Developers Italia is the community dedicated to the development of Open Source Software to support Italian digital public services. It collects a large amount of libraries and SDK, as well as test environments, code examples and clear documentation aimed at simplifying the integration of the national enabling platforms within digital services.
The community includes technical people of the Public Administration as well as suppliers, but also citizens and students: they all collaborate on source code and communicate using the tools of Developers Italia (Slack, GitHub, the forum).
Developers Italia is also appointed by the new Guidelines for acquisition and reuse of software as the platform where software to be reused must be published according to the article 69 of the Digital Administration Code.
The Italian law states that whenever an Administration acquires software it must perform a comparative assessment among the available solutions, giving priority to existing or open source software. Moreover, when it commissions development of new software, such software must be released as open source in a public repository. This law is very advanced at international level, but the Team intervention was needed for kickstarting its implementation.
Advantages for Public Administrations
This combination of regulations, tools and community represents a radical change for the Public Administration because it encourages collaboration, rationalization of public spending, consolidation of pubilc software and it lays the groundwork for innovation.
By reusing common components and open source software released by other pubilc entities, Public Administration saves time and financial resources: there’s no more need for duplicating work that was already done and efforts can be pooled for building mature and secure software. Resources can thus be used for building higher quality services and for improving the existing software.
The catalogue of Developers Italia enables Public Administrations to search easily among the existing solutions and to perform the comparative assessment required by the articole 68 of the Digital Administration Code.
Advantages for citizens
Thanks to the collaborative model and software reuse citizens can benefit from more mature, more secure and more functional digital services, integrated with the national enabling platforms and more mutually consistent.
The ability to access the source code offers more transparency and lets citizens collaborate on solving problems and improving public software.
The role of the Team
The Digital Team immediately became a promoter and took charge of the creation of the Developers Italia community. By relying on well-known collaborative tools (GitHub for source code, ReadTheDocs for documentation, Discouse for the forum) we created the developers.italia.it website quickly with a little budget.
We then began to immediately involve the public entities who own the enabling platforms, with whom we wrote public roadmaps and documentation for developers. We also started releasing open source code. A community was born in no time, and this happened also because a place for collaboration and discussion was needed by many people. Under our guidance, many members of the community contributed with more code and became maintainers.
In October 2017 we organized Hack Developers, the largest hackathon about public services. Here’s some footage from that event, which took place in 26 cities:
In 2018, working closesly with AgID, we wrote the new Guidelines for Acquisition and Reuse of Software which apply a new model based on open source and lay the groundwork for high quality open software.
In order to implement this reuse model we created the new version of the Developers Italia website, which contains the software catalogue which is populated automatically by a crawler we developer. We also defined a metadata standard for public software, named publiccode.yml, which is being evaluated and adopted by other foreign countries.
From the blog
For any contact request received from the media and journalists, the Digital Transformation Team’s press and communication office is the point of reference.
During the Codemotion event in Rome, in front of an audience of 2,000 programmers, we announced the GitHub repository and the official opening of the Developers Community.
The SPID roadmap, publicly available and constantly updated, becomes the first roadmap of an Italian technological service published to be shared with all the interested parties, and used to coordinate the development activities.
With an innovative process, supported by the main Italian tech communities, we activated a process aimed at starting a series of tenders in support of the implementation of open-source community projects, with a total budget of 1 million euro.
We met the leading Italian software companies that create software for the public administration, had a discussion with them regarding Developers Italia and the new challenges in innovation that will open up more and more innovative services.
We created the biggest Italian "code sprint", gathering more than 800 developers working on the open-source code of the Public Administration, resulting in dozens of projects that were immediately available to speed up the digitisation of public services.
Our objective is to integrate the development of 10 different community projects, involving the administrations responsible for them in the new open and collaborative development model.
Public review started for our new guidelines that supersede the current AgID "Reuse Catalogue", promoting the publishing of all code on collaborative platforms (such as GitHub or GitLab). We aim to go beyond (and simplify) the current system for sharing the code between different administrations, a system which doesn’t have the need for contracts or other bureaucratic impediments.
Developers Italia now contains a new API catalogue with Swagger integration. Further work is planned on this catalogue.
The small and medium software house companies acquired through public tenders completed the development of 16 new open source projects supporting the enabling platforms.
The guidelines about software reuse based on the open source model become effective. In addition to the national enabling platforms, Developers Italia hosts the new Reuse Catalogue for open source and reusable software, according to the new guidelines.
Within the first three months after launcing the reuse catalogue we want to have at least 50 software packages released by public entities.
We plan to organize one more code sprint focused on the software published in the reuse catalogue.