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Open Source in Finance Podcast: Project Updates & Hot Topics - James McLeod, FINOS

August 24, 2022

In this episode of the podcast, Niamh interviews James McLeod, Director of Community at FINOS. We talk project updates and what's happening in the FINOS community.

Episode show notes and transcript are available below.

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Aaron Griswold 0:03
Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening, wherever you are. This is Grizz Grizwold of FINOS. Hope you're doing well. This is the Open Source in Finance podcast. And in this episode of the podcast our marketing manager Niamh Parker talks with our Director of Community, James McLeod. They discuss updates to finance projects, so we hope he will play along and get involved. All right, with that, I need you to sit back relax and enjoy Niamh and James

Niamh Parker 0:42
Today in the podcast, we have James McLeod Director of Community. James is based just outside of London. He's been with FINOS now for just over three years. Prior to that he has experienced not only was in the open source world, but also working within the financial industry, including Lloyds Bank. But I'll let James introduce himself. So, hi James, welcome to the podcast again. We've done this a few times. Already, in the past with Grizz, our usual host on the podcast. Anyway, how are you doing today?

James McLeod 1:19
Hey, Niamh. Yeah, I'm very well, thank you. Thank you so much for inviting me back on the podcast. It's great to be here with you, and the rest of the finance community who are listening.

Niamh Parker 1:27
Great, great. I'm looking forward to chatting to you today, actually, James, because you're always quite insightful about what's happened in the community, you know, all the different, you know, maintainers projects. And I know, I only started in March, but I think even chatting to you on a daily basis, even through slack, I think you give a lot of updates. And it's it's quite educational, not only for me, but for other people. So I'm glad that we have you on the podcast. So with that, what are the activities that are happening in FINOS that you'd like to talk about?

James McLeod 2:04
Yeah, absolutely. And I'm really pleased that you think my updates are educational, it's good that I actually give that off, because that's exactly what I'm trying to do. And today what I want to speak about, with everybody who's listening, is just how FINOS is growing. So before we actually go through some project updates, I want to take people through some figures that we actually communicated to the rest of the FINOS community, on our All Community Call. And this is with relation to how FINOS projects are actually being consumed. And so this isn't all of the code that's going into FINOS projects. This is on the opposite side of this. This is when code has gotten into FINOS projects. And we have new releases going out into the open source community, and how those releases are being brought down by the wider technology community and being used in situ, whether this is in banks, or it could be anywhere. I mean, that's the whole benefit of open source. Even though FINOS is a finance open source foundation, our projects can be used by anybody anywhere. Now what I want to try and convey over a podcast is that we're seeing massive growth through our NPM registries, and also Maven Central. Now that what that is actually showing, through our perspective, morphir, legend, FDC3, and T.R.A.C. projects that if you go to the FINOS organization on GitHub, is that we're not just putting code into repositories, and people aren't just bringing those repositories local to their local software engineering environments. But people are actually going out there. And they're installing all of these libraries and all of their software, from Maven, and they're also bringing them into their JavaScript projects to be used. And that's hugely exciting, because, number one, it demonstrates the open source in finance is growing, and there is a need for it, which is absolutely amazing. Whereas I remember five years ago, when I was working within the banks, open source in finance was a dream. You know, it's actually a dream of mine and some people who I knew at that time, but now it's a reality open source in finances growing, and also being consumed. You know, there was once a time when getting code into an open repository was a dream, but actually getting code from those repositories through registries and into projects is just absolutely amazing. So if it's okay with you, Niamh, I'd like to kind of like explore that just a little bit more. And also how projects surrounding FINOS and also other open source projects elsewhere, can accelerate this and make it even better than what it is today.

Niamh Parker 4:59
Yes, of course, I'm happy for you to go ahead. I mean, you mentioned about the growth in open source and finance. And I think that's, that's great. And it's also helped our community as well grow. And obviously having the maintainers on those projects, like you said, is great for for the industry. So happy for you to go ahead.

