Walmart have set an example to the retail sector with a significant export of Open Source code to supplement the 140 projects already developed by their technical team in the open.
Whilst transferring the Walmart.com retail platform to React and Node.js, Electrode was created to power the e-commerce platform which serves 80 million visitors per month and 15 million items.
Electrode was released as an Open Source application with the OSI approved Apache 2.0 licence and can be found in the Walmart Labs Github account. It provides various developer enhancements and tools for the developer including Node.js configuration and feature management.
Alex writes about some of the challenges experienced by developers working on large projects. These include code re-use, performance and best practice. He says: “The problems we solved at @WalmartLabs, we want to solve for the community. So that’s what Electrode gives you out of the box”
In the first month following the announcement, Alex has engaged with the communities and responded to many questions asked about the software. The Github repository has already gained over 200 Github stars and contributions from the core developers are maintained on a daily basis.
Although early days for Electrode, this does look like a sincere investment in the Open Source ecosystem. On one hand, it enables other retailers to import the code and build their own competing platforms. On the other, it clearly sets Walmart as a lead innovator in this space and enables them to bring to life from contributions and enhancements submitted by external developers.
It will be interesting to see which forward-thinking retailers follow suit or collaborate in using and improving the software exported by Walmart.