Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Article Category

Content archived on 2023-04-03

Article available in the following languages:

A substantial boost for easily and safely producing new online apps

New Open Source technology called SwellRT has received a strong boost that will make it substantially easier and safer for developers to produce new applications and online services.

SwellRT is a framework for the development of collaborative decentralised apps. Importantly, it saves time for developers struggling with common tasks due to a simple Application programming interface (API) for real-time data storage, search, authentication, access control and event-based integration with third party systems. Whilst originally developed as part of the EU-funded P2PVALUE project (that ended in September 2016), SwellRT’s codebase is now being hosted by the Apache Software Foundation, a significant organisation supporting Open Source projects. The big benefit of the technology is that applications and their users are not dependent on one single central server controlled by the service provider. This is essential for the growth of a commons-based peer production (CBPP) economic model that aims to coordinate the creative energy of large numbers of individuals (think Wikipedia or Open Street Map as prominent examples of this). Existing products that provide web app and mobile app developers with a way to link their applications to backend cloud storage, known as Backend as a Service (BaaS) are centralised, which effectively means that applications and their users are dependent on one single central server controlled by the service provider. In contrast, SwellRT is the only BaaS technology capable of working in a decentralised manner due to an open protocol to interconnect services (a federated network) and exchange data in real-time. In essence, decentralisation enables SwellRT applications to offer greater freedom for users when deciding where to store their data and with which organisations and people to share it with. Additional benefits of decentralisation are greater resilience and interoperability of applications. Moving forward, the team behind SwellRT will work on providing its real-time collaboration features with end-to-end encryption, ensuring that apps and users will be able to share and handle data in a completely safe and confidential manner. In addition, they recently released Jetpad, as a SwellRT-based alternative to Google Docs, demonstrating the potentials of the platform. Whilst P2PVALUE was overall coordinated from the University of Surrey, UK, it was the project’s sole ICT partner, the GRASIA research group (Group of Agent-based, Social and Interdisciplinary Applications) based at the Complutense University of Madrid, that pioneered and developed the SwellRT technology. ‘The continued development of SwellRT and its uptake by the Apache Software Foundation, shows how EU support can often be the springboard for continued innovation and technological development even after the formal end of a project,’ commented GRASIA’s Samer Hassan. ‘The collaborative efforts undertaken in P2PVALUE were essential in designing and launching this technology which we hope will have a positive impact on Europe’s digital economy, as well as the continued growth of CBPP.’ For more information, please see: P2PVALUE website SwellRT official website


United Kingdom