Finding open source software on the Internet can often seem like searching for a needle in a haystack. But with the development of a new search engine called AMOS, finding code has just become easier.
Aimed at programmers and system integrators, but with the potential to be used by a broader public, the AMOS system applies a simple ontology and a dictionary of potential search terms to find software code, packages of code and code artefacts rapidly and efficiently.
‘There is so much open source code and program elements available today that people often don’t know what’s available or where to find it,’ explains AMOS technology manager Manuel Carro at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM).
‘In most cases, being open source, it is all reusable; it’s just a question of knowing where to get your hands on it,’ he added.
The difficulties of finding the right code are likely to increase in the future as more and more open source applications are developed. And, as Carro says, ‘search engines such as Google are fine for general users but are insufficiently precise for programmers.’
Unlike other search engines, AMOS classifies code by its function rather than by its description and can pull together different code packages from different applications to meet users’ requirements.
Developed using the UPM’s Ciao Prolog logic programming environment, AMOS is itself open source and available under General Public License (GPL). A prototype demonstrator is currently available.
Notably, the concept on which AMOS is based has also aroused interest in other fields. Carro said that the system could be used in areas other than open source: ‘The search technology could be applied to finding scientific or legal papers, in fact anywhere where there is a lot of information that can be classified and categorised.’