James McLeod 5:21
Yeah. Okay. Thank you very much. That's amazing. So what I want to talk through is perspective, well, mainly, I'm going to be honest, and I'm going to be honest with the community out there, I come from a very JavaScript enabled background, which means that open source is everywhere within the JavaScript landscape. I also know within the Java landscape, the open source is also, you know, extremely central as well through Maven. But what I'm actually noticing, through NPM, especially, is that we have projects such as perspective, which is actually being consumed by JavaScript projects, and also FDC3, which is very, you know, JavaScript esque, even though it's a standard. And also T.R.A.C., which is using NPM, all of these various different projects are actually finding their way into other related project teams. And that is amazing. Because as soon as you start lending your projects to be consumed by the wider software engineering, especially in Javascript, and also in Java communities, once those projects are in there, you know, they're kind of baked in. And, you know, the rise of those projects is actually really exponential. As soon as you become, you know, key to any form of engineering landscape in any of these types of environments that really lend themselves to open source, and you are a trusted open source project, then people are going to notice that you are in, you know, whatever your project may be, and other people are going to start consuming them. And so in order to really kind of like land yourself to that, I know that this important, you know, for projects within open source to see themselves through GitHub and other mechanisms as really popular through stars and people who are forking and how much contribution is going in. But something that I would like to really advocate is making sure that those projects that are actually being developed within those repositories are lending themselves to being consumed as well. And that's what these stats are showing, not only, not only are they showing that these projects are popular within GitHub, but these projects are also being developed in a way that they can be consumed, okay, and that is really important as well. So when you take a project directly from a repo as code, it means that you need to physically place them in a project or physically compile them, or physically configure them, in order for them to be used. Now, there's this huge benefit to having the code there, you know, having it observable, having the code enabled to be brought down, you know, into an engineering environment to be used. But if you're able to put a wrapper around it, you know, that delivers it almost like a, you know, a festive gift or a birthday present to somebody where all they need to do is unwrap the present or undo the bow, you know, and it's like, you know, something that, you know, creates a lot of ease, and it's like a, you know, an engineering experience that makes those projects really consumable, then you can actually accelerate the growth of your project, not only are you putting code into GitHub and allowing people to use it as code, but you're also delivering it to other people in very popular registries that allows that project to be consumed and used. And this is what we're demonstrating through, you know, the facts and figures that are coming out out of these registries right now.

Niamh Parker 9:08
No, I think that's really interesting, James and, you know, for the benefits your community as well for people that do not know, do you want to just give a little bit of information about how everything is open, and they are unable to go in and, and grab that code? Like you said, you know, sweetie wrapper before, or a Christmas present. For for people who may not know about FINOS, would you give a bit of background on?

James McLeod 9:35
Absolutely. So the projects I'm going to mention now, are projects that you can go on to Maven, and go on to NPM. And find, you know, so if you go on to NPM, you'll be able to find perspective, you'll be able to find FDC3, and you'll be able to find T.R.A.C., you know, as well as going into the FINOS organization on GitHub. So if you go to forward slash FINOS See, you'll be able to find the code, you know, the represents that project where people are developing upon those. But if you're interested in consuming, you know, go on to NPM. And also go on to Maven Central, you know, if you want to consume Morphir, or if you want to consume Legend as well, because those projects are actually there. But there are other ways in which these projects are also enabling themselves to a really great engineering experience. And I want to point out to projects that they're actually engaging themselves through Kubernetes. And also in a similar way, okay, so these two projects, although they they are independent, so they're independently contributed by Goldman Sachs. And they are independently contributed by Deutsche Bank, they both use a similar mechanism to be able to get themselves onto the hybrid cloud. Now, the first project is Legend. This is actually a big complex project, which was contributed by Goldman Sachs into FINOS maybe two years ago. Now standing on its own Legend is actually you know, a big project with a lot of complexity surrounding it. So bringing it on to your hybrid cloud solution, no matter who your cloud service provider is, would actually be quite a big configuration job number one, bringing down the project. Number two, configuring it, number three, testing it. And then number four, keeping it maintained, and up to the latest version release. And that is also the same for Waltz. Waltz is also a big project contributed by Deutsche Bank, to get Waltz onto the hybrid cloud, you will need to do the same, you'd need to download the code, you would need to configure it locally, you would need to keep it maintained, and you'd need to keep it tested. Now we recognize this, you know, the, the effort, the engineering operational effort to do this was huge. And so we put the challenge forward to the FINOS community to be able to solve this. And in order to solve this for both projects, a team from Canonical and also CloudBase stepped forward to use Juju and Charms, which actually take these projects and install them on a Kubernetes platform. And also provide a day to operational mechanism that was actually contributed as infrastructure as code to FINOS. And so you can see all of this work in Legend JuJu bundle, and also Waltz Juju bundle, which is basically a command line mechanism for bringing these two big projects onto your hybrid cloud using the command line - it's absolutely amazing. So not only do we have NPM projects, which can be brought down into JavaScript projects, you know, through NPM install. And not only do we have Maven Central projects that can be boiled down into your Java, software engineering, you know, solution. But we also have Kubernetes bundles, you know, that use Juju and Charms, they allowed you to go on to your cloud service provider and install them on the command line. And this is engineering experience. And this is how you can really accelerate your projects. And this is what we're doing in FINOS. We don't well, we do want people to contribute code into GitHub. But we also want our projects to be successfully consumed. So we get that real impact and return on engineering experience. And this is what is absolutely phenomenally exciting right now within FINOS.

