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Open Source Group Seeks Support from Higher Ed for Mobile Initiative

Jasig's uMobile project will develop native mobile campus portal apps for smart phones, initially iOS and Android devices.

Jasig is launching a new open source project called uMobile and is calling on colleges and universities to contribute to the effort.

Jasig is a consortium of higher education institutions and commercial organizations from around the world dedicated to the development and promotion of open source software to benefit colleges and universities. It also holds an annual conference spotlighting open source in education. This year's spring conference will be held May 23 to 25 in Westminster, CO.

Among Jasig's projects is uPortal, an open source enterprise portal that's built on Java, XML, JSP, and Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE) technologies, providing a framework for building portals with standards-based integration (including authentication and security applications), single login, and customization.

The new uMobile project will be built on the uPortal framework and will provide portal-like functionality on mobile devices, initially with features like campus maps, directories, RSS feeds, calendars, course schedules, campus news, and other tools common to mobile portal apps. Early development will focus on providing native apps and browser-based portal functionality on iOS and Android devices.

Jasig reported it's "requesting the participation of colleges and universities as contributing stakeholders or early adopters in incubating this new open source project. This team of original contributing stakeholders will have the ability to influence the direction of the project. Jasig is specifically seeking qualified software developers to join in the uMobile development effort and financial support of the initiative."

According to an announcement issued by the group, "uMobile will enable a single code base to provide both browser-based and native-app functionality. Native device integration will include contacts, maps, and email composition. uMobile will boast technologies and development tools for authentication and authorization, user and group management, and layout management capabilities. These technologies and tools are built on the production-proven uPortal framework."

Open source provider Unicon has already thrown in with the project. Unicon is a Jasig contributor and offers services for uPortal in the areas of deployment, customization, integration, and general support for education organizations.

"Unicon is one of many community volunteers actively participating in the uMobile project and development," according to Unicon. "In addition to directly donating a significant amount of its own time, Unicon is also providing a heavily discounted services rate. This special rate is offered to institutions that would like to participate in the core development of the initial phase of the project, by engaging Unicon to work on their behalf."

Current higher education participants include Cornell University, Ohio University, the University of Hull, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, and Yale University, among others, according to Unicon.

Further details about Jasig, uPortal, and uMobile can be found here. A Web presence for uMobile is currently in development, and further details will be revealed at the 2011 spring conference next month. Those interested in contributing to the uMobile effort in the meantime can contact Jasig Executive Director Patty Gertz directly at ed@jasig.org.

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