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MoD releases code to GitHub: Our Ideaworks... sort of

'We don’t pretend that the code is the best ever written'

New infantry kit modelled by British troops. Credit: MoD

The Ministry of Defence is to consider making some of its more "sophisticated" software available online, having for the first time publicly released code onto open-source site Github.com.

The web application "Ideaworks" was developed by the MoD'S Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for work collaboration.

A spokeswoman told El Reg: "Now that we better understand how the release process addresses legal, privacy and security issues, Dstl could be in a position to release more sophisticated software onto the internet in the future."

The software was chosen because of its simplicity. Dstl states on Github: "We don’t pretend that the code is the best ever written."

The spokeswoman said: "We wanted to understand what was required to release software under an OSS licence from inside MOD - as other government departments are already doing."

Andy Bell, chief technical officer at Dstl, said the intention is to benefit both the MoD and the public.

"Sharing code in this way allows us to reach out to a wider population of experts, so that they can draw on our work, using the application to potentially improve their products allowing us to learn from their knowledge and expertise, possibly enhancing our code or finding and fixing any bugs," he said.

Other government departments, including the Cabinet Office and the Department for Energy and Climate Change, are already using Github.com to share code publicly.

The Cabinet Office has been pushing for greater use of open source products across government. In its document All About Open Source, it told departments they must consider open source when procuring software, if it is available. ®

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