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FIWARE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - FIWARE Forge Wiki

FIWARE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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About the FIWARE Programme


Few things have revolutionized our lives, and the way companies make business, so much as the Internet and the Web. Disruptive changes have been brought by the Internet and the Web in several consecutive waves, each time increasing the digitalization of life and the economy. The first wave came when, enabled by the Web, Internet became the “Information Superhighway” that made knowledge and contents accessible as never before. Internet also became a new channel that organizations adopted to manage a more effective relationship with their customer as well as other organizations (this transformation was well-know as the so-called e-business transformation). A second wave arrived with the advent of the Web 2.0 phenomenon and the rapid development of Social Networks. New ways of communication emerged leveraging on the full potential of individuals and their connections. People became the center of Internet, not just the information. Visibility, meritocracy and recognition had never been so open to opportunities that everyone can benefit.

Nowadays, we are experimenting the first signs of a new revolutionary wave which promises to radically impact the daily life of people and businesses once again. It will come as the result of the transformation of the Internet into the “Next Computer”. The “Operating System” of this “Next Computer” will bring components enabling the hosting of applications and data/content on the Cloud (somehow mapping to the “kernel” component of any Operating System). However, it will also come with an additional set of components (playing a similar role as the “system libraries” in any Operating System) that applications can use through a well-defined set of APIs available “as a Service”. Based on these additional components, new innovative applications/services can be designed that will bring a radical optimization of processes and the creation of applications that will exhibit a smart, context-aware, behaviour. Thus, for example, this Operating System will bring components enabling applications to interact with physical objects (the so called Internet of Things made up of sensors and actuators) or with more sophisticated devices such as robots. It will also bring components enabling to gather, publish and process media content or data at large scale, handling them as part of the context. In addition, there will be components enabling to extract knowledge from historic data applying Big Data analysis, or enabling to build advanced Web-based User Interfaces that support a much richer experience based on the support of Augmented Reality or 3D visualization features. Applications running on such “computer” will be based on these or other additional components, and they will be always available, seamless accessible, anywhere, from any device.

The next battle will be to dominate the Operating System of the computer in which the Internet will transform. Unless a collaborative effort is made, this battle will be dominated by the existing incumbent players (e.g., Google or Amazon) with their own proprietary platforms. The FIWARE goal is to make sure that an open platform alternative will exist around which a sustainable open innovation-driven ecosystem can be created. The same way, existence of technologies such a Linux or Apache has been crucial in how the Internet and the Web looks today, existence of an platform alternative like FIWARE can be crucial in how the Internet and the Web may look like in the Future.

The existence of an open platform alternative will ensure that application providers will be able to choose who will provide and operate the environment where their applications will be hosted. Data providers, including Open Data providers, will also be able to choose who will provide and operate the environment where their data will be hosted and exploited. Their decisions can be driven not just based in economic savings but the trustworthiness of the platform provider. Applications and Data providers can also better protect their investment because of the ability to port applications and data to an alternative platform provider if a given platform provider stops meeting their requirements, thus avoiding getting locked in a given platform provider.

Is the FIWARE programme just about creating technology?

Definitely not. The FIWARE programme is not only about providing open technology alternatives but also creating an ecosystem that brings better opportunities to all the stakeholders:

  • Application Providers, with special emphasis on SMEs and startups
  • Application Customers, some of which also play the role of Data Providers
  • Technology Providers

The FIWARE ecosystem will be built based on five pillars:

