MuleSource Launches MuleForge for Open-Source SOA

The free ESB vendor thinks users will contribute code in exchange for support.

September 5, 2007

2 Min Read
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Open source ESB vendor MuleSource on Tuesday announced MuleForgeMuleForge, a repository of extensions and applications for its Mule product. The site already hosts more than 40 projects from MuleSource partners, but Mule hopes that it will attract other users, becoming a collaborative development site based around Mule.
Achieving this could be difficult as far as composite applications built on top of the ESB are concerned: Most are developed in-house by enterprises that need to automate some kind of business process, so publishing them for others to use might be seen as giving up competitive advantage. But it could have more success in persuading others to contribute code for service-enablement, enabling more server platforms, mainframes and SaaS providers to be accessed by Mule. Connectivity for a wide variety of applications is a big selling point for an ESB, so enlisting the open-source community to provide some of these for free could give MuleSource a powerful advantage.
As an incentive, MuleSource is saying that some software published on MuleForge will be rolled into the main Mule codebase, and thus officially supported by the vendor. That could be attractive to contributors worried about compatibility of extensions with future versions, as well as to companies who hope to offload support for internal apps. Of course, support is only available to paying customers, who MuleSource estimates make up about a third of Mule's total user base. And which extensions are rolled back into the main Mule code is ultimately up to MuleSource: It won't automatically support everything uploaded to the site.
Like Mule itself, all the MuleForge projects are released under the CPAL (Community Public Attribution License), a relatively new license originally written by enterprise Wiki vendor SocialText. Similar to the better-known GPL, this requires that anyone getting a copy of the program also be given access to the source code, but extends this requirement to cover networked users and adds a condition that the program's authors be given credit. MuleSource also offers traditional per-seat licenses for Mule, and says that in future releases the paid-for version might differ from the free download.

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