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  • flexidb-how-tech-is-changing

    How tech is changing

    11th January at 4:42pm BST
  • The way that we create software products is changing. We’ve moved away from the era of the stand-alone platform or app. Now our products exist as mechanisms that interact with multiple other technologies, and there is a growing focus on community-orientated development and the open source ideology.

    Open source beginnings

    Collaboration is an important word in business, and it’s a concept that has been integral to the success of WordPress. WordPress is an open-source platform, for which plugins and integrations are both supported and encouraged. Anyone who has been to a WordCamp contributor day will have seen the passion and hard work that goes into developing new versions of the platform. The beauty of open source is that everyone can contribute, and this is what led our team to create the open-source framework behind FlexiDB.

    WordPress is an Open Source project. There are hundreds of people all over the world working on it.

    WordPress is an Open Source project. There are hundreds of people all over the world working on it.

    Community-orientated development

    At FlexiDB, we are supportive of community-orientated development, as well as connected platforms. FlexiDB is a database backend that integrates with multiple platforms, including Slack, WordPress websites and mobile apps. Being open source, there are unlimited potential future integrations that could be built to connect FlexiDB with more platforms, and we welcome contributions and new ideas from the community.

    FlexiDB is a database backend that connects to front-ends such as WordPress, Slack and mobile apps

    FlexiDB is a database backend that connects to front-ends such as WordPress, Slack and mobile apps

    Microsoft meets Open Source

    Although WordPress developers have championed open source for decades, big tech companies such as Microsoft have historically been opposed to it.

    Traditionally, the meaning of open source was that the source code could be viewed, modified, and enhanced by anyone. Although this is still true, open source has also come to represent a wider set of values, celebrating transparency and collaboration across a broader context.

    Now, we’re seeing an increasingly pro-open attitude develop. For example, Microsoft has embraced open source technology for its cloud computing software, Azure, and recently announced that it has joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member.

    Microsoft announcing open source partnerships

    Microsoft announcing open source partnerships

    Open AI

    As technology improves and we see advancements in relatively new areas of focus, such as Artificial Intelligence, community-orientated development is necessary to facilitate progress and drive ideas forward. Google understands this, and its software, TensorFlow, is an open source library for accelerating the evolution of machine learning, with the aim to make technology work better for everyone.

    TensorFlow is Google's open source AI engine

    TensorFlow is Google’s open source AI engine

    Slack integrations

    The theme of collaboration also runs through popular chat platforms, such as Slack. As a real-time collaborative messaging app, Slack can have a transformative impact on team communication. Slack also makes it as easy as possible for developers to build integrations between the app and other software. This ideology is open and forward thinking, and the inclusivity promotes sign ups from new users.

    Slack integrations allow users to continue using their favourite tools from within the Slack app

    Slack integrations allow users to continue using their favourite tools from within the Slack app

    Bring on the bots

    Slack invites developers to build their own bots and custom integrations using its API, and the team here at FlexiDB couldn’t resist building one ourselves. We are developing FlexiDBot, a productivity tool for Slack that allows users to input data or access data from databases that are linked to WordPress websites and mobile apps, all from within the Slack app.

    The bot provides rapid and easy access to data, files, reports and images, helping to streamline user workflow, allowing teams to rapidly share information and improving business process orchestration. FlexiDBot can also be used to create bespoke productivity tools, enabling the community to build custom functionality without coding.

    FlexiDBot is a new productivity tool for Slack

    FlexiDBot is a new productivity tool for Slack

    Connected applications

    In addition to FlexiDBot, we’ve been hard at work creating other collaborative tools that promote productivity and make life easier. With our FlexiDB database backend, we have created our new cloud-based mind-mapping tool, Mind Doodle, which is about the be released.

    From our own experience we know that connected applications can remove barriers, increase speed and ease of use, and generally create a happier user. That’s why we’ve built Mind Doodle to connect with Slack and export across various platforms including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Project. Mind Doodle facilitates collaboration and has a bunch of social sharing options too, so you can always work with your team (or show off your project!).

    Mind Doodle is the collaborative online mind mapping tool

    Mind Doodle is the collaborative online mind mapping tool

    Programming with Raspberry Pi

    When it comes to integrating different technologies to create custom functionality, one of the best gadgets to use is the Raspberry Pi. It is a fully functional Linux computer running open source software, which is often used for home automation projects. Cool projects include creating a connected IP camera to remotely monitor your home, controlling your stereo wirelessly or creating your own PiPhone. The Raspberry Pi could be your first step to programming your own connected home!

    The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse.

    The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse.

    If This Then That

    In addition to the Raspberry Pi, the current technological landscape offers us the resources to devise interesting ways to program smart, connected devices. The “If This Then That” (IFTTT) service allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements to create automated functions for internet-connected gadgets. IFTTT connects to smart devices such as Amazon Echo, and there is an extensive library of Alexa commands in IFTTT, so you can build the functionality yourself without coding.

    IFTTT connects to smart devices such as Amazon Echo

    IFTTT connects to smart devices such as Amazon Echo

    With so many new connected devices and app integrations, we are heading firmly towards a collaborative and connected future. As long as new community-orientated projects continue to be generated with open source technology, we’re sure the theme of openness, inclusivity and transparency within the tech industry will show no signs of slowing.

    Want to know more about the products we’re about to launch? Reach out to tess@flexidb.com.