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IBM wants to contribute software development blueprints to the open source community to help developers make fewer coding flaws. It reckons better practices for software development will flow from its donation of a subset of the IBM Rational Unified Process (RUP), a software process platform.

RUP is a collection of methods and best practices for promoting quality and efficiency throughout software development projects. IBM's donation also brings a foundation architecture and web-based tools for the sharing of software development best practices.

IBM is proposing the contribution to the Eclipse Foundation, an open source community that provides a free, Java-based platform for software development. Eclipse was formed with a software donation by IBM in 2001 and is now an independent foundation with more than 100 member companies from across the software industry.

"IBM is doing for the software development process what Eclipse has done for the integration of software tools, what Apache did for Web application servers and what Linux did for operating systems,” said Daniel Sabbah, general manager of IBM Rational Software.

According to IBM, a lack of standards in core development activities has increased time and overhead as organisations "continually reproduce the myriad processes, plans and compliance documents that are fundamental to software development". Best practices often remain retained within an individual team or company, it adds.

Nearly half of internally developed software projects are reckoned to run over budget. Fifteen to 20 per cent of all software defects reach customers, costing the US an estimated $60bn a year, according to analyst firm the Standish Group. IBM said its donation will help collaboration and the sharing of best practices among independent software vendors and the wider software development community.

"The donation is meant to provide an architecture and tools to seed an ecosystem in which software practitioners, technology vendors, universities, researchers and others can continually communicate, publish and reuse best practices," it added. ®

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