  • The FIWARE platform, which provides a set of simple yet powerful standard APIs that ease the development of Future Internet applications. The public and royalty-free nature of FIWARE API specifications, together with the existence of products that are open source reference implementations of those APIs, will enable the existence of multiple FIWARE providers and the ability of application as well as data providers to choose what FIWARE provider they trust. You can learn more about FIWARE here.
  • The FIWARE Lab, a working instance of the FIWARE platform made available for free experimentation. A place where application providers will be able to test their FIWARE-based applications with real data and users. A place where entrepreneurs can showcase their talent and ideas to potential customers and investors. A place, on the other hand, where application customers or investors can more easily discover the entrepreneurs they are looking for. A place where data providers can put their data at work. In sum, a genuine meeting point where innovation takes place! You can learn more about the FIWARE Lab here
  • The suite of FIWARE Ops tools, which eases the tasks that a FIWARE provider has to carry out for setting up and operating FIWARE nodes or federating them as part of a new or existing FIWARE instance (e.g., the FIWARE Lab). You can learn more about the FIWARE Ops here.
  • The FIWARE Accelerator programme, which provides an umbrella to support specific programs aimed at mobilizing resources that can help entrepreneurs (particularly SMEs and startups) to develop their innovative ideas using FIWARE and to experience the benefits of joining the FIWARE ecosystem. Business/technical coaching, funding, promotion or support for networking with potential collaborators are the kind of activities to be covered within these programs. The first of these programs, launched by the European Commission, has mobilized 100 Million euros of which 80 Million will be given away to SMEs and startups using FIWARE here.
  • The FIWARE mundus programme, which aims at promoting FIWARE around the world, trying to make the above pillars present in any region, enabling local FIWARE ecosystems to flourish. You can learn more about the FIWARE mundus programme here.

With the creation of such ecosystem, FIWARE will contribute to the growth of the economy, the creation of local jobs and the well-being in regions where it is adopted.

How can I get in touch?

A number of channels have been established so that you can issue requests or provide feedback. You can find them summarized here:

  • You can post queries preferably to ask.fiware.org and StackOverflow. Which one to use depends on the question. If the question is specific on a GEi (such as Wirecloud, Orion, etc.) and is about programming, API usage, how to run the GEri, etc. the right place is Stackoverflow. For any other question about FIWARE, please use ask.fiware.org. In the case you use ask.fiware.org for a question that should be in Stackoverflow you will be redirected to the other place or vicecversa.

You can have a look at existing questions in Stackoverflow to get an idea of the kind of questions that should be asked there: Wirecloud or Orion. If you use StackOverflow don't forget to add the label corresponding to the GEi, e.g: "fiware-wirecloud" or "fiware-orion". The labels to use appear in the "Contact Info" section in the FIWARE Catalogue entry corresponding to each GEi. If there is no label for the GEi, then use the generic "fiware" label. This is importante: using these labels is the only way our support staff realizes a new question has been posted in StackOverflow.

We’ll try to answer as soon as possible. Please check first what channel is the one that best suits your needs. This will ensure a faster response.

About the FIWARE platform

What is FIWARE?

FIWARE is a software platform that provides enhanced OpenStack-based cloud hosting capabilities plus a rich library of components bringing a number of added-value functions offered “as a Service”. These library components provide open standard APIs that make the development of Future Internet applications much easier. Thus, it brings components enabling the connection to the Internet of Things, the support of a smart and context-aware behavior through the real-time processing of data and media content at large scale as well as the analysis of Big Data, or the incorporation of advanced Web-based User Interface features (e.g., Augmented Reality or 3D visualization), among others.

Each component that is part of the FIWARE Reference Architecture is referred as a “Generic Enabler (GE)”. All FIWARE GE specifications are public and royalty-free, thus enabling alternative implementations of each FIWARE GE coming from different providers.

FIWARE GE specifications are “driven by implementation” as opposed to “design by a committee”. Thus, the specifications of each FIWARE GE are backed by an open source reference implementation. Thanks to that, alternative FIWARE instance providers can emerge faster in the market.

What is a FIWARE GEri?

A product that has been adopted as the open source reference implementation of a FIWARE GE is said to be its FIWARE GEri (GE reference implementation). As an example, the FIWARE Context Broker GE is part of the FIWARE Reference Architecture and Orion is the product that has been adopted as the FIWARE Context Broker GEri.

Each open source FIWARE GE reference implementation (GEri) is developed, evolved and supported by a set of organizations that are active contributors to the FIWARE community. These organizations are committed to evolution and support of the technology they are contributing.

What is a FIWARE GEi?

Any product that implements the specifications of a given FIWARE GE is referred as a FIWARE GE implementation (GEi). There may be multiple FIWARE GEis associated to a given FIWARE GE, but only one open source FIWARE GEri that is considered the reference implementation of the specifications linked to that FIWARE GE.

