Application Registry FAQ
Q: What is an application registry?
A: An application registry will be a catalog of campus applications in use or desired. It will have an initial focus on departmental systems and enterprise administrative applications, and may include research and instructional applications. It will be a resource for managers, analysts, and developers to learn and share information about systems on campus, and may serve a broader campus audience.
Q: What is an application?
A: It is difficult to provide a precise definition of an application. For an exploration of some of the considerations involved, read this section of the Wikipedia page on Application Portfolio Management. We did agree that if somebody thinks something is a campus application, and should be included in the application registry, that would generally be good enough reason to include it.
Q: Why do we need an application registry?
A: The primary purpose of an application registry is to help folks learn about other applications on campus so that they can explore opportunities for sharing or reuse, before they go about re-inventing the wheel. A secondary purpose is to promote collaboration among developers on campus.
Q: How is this distinct from a source code repository?
A: It is distinct from a source code repository in that it does not seek to collect and maintain source code directly (although it may link to it).
Q: How is this distinct from a services registry?
A: It is distinct from the SOA concept of a services registry in that it is primarily a registry of applications rather than services. Services are generally consumed by other applications, while applications are generally used by end-users. There is some overlap between the two realms, but the vast majority of applications on campus are not "services" in this sense.
Q: Why not just use a wiki?
A: We want the data to be searchable and reportable in a more structured way.
Q: Can you really get something useful done at a campus-wide scope in a single semester using just a few percent of a group of staff's time?
A: While the project is intended to deliver value quickly, the number of hours per week from the participating volunteers is designed to be low, both to minimize the disruption from loss of staff-time to the participating units and to keep this effort accessible to nearly any qualified and interested staff, and also to demonstrate the utility of low-impact projects.
Q: Is there an application registry currently in use on campus?
A: No. There have been two recent point-in-time surveys conducted to determine what projects had been undertaken by departments: the CTC software project survey in 2008 and the Bain software project survey in 2010 (available at the OE IT Design Initiative bSpace site, in the document "Appendix A - Applications on campus - Bain 2010 and CTC 2008.xls" under OE IT Design Initiative Resources / Topic - Application Life Cycle Management / Briefing paper and supporting documents). But there is no living system in use. The need for one was called out in the OE IT briefing paper on application development.
Q: Is there another application registry project under development on campus?
A: We are aware of similar but not identical projects. The Tools and Services Registry project has a broader scope that ours (it aims to be a catalog of all kinds of technical tools and services, not just applications) and it has more of a social community focus (it will be "community-sourced", which means that any user can edit any data, and it will allow ratings and reviews). The Catalog of Service APIs is more of a services registry, focused on providing APIs to campus data sources.
Q: Are there application registries in use at other universities?
A: Yes. We are aware of the University of Washington (UW) Application Portfolio and the UCSF Application Inventory. Both of these are similar in scope and intention to our project.