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Facebook contributes Ent project to the Linux Foundation

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In 2019, Facebook open-sourced Ent, an entity framework for the programming language Go that’s designed to make it easier to build apps with large data models. After roughly two years of development, Ent will move under the governance of the Linux Foundation, it was announced today, with the goal of fostering the community of companies using it.

“This additional step of enabling open source contributors to take direct ownership of a project’s technical vision is part of our longstanding commitment to open and sustainable innovation,” Facebook project manager Michael Cheng said in a statement. “Enabling a project’s maintainers to chart their course often sparks additional investment, contributions, and new companies building products and platforms based on that project … We see that Ent is already following a similar pattern, and we’ll be cheering on the Ent community as it enters this next stage of exciting growth.”

A growing project

The Ent project was inspired by an entity framework Facebook used — and continues to use — internally. Created by the Facebook Connectivity team, Ent aims to ease the burden of maintaining a codebase used to manage hundreds of different entity types with complex relationships. Ent leverages graph concepts to model an app’s schema and code generation techniques to create code that simplifies working with databases, mapping between objects (e.g., a user account) in apps to the tables and columns of a relational database. (In the context of app development, a schema uses keywords to define data properties like descriptions and data types.)

In the time that Ent was open-sourced, engineers from Facebook, GitHub, Scaleway, and others have contributed to it. The framework has also been used by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and other open source ecosystems, including the recently launched data fabric solutions provider Ariga.

“From the start, it was obvious that Ent would present a unique and compelling value proposition to a diverse range of use cases across any industry with complex technology stacks,” Ent creator and lead maintainer Ariel Mashraki wrote in a blog post. “The promise of collaborating with a broad coalition of users was the main reason we open-sourced Ent.”

Ent is only the latest Facebook-originated tool contributed to the Linux Foundation. Others include Magma, a platform for building wireless networks; GraphQL, a query language for APIs; Presto, an open source distributed SQL query engine; and ONNX, an open format built to represent machine learning models. Last August, Facebook joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member, and the company’s developers regularly contribute to projects, including the React JavaScript library, the Open Compute Project, and Linux’s cGroup2 container software.

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