What is the FIWARE Catalogue? What will I find there?

The products that are working as the open source reference implementation of each FIWARE GE (a FIWARE GEri) in the FIWARE Reference Architecture are published in the FIWARE Catalogue.

The FIWARE Catalogue will soon evolve to gather information about:

  • FIWARE GEris (already there), i.e., products offered as reference implementations of FIWARE GE specifications. They are all open source and there is a commitment to support them by FIWARE active contributors.
  • FIWARE GEis, i.e., products that claim to be compliant with FIWARE GE specifications and look for a place for raising awareness. Note, however, that this won’t mean that the FIWARE community will endorse them or that their compliance has been (or will be) tested. The FIWARE Catalogue will bring an excellent forum where users will be able to share their experiences and feedback using FIWARE GEis.
  • Incubated GEs/GEris, i.e., products that the corresponding owner believes that can be integrated as part of the FIWARE because a) they are generic enough and b) they cover a gap in the FIWARE Reference Architecture so they can fit/integrate well with existing FIWARE GEris and c) they will be provided as open source. They will be advertised and, their traction among the wider community of developers as well as the opportunity to integrate them within FIWARE will be evaluated from time to time so a decision can be taken about whether they should become FIWARE GEs/GEris. The process that will be followed to determine how an incubated GE/GEri can become a FIWARE GE/GEi will be transparent and neutral. It is currently under definition but we expect that it will be ready by the end of the year or first quarter of 2015.
  • Domain-specific FIWARE-based Frameworks and Specific Enablers, i.e., frameworks developed based on FIWARE or enablers that complement FIWARE GEs/GEris to bring a complete solution for development of applications in specific domains (e.g., eHealth, Smart Agrifood, Smart Cities, etc).

Using FIWARE means “taking it all or nothing”? How easily could I integrate FIWARE into my application?

No. Using FIWARE doesn’t mean taking it all or nothing.

A fundamental design principle in FIWARE has been its modularity. The adoption of this design principle was targeted to enable a gradual adoption of FIWARE GEs/GEris by application developers. It was also targeted to enable scenarios where FIWARE providers combine a subset of FIWARE GEris with their own FIWARE GEis, or scenarios where FIWARE providers provide a service just focused on a given subset of FIWARE GEs.

As the result of following this modularity design principle, most of the FIWARE GEs/GEris are meaningful and usable standalone.

Most of the FIWARE GEs/GEris support a RESTful API. Integration of your application with them will be as easy as with any other service that provides a RESTful API. Note that FIWARE doesn’t dictate what concrete programming language you use in the development of your application.

What kind of things can FIWARE do for me? How can I incorporate FIWARE gradually?

If you are an application developer, you can gradually incorporate FIWARE GEs in your application. As an example, you may first try to incorporate the Context Broker GE (reference implementation: Orion) in your architecture because it will allow you to support context-awareness using standard FIWARE APIs. Context information is represented through values assigned to attributes that characterize those entities relevant to your application. The Context Broker GE is able to handle context information at large scale and implements the standard OMA NGSI-9/10 APIs (OMA NGSI APIs for short) which enable your application to query on context information or subscribe to changes in context information that will be received through notifications. It also enable your application or another systems to modify the context information. This is why the OMA NGSI APIs are said to work as “the SNMP of Context”.

You may start managing context information that arrives from external systems connected to your application or from end users interacting with your application using some web portal. Later you may require to incorporate management of “things” using sensors/actuators. This will require incorporating some GEs of the FIWARE IoT chapter as part of your architecture. Those FIWARE GEs will connect to the Context Broker GE and will hide all the complexity linked to management of different IoT protocols. Actually, using the FIWARE OMA NGSI API, reading from a sensor or actuating on a device will be as easy as to read or write on an attribute associated to some Context entity. Again, remember the analogy to SNMP, which would be extended to the management of the so-called “Internet of Things”.

