We are finally on our way with a centralized open-source reporting portal for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The new portal will provide a common authentication and authorization portal for all major reporting applications for NIFA.

http://portal.nifa.usda.gov

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Reporting Portal

First to be included is the new Leadership Management Dashboard (LMD) Version 4.0, which is packed-full of new features for NIFA Program Leaders, agency managers, and Land Grant (State Partner) Institutions.  The new LMD is a hybrid of our “legacy” Oracle version with the new:

This is a sample page from the new LMD 4.0

The application automatically switches contexts based on the menu option.  Here is an Oracle Portal view:

This is a sample view of the Oracle Portal portion of LMD 4.0

The goal for 2011 is to migrate the remaining features in Oracle Portal to the new infrastructure as we add additional capabilities.

The architecture for this new implementation includes:

  • VMWare ESX virtualization
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the OS
  • JBoss Application Server
  • JRuby/Rails (RoR)
  • The Hobo Extensions for Rails
  • InfoBright/MySQL for databases
  • Central Authentication Service (CAS) for SSO. (We have integrated CAS with Oracle OID, Ruby, and Java applications.)

I will steal the saying that “It takes a village” and apply it to our Barquin team. We have had contributions from a number of great developers on this journey.

We began the march to an open source version of LMD with the help of Tom Locke (father of Hobo) and Marcel Giorgi, who started building our Mondrian DSL written in Ruby, Rails, and Hobo, and kicked the tires on the InfoBright columnar database engine for MySQL.

Bryan Larsen came on board and has contributed his Rails and Hobo expertise to all we have done, including being key on the NIFA Portal end.  Gustav Paul and Angus Miller continued building and enhancing the open source portion of LMD 4.0, with the deep subject matter expertise and database design skills of Edmund Vergel de Dios, who has been the development lead  for LMD since 2007 and REEIS since 2003, and Chris Woody, who is our key CRIS developer and also a key contributor to LMD and REEIS.

Venka Ashtakala has been key to getting CAS working in all environments. Although LMD is the only app initially plugged into the NIFA Portal, CRIS, Plan of Work, and REEport (you’ll hear more about these later in 2011) have all been implemented and tested with the NIFA Reporting Portal, are in the queue, just waiting for the Green Light.  Venka has a long history at NIFA (previously CSREES) as well, working with our first open source project (CRIS using JSF with Oracle DB) and Plan of Work (Struts with MySQL DB)

Or newest addition to our software engineering team, Jack Compton, has been invaluable as our on-site Rails Guy.  We threw Hobo and The Kitchen Sink at him and he just came back for more.

Of course developers are only one part of the equation.  Ishita Yameen has been key as our seasoned Program Manager and Project Coordinator. She has made The Trains Run On Time.  Michelle Mascarenhas has a long history at NIFA, and her expertise in the many source systems feeding LMD, and expertise in drilling down on requirements is unique.  She also designed the suite of tests, and, with Anthony Prashanth, did much of the heaving lifting on testing and QA.   Irina Gotman took time from her Java work to put her energy and focus to help Michelle and Anthony with a chunk of the 650 tests.

We are very grateful to the NIFA CIO, Michel Desbois, Applications Director Dennis Unglesbee, LMD Project Manager Joe Barbano, and NIFA Portal Project Manager John Mingee. Under their leadership NIFA has become a open source and agile development innovator in the Federal arena.

There is a great collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit at NIFA that energizes our team members to give their very best every day.

Posted by Owen Dall

Founder and CTO

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