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        Caucus & Open Source

Overview
"Open Source" is a blanket term that covers a variety of software projects and licenses that are "open" (and thus free of financial charge) for people to use, modify, and with some limits, republish.  This page describes in detail

  • how Caucus is licensed,
  • our larger hopes and thoughts for Caucus and the open source community, and
  • our cooperative development model.

Caucus Open Source License
Caucus version 5 is free to download, compile, use, and modify, for any purpose by anyone.  There are, however, some limits on republishing or distributing your modifications, depending on what you modified.

Caucus is built in two "layers": a set of pages that define the user interface, and an "engine" that actually interprets the pages.  This is analogous to the web: HTML pages describe how something should look, but a web browser actually interprets them.

In Caucus, the user interface pages are called "CML" pages.  (CML stands for "Caucus Markup Language", not a terribly creative name.)  The interpreter is called, not surprisingly, the "CML interpreter".  Both layers are certified open source, but they use slightly different licenses. 

The CML interpreter is licensed under the Gnu Public License, or "GPL".  The GPL basically says "this software is free, and any modifications or additions you make (that you publish) must also be free". 

The CML pages are licensed under the Common Development and Distribution License, or "CDDL" (typically pronounced "Cuddle"). The CDDL basically says "this software is free, and any of the files that you change must also be free".  Essentially this means that you can add new files (new pages), and they would not have to be free.  And in fact, there are proprietary "add-on" modules for Caucus (that are just sets of new CML pages) that are not open source, and are licensed for a fee.

Both licenses also discourage the use of patents that relate to the licensed software; see the actual text of the licenses, or contact us for more details.

Caucus and the Open Source community
Caucus 5 was released as open source for two very good reasons:

  1. We want people to use it freely, and
  2. We think it is a better business model for us -- to give away the software and charge for support and services.

(In fact, even the Caucus "ocean wave" theme and logo were suggested by the new "wave" of open-source products -- such as OpenOffice, which features seagulls in its logo!)

We also believe that people who use and like Caucus will want to "give back", and help extend its capabilities.  (Some of them already have, even in the earlier, proprietary versions of Caucus -- which is a rather astonishing compliment.)

To that end, we've opened a forum on this site specifically for open-source ideas and considerations.  (See the SITE LOGIN on the left.)  But here are a few suggestions for the technically-minded:

  1. (Small.)  A better 'configure' script.  Caucus could be much more automatic about adapting to different flavors of unix, especially with regard to the (seemingly ever changing) locations of various libraries.
  2. (Medium.)  Provide ways to integrate Caucus items with existing "quiz" and "survey" tools.
  3. (Medium.)  Better adapt Caucus to easy translation to other languages.
  4. (Medium-large.)  Make Caucus run on a Windows server.  (Build a Windows installer, and update older NT-based Caucus code.)
  5. (Big.)  Rewrite the Reload SCORM player to act as a server, and turn Caucus into a full-fledged LMS.
  6. (Huge.)  Rewrite Caucus in JSP.
Note that these are merely suggestions, although they all address real suggestions that we've heard at one time or another.  But no matter the scale of the effort, if you're interested in working with Caucus, we'd like to hear from you.