NuSoft Offers Free Framework

October 19, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — NuSoft Solutions is making its recently implemented development framework available to its clients and the general software development industry free of charge.

“Traditionally, we wouldn’t have made this available, but the world today is more about collaborating and building on best practices,” said NuSoft Solutions President Keith Brophy. “This type of software development has become largely commoditized, and the best thing for the industry is to shift that thought upward.”

Built on the platform with CodeSmith code-generating tools, the NuSoft framework was developed as an internal application to automate the foundational steps of customized software development. Since the company introduced the framework to its own consultants last year, the cost of development has decreased on most projects by 30 percent or more.

“We had started to see this pattern within our applications and found that we were repeating the same steps,” said Brian Anderson, NuSoft practice manager. “We began looking for a way to build up development software.”

“We needed something that could be used over and over again,” added Brophy.

The NuSoft framework could be compared to the foundation and initial utility infrastructure of a house. Although the home could not be built without these essential parts, it requires some significant work before it can be the least bit functional. The ensuing efforts — electricity, for instance — are the more sophisticated parts of the process.

In similar fashion, the framework removes the need for lower-level programming, allowing developers to begin work on higher-level tasks from the get-go. Initially, the company’s consultants were resistant to use the tool, embracing it only after the early adopters began showing immense productivity gains.

The firm’s intentions in releasing its first open-source tool are not entirely altruistic. Brophy expects that the use of a NuSoft framework outside of the firm’s customer base will drive interest back to the company, particularly for the higher-level tasks that it is increasingly building its business around. From a more practical standpoint, the use of the framework will provide greater opportunity for development collaboration with new and existing customers.

“So often we’re asked to clean up a failed application or build on top of something that isn’t extendable or easily understood,” said Brophy. Added Anderson: “If you start with a bad foundation, anything you build on is going to be very flimsy.”

Prior to releasing it to the general public earlier this month for use by competing Microsoft vendors, NuSoft delivered the framework to its clients. A number of them are currently using it to create simple applications and to adapt existing applications. As vendors adopt the framework, the common architecture will allow different companies to build on each other’s work.

The framework received 2,000 views in its first week on CodePlex, Microsoft’s open-source project hosting Web site. Brophy believes that NuSoft’s profile in the Microsoft community will help drive adoption of the framework. The company currently sits on six advisory councils in Redmond.

This is not the only Microsoft framework on the market, Brophy noted, but it is one of the few that is not being introduced as a proprietary tool.

“I think that undermines the value,” he said. “That path eventually leads to turning it into a platform, and we think that is too confining for developers.”

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