deployment on Google Cloud. Mayya notes that, “The technology needs of Ed-Fi’s growing community are manifold – to me, it means a growing list of highly desired features being designed and discussed, but with no ability for the core team to commit to them in the roadmap. Converting the ODS/API source code to .NET Core will allow the community to achieve more scalable and cost-effective deployments. Collaboration with Google Cloud is allowing us to scale up as an open-source community to deliver this highly sought update.” 

Being “open-source” means the source code for the ODS/API, ODS Admin App, and other applications is now freely available – and anyone is welcome to contribute. Having the resources of Google Cloud is fantastic, and the Ed-Fi Alliance could not be more excited about having their support. And anyone, large or small, individual or corporate, is welcome to contribute.

Interested in helping out? Please see Code Contribution Guidelines in Tech Docs for more information on how to get started as an open-source code contributor.

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