Once you are managing the information about Context in your application using the Context Broker GE, you may introduce some other FIWARE GEs to incorporate more nice features in your application. As an example, you may take advantage of the connectors supported by the Context Broker that automatically upload records generated each time there is a change in the Context to the Datasets Publication GE (reference implementation: CKAN) or the Big Data GE (reference implementation: Cosmos). This way, you can publish part of your Context history as Open Datasets or perform Big Data analysis to extract insights that are relevant to your application (which in turn may enrich the Context).

Later, you may want to perform some complex processing on Context Information. As an example, you may want to automatically detect scenarios that require triggering some action or raising some alarm. You can then add the FIWARE Complex Event Processing (CEP) as part of the architecture of your applications.

Your application may also need to process or handle multimedia streams in real-time. This is something your application can easily perform using the Real-time Mutlimedia Stream Processing GE (reference implementation Kurento). Note that part of this processing may lead to generation of data you may want to manage as Context Information, consequently connecting this GE to the Context Broker GE. However, you may perfectly use it standalone, even if your application does not perform any Context Management.

You may also want to incorporate advanced features in your web-based user interface, e.g., Augmented Reality or 3D visualization features. Then we recommend you to take a look to the FIWARE GEs that have been defined in the Advanced Web-based User Interface chapter. These components have recently been incorporated in FIWARE so we are also working on their integration with other FIWARE GEs. For example, you soon will be able to fill information linked to POIs (Points Of Interest) visible in your user interface using FIWARE Advanced Web-based User Interface GEs with context information provided by the Context Broker GE.

These are some examples of what FIWARE can do for you and can do gradually. We are eager to help you in your journey!

Is there anyone who has used it before?

Most of the FIWARE GEris available in the FIWARE Catalogue have been used by their corresponding owners as part of their commercial offerings in the last couple of years.

Several Use Case projects under the Future Internet PPP programme (now renamed as FIWARE PPP programme) have used FIWARE in the development of applications for certain domains (eHealth, Smart Agrifood, Smart Grids, Smart Cities, …).

A number of challenges have also been run during the last year to discover a first set of interesting applications that SMEs and startups can build based on FIWARE. The target goal when we launched this challenge was to get early feedback from SMEs and startups that first approach FIWARE. You can find more info about the winners of the first round FIWARE Challenges at: http://www.fi-ware.org/2014/02/04/winning-apps-from-campus-party-brazil/

The second round of FIWARE Challenges will run their finals this week. You may find more info at: http://www.fi-ware.org/challenges/

All of the feedback gathered during the last year has helped to improve what FIWARE will now deliver to thousands of SMEs and startups. Given said this, the feedback gathered so far has been rather positive. Experience shows that developers can start building applications based on FIWARE in a matter of days.

Is there an active FIWARE online community to ask questions?

Yes. We recommend you to visit http://www.fiware.org/contact-us/

You will find that there are multiple channels to approach the community and ask specific questions or provide feedback. Please carefully review first the description of all of them so that you send your message to the most appropriate channel. This will ease a faster response while avoiding that the teams taking care of each channel get overloaded with questions that ultimately they will forward to other teams.

As an example, if you are looking for help regarding usage of the FIWARE Lab, you should send a message to fiware-lab-help@lists.fi-ware.org.

If you need help while using some given FIWARE GEri (product working as the open source reference implementation of a FIWARE GE) it might be worth checking first whether such question has already been answered at StackOverflow.com which is probably the most reputed forum for asking technical questions available on the Internet. If you are not sure whether your question might be of interest to many other developers, you should direct your question to fiware-tech-help@lists.fi-ware.org where it will always get answered, no matter if trivial. However, you might be asked to formulate your question to StackOverflow.com by one member of the FIWARE team. If it is the case, please do so because this means that the FIWARE teams have found that many other developers will be interested in the answer to your question.

Who owns FIWARE? Is FIWARE open source?

There will be always an open source reference implementation (a FIWARE GEri) for all the FIWARE GEs that are part of the FIWARE Reference Architecture.

Intellectual Property is different from Access Rights. The Intellectual Property of a given FIWARE GEri belongs to the organizations that have contributed to its development. However, any FIWARE GEri is released under a well-known open source license, enabling its usage, modification or distribution without paying any license fee.

