Symbian is expected to go live with the open sourcing of the OPL development language at the Symbian Developer Expo in London at the end of this month. OPL was the development language for Psion's range of handhelds prior to Symbian's arrival on the scene, but has suffered somewhat in the intervening period. Symbian's intention to open source it was revealed last December, since when the company and interested parties have been working on the associated mechanisms.
Psion used to have a thriving developer community using OPL, but it didn't come with Symbian OS 6.0 and beyond, so it has become largely something for die-hard developers still catering for EPOC 5 devices. Last year Symbian did ship an OPL development kit for the OS 6.0-based Nokia 9210 (itself no spring chicken), but for OPL to survive it has to be made to address a broader range of newer Symbian devices. This would now seem to be happening, and far from being dead, OPL may turn out to be a development 'secret weapon' for Symbian.
According to David Mery of Symbian, the project will be overseen by one representative from Symbian and one from "the community." The Register would not be at all surprised if the latter turned out to be Ewan Spence of All About Symbian, who seems to bear a great deal of responsibility for persuading Symbian that there is still a case for OPL.
The open source experiment should be worth watching, particularly if manufacturers begin shipping OPL with some of their phones. On the old Psion platforms it provided a handy mechanism for users to develop their own applications, and helped Psion build a substantial developer community from that base. Add to that picture it being open sourced, and the user base being vastly larger, and you can see the possibility of it becoming more of a force than it ever was in the past. ®
Reg phone developer watch Sharp-eyed visitors to the Symbian Expo site won't have failed to notice that Orange, star of a Microsoft developer conference just last week, has taken the precaution of signing up as a Platinum Sponsor of the Symbian one. Yes, you're right, last year Orange was "only" a Gold Sponsor.