In Pictures: Facebook’s most important open source projects

Facebook is the new poster child for progressive contribution to the open source world.

  • For a long time, Google was the darling of the open source community. No other company of its size and influence had been such an open source friend. But there is a new sheriff in town. Facebook is the new poster child for progressive contribution to the open source world. Say what you want about Mark Zuckerberg and crew, but they have gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to open source.

  • Cassandra One of the original big players in the NoSQL game, Cassandra is still a heavyweight when you need Big Data scalability. While Datastax and others offer Cassandra support now, it was originally open sourced by Facebook in 2008. It is now in use by hundreds of large enterprises and organizations. A leader in the big data and NoSQL space, it remains perhaps the biggest contribution from Facebook.

  • Phabricator A potpourri of web-based apps that make it easier for software developers to communicate about software projects, Phabricator includes apps for bug tracking, source code browsing, review code and more. It’s a great set of utilities that make life a lot easier for teams of developing software, and is actively updated by Facebook and the many other companies that are currently using it.

  • HipHop-PHP PHP was for a long time the lingua franca of the Internet. But between security concerns and functionality, many organizations want to upgrade code written in PHP to more powerful languages. But doing so was quite a substantial undertaking in the past. HipHop is an easy and free tool that converts PHP code into C++ code. Coders and hackers really appreciate these kinds of tools.

  • Primer Primer, a JavaScript optimization tool, is a tremendous help to those who are writing JavaScript. For those who have never done coding, it is sometimes hard to appreciate just how valuable these types of tools are. The Facebook team went through the pain and developed this tool to help, and then made it available for everyone.

  • XHP Yet another tool for coders and hackers, XHP is an extension for PHP that allows fragments of docs in XML to be used as PHP expressions. For many of you reading this, that may not sound like a big deal, but if you are making web apps and dealing with data in XML, it is a big help.

  • Apache Thrift Like Cassandra, Facebook also donated Thrift to the Apache foundation. A combination software stack and code-generation engine, Thrift offers compatibility between several programming languages, including Java, Python, PHP, and JavaScript.

  • Corona Released for open source this past November, Corona is the result of Facebook’s attempt at “fixing” Hadoop. Corona tries to make Hadoop more efficient, more scalable and more available by re-inventing how jobs are scheduled. It’s unclear why this wasn’t given back to the Apache Hadoop community, but, in either case, Corona is a welcome gift to the open source community at large.

  • Tornado Tornado is an open source version of the web server that powers FriendFeed and is designed to handle high volumes of standing connections simultaneously, which, its developers say, “is ideal for real-time web services.” More than a tool, Tornado is a full-fledged web server for big data issues that Apache and other servers just can’t handle.

  • Apache Hive Yes, Hive is another Facebook contribution that is now used by many people in the big data world. Running on its HiveQL programming language, Hive supports large datasets in Hadoop-compatible file systems. Beyond that, though, Hive has become a vital part of the Hadoop ecosystem. As Hadoop and big data have exploded, so has Hive.

  • Open Compute Project This grand project aims to open source Facebook’s data center architecture for everyone’s benefit. Since starting the project, Facebook has seen a handful of big names in tech join, including HP, AMD, Fidelity,, VMware and Canonical. While the aim of the project is pretty lofty, the Open Compute Project could be the crown jewel of Facebook’s open source activities.

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