Recognizing Innovation through Open Source Rookies

Recognizing Innovation through Open Source Rookies

Once again, we at Black Duck are privileged to recognize some of the most innovative, influential and interesting projects produced by the open source community during the previous year. This week’s announcement of the 2016 Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year is exciting, showcasing the fields on which some of the world’s most capable developers have focused their efforts.

Last year we gave you a backstage pass to the selection process. This year we're exploring what makes these projects great; what does it take to be an Open Source Rookie?

The Whole Package: Open Source Rookies to the Core

There’s no shortage of impressive developers in the world of open source. However, elegant code, efficient development and even exquisite security practices alone do not constitute a Black Duck Open Source Rookie of the Year. A qualified project stands out for a few key reasons. Whether seeking to address an outstanding opportunity for new technology or offering a new approach to existing solutions, this year’s Rookies didn't think it was enough to do things faster and cheaper with a snappy user interface.

Our selected Rookies have impressive reach, creating solutions that offer distinct implications for the technology they’ve developed. As exemplary open source projects, they engaged the community for contributions, feedback, inspiration and support. Driven by passionate teams, these projects overcame notable challenges. Frequently, during our selection process with candidates, we discovered that they experienced many of the obstacles intrinsic to complex development projects.

For some, technology standards had to be reimagined to accommodate ambitious goals and vision. For others, the community welcomed the projects with such zeal and excitement that shifting priorities and a deluge of inspiration flooded development teams with, perhaps, too many promising options. Whatever the challenge, this year’s Rookies overcame and excelled, evolving the application landscape and setting their sights on new horizons.

And to that oft-asked question — what’s the difference between a Rookie of the Year and an Honorable Mention – I can only say that they both represent incredible innovation and remarkable accomplishment. It truly is a photo finish between Rookie and Honorable Mention candidates, and while these Rookies’ accomplishments are difficult to compare against each other, their success is evidenced by their contributions to the community. We view their recognition as a 2016 Black Duck Open Source Rookie as both complimentary and complementary to their achievements.

Focused Efforts: 2016 Open Source Rookies Categories

This year, after selecting an initial list of candidates to interview further, distinct categories emerged where there was significant activity within the open source community. Some categories show continued evolution after years of activity, others may mark the beginning of new territory.


This category has been a hotbed of activity for years, and now its evolution is apparent with projects like Intel’s Sawtooth Lake and breakout database/social media platform Steem.

Big Data:

Here we see a fundamental component to modern business – Big Data. This year, we saw projects like CarbonData, Apache Arrow, and BigChain DB make a concerted push to accelerate data analysis, increase efficiency and transcend the divide between the traditional database and blockchain.

Deep Learning:

One of the nascent and complex categories this year, deep/machine learning and neural networks attracted a significant amount of attention across the open source community. Amazon’s Deep Scalable Sparse Tensor Network Engine (DSSTNE) and Baidu’s PaddlePaddle are driving efficiency, relevancy and power, while Google’s Magenta scratches the surface of digital creativity.

Software-Defined Networking:

Open source pervades every industry and is now influencing the mechanism that facilitates digital communications and data transfer: networks. Projects like OpenCORD and OPEN-O are driving the growth and adoption of Software-Defined Networking with an eye on global relevance.


Containers have taken the development and deployment world by storm. This year, we recognize two distinct approaches to container technology, from build and deployment to orchestration and management. Docker, a Black Duck Open Source Rookie of the Year in 2013, brings its SwarmKit project to the table, and Ansible launched its Ansible Container project; both seeking to simplify use and increase adoption of containers.

Network Security:

Two of this year’s Rookies, Poseidon and Trireme, take a fundamentally new approach to network security, leveraging cutting edge machine learning and software-defined network capabilities to combat malicious activity on your network without impeding operations.


A  few notable projects set out to extend education resources to those in need. Learning Equality’s Kolibri entered the open source arena with a solution to make learning resources readily available to students and teachers worldwide.

To view the complete list of recognized projects and learn more about them, visit the 2016 Black Duck Open Source Rookies page. Also, stay tuned - we'll have more blogs by and about these projects coming soon.

To view last year’s rookies, check out the 2015 Open Source Rookies page.

Learn more about our Open Source Rookies 2016 Class

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