You can check the “Terms and Conditions” tab of the entry associated to a given FIWARE GEri in the FIWARE Catalogue in order to learn what is the open source license under which that FIWARE GEri has been released.

There may be proprietary, closed-source products implementing FIWARE GEs (the so-called FIWARE GEis). FIWARE GE specifications are public and royalty-free, enabling any party to create products that implement them, either closed or open source.

Do I need to release my application software as open source if I decide to use FIWARE?

If you decide to modify the software of a given FIWARE GEri, you may have to release the modified version of that software if the open source license of the FIWARE GEri requires to do so.

However, your application will typically just use FIWARE GEris without modifying their implementation, therefore you are not required to release your application as open source if you don’t want to do so.

I have found that some FIWARE GEris are distributed under GPL or AGPL open source licenses … Is it safe for me?

Absolutely. Issues with GPL (or AGPL) licenses are mostly related with the fact that different people assign different interpretations on the meaning of the term “derivate work” used in these licenses. Due to this, some people understand that there is a risk in just using software under GPL or AGPL licenses (even without modifying it).

In order to avoid any issue, FIWARE GEri owners who have decided to release their software using a GPL or AGPL license are required to make a public statement that says:

Please note that software derived as a result of modifying the source code of this software in order to fix a bug or incorporate enhancements is considered a derivative work of the product. Software that merely uses or aggregates (i.e. links to) an otherwise unmodified version of existing software is not considered a derivative work.

This means that there is absolute no risk that you are forced to release the software that you may have developed using FIWARE GEris under a GPL, AGPL or any other open source license.

How dependent will you become on owners of products in the FIWARE Catalogue when using FIWARE? What will it cost me exactly?

FIWARE GEris in the FIWARE Catalogue are open source. This implies that you can use and modify them for free.

How can I become an active contributor to the FIWARE community?

We are eager to hear from you if you wish to actively contribute to FIWARE. There may be many ways to contribute: developing software that can be contributed as part of an existing/new FIWARE GEri, as tester, documenter, evangelist, trainer, coach, etc.

Please send a message to fiware-collaboration-req@lists.fi-ware.org if you want to contribute and let us know what you wish to do.

How is a FIWARE instance setup?

A FIWARE instance is setup by combining together a set of FIWARE GEis/GEris. Any organization that sets up and operates a given FIWARE instance is referred as a FIWARE provider. An example of FIWARE instance is the FIWARE Lab.

About the FIWARE Lab

What is the FIWARE Lab?

The FIWARE Lab (https://lab.fiware.org) is a non-commercial sandbox environment where innovation and experimentation based on FIWARE technologies takes place. Entrepreneurs can make “hands on” the technology as well as test and showcase their applications on this environment.

Multiple cities in Europe are currently working on setting up a connection to FI-Lab to export their open data in this environment.

Can I use the FIWARE Lab for whatever I want and how I want?

No. The FIWARE Lab is for non-commercial use. Usage of the FIWARE Lab is subject to the FIWARE Lab usage terms and conditions that any user of the FIWARE Lab has to accept explicitly when (s)he creates an account on the FIWARE Lab.

Does the FIWARE Lab offer infinite resources?

Obviously not. You will get assigned a quota once you create an account on the FIWARE Lab.

Due to the fact that resources are limited and that there are people rather eager to work using FIWARE technologies, we may need to shutdown your VMs if we find out you are not using them.

If you are using FIWARE intensively and require more quota, please let us know by sending a message to fiware-lab-help@lists.fi-ware.org.

Are there FIWARE Lab nodes/regions outside Europe?

Yes. A FIWARE node in Mexico is currently under friendly testing and it will be soon publicly launched. There are plans under execution targeted to the creation of FIWARE Lab nodes in Brazil and Chile.

If I was interested in running a FIWARE Lab node, whom should I contact?

If you are an organization that is interested in setting up and operating a FIWARE Lab node, please send us an email to fiware-mundus-req@lists.fi-ware.org. Please note that you will be requested to bring a node that can at least contribute with 100 cores of computing capacity.

About the FIWARE Ops suite of tools

What is the FIWARE Ops suite of tools?