Niamh Parker 13:41
Yeah, that sounds great. And to be honest, you know, most of the projects are very complex. And you mentioned their Waltz and Legend. Would you have two lines to maybe, you know, summarize those for our audience in the podcast and what they actually mean or what they do?

James McLeod 14:01
Yeah, absolutely. So for those who aren't aware of Legend by Goldman Sachs, it's a engineering environment or ecosystem that allows you to describe financial objects in a codified way. So rather than the industry duplicating the way the financial objects are being described as code, Legend allows you to consolidate the the industry's thinking into almost like a central standard. So lots of different financial services institutions, within their engineering teams can describe the way that financial transactions and financial objects are being passed around, which is actually really great for interoperability across the industry. Because if I wanted to pass some information, for instance, through an API from one bank to the next, I would need to transform that information from one internal standard to another bank's internal standard, Legend allows that to happen as code and bring all of those banks together to describe them. Waltz, which was contributed by Deutsche Bank, is a way to describe your internal systems architecture within a bank. So within the banking landscapes, especially within big capital markets, and also retail banking, banks, there's lots of systems architectures, you know, it's a massive landscape, you know, within banks, I don't know whether people you know, know this, but there are loads of different systems that need to interoperate, you know, between each other. And sometimes you can't see, you know, from one end of the bank to the next, when it comes to systems and how they relate. Waltz is a way for internal banking teams to add all of the information that everybody else needs to know about the systems that they're running inside banks, including their internal API's, the different licenses and everything that, you know, if you need information between systems, you know, a software architect may need to know this info. Waltz is a system that brings all of that together in a really nice slick UI. And so it provides loads of benefits for internal system architects, and people who need to know the landscape of an internal banking, information architecture, and to say systems architecture. It's, it's phenomenal.

Niamh Parker 16:34
No, thanks for that, James. And, you know, even having that lead out to the community, and you know, even from back in April, we had our Waltz meet up in London, speak into the team at DB and hearing all the huge benefits coming from Waltz. And, obviously, Legend as well. Yes. You mentioned when we were talking offline about CFI. And no, these these projects are quite complex. But how CFI is doing something similar for the for the Kaos service? And do you want to touch on that?

James McLeod 17:11
Yeah, so CFI is Compliant Financial Infrastructure. And it's a FINOS project that I've had the luxury to be part of now for a couple of years. Now CFI, Compliant Financial Infrastructure is also accelerating. We've got a great team of maintainers, from Deutsche Bank from JPMC. From CodeThink and also from Sonar Type, who are really motivating the community of Compliant Financial Infrastructure to get code in now, what Compliant Financial Infrastructure is doing is also really building an engineering experience around infrastructure as code for the compliant hybrid cloud infrastructure of a bank. So if you're working within a bank, you know that you have certain policies and compliance standards that need to be hit. You know, when you create a new piece of systems infrastructure, on your cloud service provider, you know, no matter who that is, so no matter whether it's GCP, no matter whether it's Azure, or AWS, everybody needs to be compliant. Now, what we're trying to do within Compliant Financial Infrastructure, is bring all of that infrastructure as code that describes this financial hybrid cloud landscape together in a single place. So banks within the industry, if they want to create, you know, some form of service on their cloud solution, they don't have to reinvent it, you know, it's all done in a single place. We've got bank contributors, you know, people who really understand all of the various different compliance rules and all of the various different policies and standards needed in order to make you know, those services safe for the banking industry. I'm really pleased to say that, um, we've had some really great engagement through Compliant Financial Infrastructure. So we're now working with the EDM Council and CDMC to make sure that anything that's data related, is compliant against the CDMC, data standard that they actually provide, which is amazing. And so they are, you know, recognized by the EDM Council, and it's really great to be in partnership with them. I'm also pleased to announce the Hashi Corp have noticed, you know, the popularity of Compliant Financial Infrastructure. So we're working more with Hashi Corp on their TerraForm solutions, and how we can magnify those and also get them out, you know, across the financial landscape from FINOS and so that's fantastic, you know, so the more TerraForm we have in Compliant Financial Infrastructure, the better because you know, people recognize TerraForm. And they use it. Now, one of the, I kind of see this as amazing pull requests that was raised into compliant financial infrastructure. So this is from Red Hat, where they've been working within a banking partner, to configure OpenShift, which is a Red Hat, open source product on Google Cloud Platform, inside a bank, but rather than keeping it inside a bank, you know, all of these configurations and settings have actually been contributed into Compliant Financial Infrastructure. And so from my point of view, I love it. Because not only is work that's happening inside a bank being leveraged inside a bank, but it's immediately coming into the open source landscape as well to be leveraged by others. And so I want to give a massive, high five, you know, to the CFI team, to get in this cycle of work kind of demonstrated, and I want everyone to know that they're doing it, you know, so work that's actually happening in banks, is actually being contributed directly into open source. Now, you know, it's not being kept to catch inside the bank hidden in a internal banking repo, it's going straight into FINOS, you know, so, you know, thank you to the team who's enabling that, and please, everybody else, follow this example, because this is how you really also accelerate open source in finance.

