Project Direction, Goals, and Mission


"To make software systems as capable, manipulable and future proof as the best in science fiction, without waiting 4 centuries, using concurrency as a tool to make them easier and more natural"

OK, this is a recent change, and needs to change again, but is slightly less cheesy than:

Kamaelia is an open source project that has as it's less than obvious goal creating the computer systems that you'd find on next gen version of the USS Enterprise, just not waiting 4 centuries for it.

And definitely less teeth jarring than:

"To do for software systems what IKEA has done for furniture, and spreadsheets have done for traditional business, but for the BBC's business of story telling & distribution."

This reflects the fact the project lead works at, and Kamaelia originated at the BBC.

Practical Goals

In concrete terms this mission means:

  • Kamaelia systems should be creatable, eventually, by a user with a similar level of ease as using a speadsheet.
    Why? This would make it a much more creative tool, and useful for the average non-programmer in a creative environment, where they don't need to wait for a programmer to help them envisage their goal. Our Compose tool is beginning to push capabilities upwards.
  • Kamaelia needs to support the various ways stories can be told and distributed
    • Either through creation of subsystems, or better - by integrating external best of breed systems where possible.
    • This includes tools for manipulation of traditional content (audio, video) from traditional sources (cameras, broadcast, files) as well as user interfaces (traditional, modern, games 2/3D, web), etc
    • This implies that networking systems must be adaptable & malleable. Furthermore it means that any and all online distribution mechanisms need to be explored for suitability, preferably through integration in subsystem form.
  • Kamaelia must work for the average programmer as well as the uber-programmer.
    Given the goal of parallelism this is unsual. In order is to allow the non-programmer to use their systems, subsystems must inherently and easily be able to be used/created in this way. Not as a bolt on, or odious, but because it naturally falls out of the way the system works.
  • Systems should be future proofed - this is our starting point, driving many design decisions
    In practical terms, hardware is (finally, as long predicted) going multicore and parallel. Parallel systems programming is currently considered hard. Kamaelia aims to make concurrent/parallel systems as simple as possible from a maintenance perspective. Kamaelia's approach comes from this perspective, however it is part of a larger picture.
  • This all needs to be as cross platform as possible
Kamaelia 0.5.0 seems to point that these goals are achievable.

Project Direction

Concrete, ongoing aspects of the project that show direction:
  • Compose: To build and extend graphical tools for creating software systems.
  • Axon: To make software created now relevant in the future - this means making concurrency actually usable.
  • Whiteboard: To build the tools that are repurposable, that are networked distribution tools in their own right, and are useful for collaboration, communicators and storytellers
The project is typically driven by projects and aims originating inside the BBC. This is then used to stimulate development of both those projects & Kamaelia itself. You are welcome to do the same.
The current project direction is aimed at improving the toolset to allow high quality realtime efficient communication and collaboration, whilst extracting useful subsystems that can reused in novel ways, along with consolidating existing work for reusability. As a result tools enabling
  • High quality audio & video capture
  • Audio/video manipulation
  • Integration with common systems & tools (eg Databases, XML, RSS/Atom sources/sinks)
  • Tools for organisation of materials for collaboration
  • Areas which can be enhanced
    • Graphline editors - such as compose or the nascent 360 degree tool
    • AV capture
    • Pygame & Open GL support
    • Protocols for communicating data as well as control information across the network (both obvious and non obvious)

Are all of interest, but preferably driven by real world problems. This list is non-exhaustive.


I know, I know. Very american, very un-european. Sorry :) Some of it grates for me as much as you, but it's useful to know what we're doing and why? I hope :-)

Knowing where the developers are headed or being lead is useful to know. See "Eh?" below if you find this page painful! If you're interested in developing Kamaelia, please take a peek at Visions of Kamaelia, and add your thoughts.

What do we mean by Mission, Goals, Direction above?

A mission is essentially one vision from Visions of Kamaelia, based on the project leads' view. Goals are wider in scope and can support that mission or any of the other Visions of Kamaelia. Project Direction reflects current developer priorities. New developers will bring their own priorities. The mission currently reflects that the project lead works at, and the project originated at the BBC. There is no expectation that you share these aims, visions or goals. Sharing your personal vision expands the project, benefitting everyone.

-- Michael Sparks, November 2006 (updated lightly May 2008)


Kamaelia is an open source project originated from and guided by BBC Research. For more information browse the site or get in contact.

This is an ongoing community based development site. As a result the contents of this page is the opinions of the contributors of the pages involved not the organisations involved. Specificially, this page may contain personal views which are not the views of the BBC. (the site is powered by a wiki engine)

(C) Copyright 2008 Kamaelia Contributors, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, All Rights Reserved

This web site is powered by the same code created for the bicker manor project. For more details, contact Michael Sparks at BBC Research directly (cf contact)