FIWARE Ops is a suite of tools that eases the deployment, setup and operation of FIWARE instances by Platform Providers. It is designed to help expanding the infrastructure associated to a given FIWARE instance by means of federating additional nodes (datacenters) over time and allowing cooperation among multiple Platform Providers. FIWARE Ops is the tool used to build, operate and expand the FIWARE Lab.

About the FIWARE Accelerator Programme

What is the FIWARE Accelerator Programme?

The FIWARE Accelerator Programme provides an umbrella to support specific programs aimed at mobilizing resources that can help entrepreneurs (particularly SMEs and startups) to develop their innovative ideas using FIWARE and to experience the benefits of joining the FIWARE ecosystem. Business/technical coaching, funding, promotion or support for networking with potential collaborators are the kind of activities to be covered within these programs.

The first of these programs, launched by the European Commission, has mobilized 100 Million euros of which 80 Million will be given away to SMEs and startups using FIWARE. You can learn more about the goals of this programme visiting http://www.fi-ware.org/fiware-accelerator-programme/

About the FIWARE mundus programme

What is the FIWARE mundus programme?

Despite born in Europe, FIWARE is designed with a global ambition, aiming at expanding to other regions. As a first step, partners in several countries of Latin America (Mexico, Brazil, Chile) have decided to join the FIWARE programme, working on the setup of FIWARE Lab nodes in their countries and promoting FIWARE locally.

About open data

What is open data?

According to the definition by the Open Knowledge open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike. In practical terms open data is considered as such if the license attached to the dataset is under an open licence as per the definition on http://opendefinition.org/licenses/ If a dataset does not accomplish with one of the earlier licenses it will be necessary to prove that the dataset can be considered as open, and that copyright or non-commercial reuse policies do not apply to it.

Can you give me examples of open datasets?

Yes. Check this world map of open data initiatives http://datos.fundacionctic.org/sandbox/catalog/faceted/ and some inspiring stories about companies already using open data in the US or within the FIWARE FINODEX accelerator. Do not forget that the FIWARE Lab repository is also a valuable source of open data

Is data available on the web open data?

It depends on the license. If this data counts with an open license it is open. If this data counts with a copyright restriction is for sure not open at all. Scraping data with copyright is an activity which can be considered illegal, so read the terms and conditions of the data before you apply the “open” label.

Is open data coming from any origin?

Yes it is. Anywhere in the world there’s open data. Data owners are public administrations (Public Sector Information or PSI), private companies, individuals or anyone setting an open license to a dataset.

Can all Creative Commons licenses be considered open data?

Not all CC licenses can be considered open data. For instance to support the creation of commercial products, a CC-NC (non-commercial) or CC-ND (non-derivative) restricts you to do so and therefore data subject to those kind of licenses are NOT open data.

Are data from Twitter or any other social network open data?

They are usually not. In the case of Twitter they are clearly not, given its terms and conditions. If a website or social network provides an API for retrieving data, that does not mean the data are open. The openness is in the license, so check the terms and conditions!

Can a proprietary format of a file contain open data?

Yes. The 5-star scale proposed by Tim Berners-Lee shows 5 different levels for “openness” for open data, being the 5-star categorisation the top-level one. As an example 1 and 2-stars levels consist on publishing the data no matter the format or if structured.

What is FIWARE doing for open data?

There are different actions aimed at promoting the creation and reuse of open data within FIWARE:

  • Open and Agile Smart Cities is a network of cities that have committed to share their real-time context data with three mechanisms: FIWARE NGSI API for sharing real time context data, CKAN as open data platform, and shared open models for city verticals (starting by CitySDK data models). FIWARE supports this initiative and provides 2 GEs (Orion Context Broker and CKAN) to accelerate the adoption of this approach. More information is available at http://www.oascities.org/
  • Additionally, FIWARE Lab is being used as an infrastructure to publish many open datasets (many of them real time NGSI context data from cities). Check https://data.lab.fiware.org/
  • FIWARE Accelerate results are being published with an open license at https://data.lab.fiware.org/dataset/fiware-accelerators-results.
  • There is a specific accelerator focused in open data projects FINODEX. SMEs interested in Open Data may also apply for funds to ODINE incubator
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