The Case for Open Source Development, a Personal Case Study

A couple of days ago I happened to meet my old friend Idel Fuschini on the street, and we have been talking about things happened ten years ago or longer when working in the mobile VAS sector, when WAP was still to come.

Idel over the last ten years has been working on implementing mobile-based services using proprietary products like Volantis (nowadays pretty open source), Mobileaware, and Oracle Portal to go. More recently he started to use also open source platforms like WURFL, eventually ending to be fascinated by the open source side of software development.

What follows is not a research, neither an investigation including a quantitative evidence, but just a reportage of a programmer’s life and how open source can make a change.

Generally speaking mobile content delivery platforms identify the device through the user-agent and present the best content possible given the capacity of the device.

Over the years, I have realized that many customers do not want to buy a proprietary product or (worst) to pay a team of programmers to develop a mobile site. My idea then was to create a tool that would make straightforward to publish a mobile website, without needing to be an expert in mobile technology.

Apache Mobile Filter – an open source project hosted on SourceForge, using the Apache mod_perl module and the APR and WURFL as a Device Repository – is born just to make easy to publish content to any mobile phone.

Spreading the word: CPAN.

Creating a module on CPAN is relatively simple, you just have to send a mail with a description of the project to the following address: After about ten days I received a reply telling my that my project was of interest and that an account had been opened for me. Once the account had been opened I had to follow the rules set out by CPAN, which you can read at this address:, By following these rules it is definitely possible to distribute the software. The only problem I encountered while trying to post the form was when I chose the Mobile::WURFLFilter as an extension: CPAN advised me to use Apache2::WURFLFilter instead, since this is in all respects an Apache filter.


I have already been contacted by two potential customers so far. To them the simplicity of the solution was crucial, as well as the fact that I provide it at no license fee costs. Last but not least I based my module on the most used web server in the world, and it definitely helps. All in all within the open source world we all are dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants.

About the future.

I hope that better programmers will join me, helping to widespread its usage. I made it available in November almost for game, but after a few posts on public forums someone asked me to build the module to work with a proprietary device repository. For the time being I will keep developing it only on open source products.

But the real step forward would be able to pass parameters WURFL as environment variables, and not as it is now using cookies or Query String (heavy for old mobile devices). Probably to make it I should rewrite the module in C to use the Apache module mod_env.

Any help would more than appreciated!

Nice story Idel, keep us updated and happy hacking!