Open Source Software in Higher-Ed

George Spake
University of Tennessee Health Science Center

About Me


Web Developer @ UTHSC in Memphis
Student @ University of Memphis
WordPress Fanatic
Open Source/Community Development Proponent


Open/Community Source Software

Open source development is nothing new but it's more accessible and popular than ever.

"Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code." (Derived work/ redistribution /Licensing etc...)

We use open source software everyday
WordPress. Android (AOSP) . Chrome . Firefox . 
Wikipedia . Jasig . Etc...


'Build Better Software Together'

Web-based hosting service for software development projects"

10 million + repositories as of December 2013.

Direct access to community development


Java in Administration Special Interest Group
Consortium of educational institutions and commercial 
affiliates sponsoring open source software projects for higher education

Central Authentication Service (CAS)



  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Accounts for around ~20% of all sites on the web
  • ~60% CMS market-share
  • User friendly (No coding experience required)
  • Used by higher ed institutions
  • Huge open source community


WP-login vs. Active Directory vs. CAS

Secure sign on,  NetID login

Popular Active-Directory Authentication WordPress plugin available but CAS would be preferable.

No attractive CAS plugins available (Not-actively maintained, Deprecated code, None using phpCAS)


Determined best option would be to develop a plugin.

Mostly a matter of integrating the phpCAS library in to the WordPress authentication API

After researching/testing/tweaking existing plugins, WordPress Authentication API was already familiar

In-house knowledge of phpCAS (Already in use)

IU-WPCAS as a template


Developed with an open-source mindset from the start.

After lots of testing/improvements...
It works!

Org Repo

Request process

Going live

No Public Announcement

Contacted IU-WPCAS and AD plugin developers

Positive feedback and emails from other higher-ed IT pros expressing interest.

Concerns / Worries:
"Your code is bad"
"Your code is not secure"

Think Open Source!

"Strength in numbers"

Consider open source options When making IT Decisions

  • Pros and Cons
  • Risk vs Reward
  • Economic Considerations

The trend towards open source models is gaining momentum in higher-ed. (Disruptive?)

Don't dismiss higher-ed open source options
(Jasig,  Kuali,  rSmart)

Consider open sourcing your work

Develop with the mindset that your code will be public.

Don't make the next person re-invent the wheel.

Become a better developer and strengthen code by allowing others to contribute and scrutinize your work.

You're in good company


references/useful links

Open Source Software in Higher-Ed

By gpspake

Open Source Software in Higher-Ed

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