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Open Source

Open Path is open source software, licensed under GPL v3. That means:

  • There are no licensing fees to use the platform
  • The software is available for anyone to use
  • Modifications and enhancements made to the software must be contributed back to the community

Open Source for Organizations and Communities

Why Open Source?

Open source means the code behind Open Path is freely available, but it does not mean your data is public. The data is stored separately from the application code. Open Path employs various technologies including encryption, firewalls, and password checking to ensure only those granted permission can access data.

Founded by the City of Boston, their original vision for the platform was to create a shared technology resource, where communities contribute to building a sustaining toolset. As that ideal has come to fruition, with diverse organizations nationwide using and adapting the platform, all users now see regular updates and additional feature options that stem from the contributions of others.

Open source means the code is not tied to any particular software development team. To date, Green River is the primary developer, and offers a HIPAA-compliant subscription to a hosted platform. However, anyone is welcome to download, use, and modify the platform without Green River, provided their contributions are released back to the community.

In practice, the license model fosters collaboration and transparency, and puts the emphasis on helping people experiencing homelessness. Organizations learn how others approach similar problems, and the software evolves around best practice. Users come from a wide variety of backgrounds and environments, and each brings their local priorities and challenges. Collectively addressing that diversity translates into versatile innovative software.

Open Source for Developers and Code Contributors

Send us a pull request.

Open Path is a Ruby on Rails application with Javascript libraries including Bootstrap, Billboard, and D3. It is currently set up to use the Postgresql database. The code and installation documentation are available on GitHub.

Github Repo

For developers interested in contributing, areas of the code that are simplest to contribute to and have a high user impact are:

  • Reports, particularly the development of innovative ways to analyze, define, and present performance metrics and outcomes, both for intra-organization and public consumption. Early development of the software focused on data integration and operations-oriented workflow tools. Now with that strong underpinning in place, the platform's reporting capabilities are poised to rapidly advance.
  • Documentation. New features are carefully designed and implemented, yet corresponding user documentation sometimes receives less attention. We are looking for development of enhanced in-app tooltips, documentation of specific features, and overall workflow descriptions. All users—and especially new adopters—would benefit from additional materials.
  • Enhanced interface for people experiencing homelessness. Emphasis has been on developing interfaces to facilitate the work of social service, medical, and insurance personnel. However, the people the software is built to help—homeless individuals—currently have only a minor role in the software. We would very much like to see more user interface for direct use by people who are homeless.