Google takes Acre fully open source

Apps can now be built using a developer's favourite tools rather than the in-house Google app editor, but will still have close ties with Freebase APIs
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor on

On Wednesday, Google announced that Acre, the server-side JavaScript environment used to programme applications that access the Freebase database, is now fully open source.

Previously, development of Acre apps had to be achieved via the Google-owned Freebase.com, meaning developers wishing to build on the platform had to build the apps on the company's server, using Google's app editor. However, Google's behind-the-scenes work on taking the project fully open source means apps can now be built in a developer's native environment, using tools that are familiar to them.

The move also means that developers can now use Acre to produce non-Freebase apps, though the search giant notes that it still has close ties to Freebase, such as using numerous application programming interface (API) hooks that quickly and easily plug in to the Freebase database. Acre is based on Mozilla's implementation of JavaScript in Java — called Rhino — and stands for "A Crash of Rhinos Evaluating".

Freebase, a part of Metaweb, is an open, structured database that contains information about 12 million people, places, films, books, events and businesses. According to Google, the database contains about 400 million facts and connections between entities.

Metaweb was acquired by Google on 16 July as part of the company's desire to "improve search and make the web richer and more meaningful for everyone", as Google said at the time, adding that this would be "good for webmasters and good for users".

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