Last month, the British intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) published its first public project under the Apache 2 open source license.

Just after opening an account on the Github software repository and revision control platform, GCHQ published its first project. According to the description, Gaffer is a large-scale database system for graphs (networks of vertices and edges) in which the nodes as well as their interrelationships have properties and statistics that can be updated over time and from which views can be obtained over specific time windows. De database system is optimised for retrieving data on nodes of interest.

At the same time, the publisher of the software states that this version of Gaffer is no longer under active development, and that the current version, Gaffer2, will be released shortly.

More to come

Interestingly, Gaffer at its turn is based on Accumulo, a NoSQL database platform released by the US intelligence agency NSA (National Security Agency) in 2011.

A GCHQ spokesman told industry news site TechWeekEurope UK that their software developers and technologists aim to contribute to open source software projects. Gaffer is expected to be the first of many contributions that GCHQ will make to open source software. GCHQ hopes that Gaffer will be useful to others in the community, as well as helping its own technical staff as they continue to develop the software in the future.