Niamh Parker 21:34
And that's great, James. And yes, it definitely, you know, lead by example, and maybe it is a good example, for other banks to look at and say, hey, they're doing the same, why don't we start to contribute to FINOS. And I know, there's a lot of, you know, regulation around it. But, you know, from example of Goldman Sachs and DB, and Red Hat as well, which is great.

James McLeod 22:03
Absolutely, I'm absolutely 100% behind you on what you said, and we shouldn't sit back and not say anything about these things. So if people are noticing that there are contributions coming into their projects, from unknown sources, you know, or people who are new, sing, sing about it, you know, post on Twitter, put it on LinkedIn, you know, celebrate the fact that your open source project is successful. And it's being recognized, you know, by people outside of those who surround you, it's important that we recognize that the footprint of open source isn't the three people who you talk to, you know, within your team, every day contributing into the project, you know, call out the issues, you know, thank people for what they're doing, you know, recognize PRs that are being raised by new people, it's really important that people know that open sourcing in finance is growing. And you know, that boom is accelerating. And that's what I'm trying to do here today. And also give people a few pointers on how they can really magnify that and get that, you know, accelerating even more through awesome engineering experience.

Niamh Parker 23:11
Exactly. And, you know, if if, you know, some people have questions or whatever, you can always reach out to your mail inbox community at There's one question that I wanted to do your, your mentioning, you know, given shoutouts James. So what are people doing? And then also, can you give us examples, maybe, maybe a top 10 list of the most active projects, and given them some kudos on the work, great work that they've been doing?

James McLeod 23:40
Yeah, absolutely. So I've gone to the FINOS organization on GitHub. And I've actually, so, on the front page of the FINOS organization, and any organization on GitHub, you'll get a list of all of the projects that are being worked upon at that particular point in time. Now, the great thing is you can sort that by, you know, what is has actually been happening, you know, within the last X amount of time, you know, from the last 10 seconds, all the way through to, you know, the last 10 days. So, what I'm going to do Niamh, I'm going to kind of like shuffled the deck, you know, because I'm using that sword, you know, to just call out the projects that are active now. Right. So this isn't going to, you know, a metrics dashboard and saying, you know, who's been active over the last year this is going into FINOS and saying who is active now? So I have just hit the refresh button on this sort. And so this is right here right now. So at the top of the list, we have Legend Engine, which is which is part of the Legend ecosystem. And I can see the this has been updated within the last 14 minutes. And so it's 11am here in the UK right now. And so I can see that people at this time are contributing into Legend, Morphir Elm has been contributed into within the last hour, along with Symphony Media Bridge. So both the Morgan Stanley team, whoever it may be, it might not even be Morgan Stanley who made that contribution. But certainly people who have been using Morphir Elm have been contributing into that. And the same as Symphony Media Bridge. That project it's also been contributed into today. Now, what we need to remember is that the FINOS community isn't just within the UK timezone, it's within a global timezone as well. And so within the last few hours, Legend Studio has also been contributed into. Perspective, I can see that that's been active, the team, you know, predominantly in the US, which means that all of these updates, you know, landed within the US timezone, but it's also using the UK and globally. I know people who are consuming Perspective in Singapore, you know, so Credit Suisse recently came on and did an interview to say that they are using Perspective within a Visual Studio Code plug in the actually being created, you know, by a Credit Suisse engineer, and so I can see the Perspective. Yeah, along with Legend Studio is extremely active to FDC3, you know, that's been active within, you know, less than half a day, they've had contributions going into FDC3. And so it's great to see that, you know, people both in the UK, and also another time zones are contributing into FDC3, Symphony has got a lot of work, you know, happening as well, three Symphony Electron, and also the Symphony, W.D.K. Now, we're kind of getting into the last 24 hours. And so I like to thank, you know, everybody who's been working on the Symphony suite, and then coming into kind of like, the last day, you know, so the last 24 hour period, Compliant Financial Infrastructure, I can see that that's been active too. So well done. Morphir Scala, well done for being, you know, updated within the last 24 hours. And then I'm going to end on let me see. Legend Community Delta, which I can also see has been updated, maybe within the last 24 hours also. And so there, we've got kind of like a real rundown of what's been happening as soon as I hit that refresh button. So this hasn't been, you know, creating an advanced this is running down the list, as I see it within the FINOS organization right now.

Niamh Parker 27:49
But James, is there anything else that you want to cover before we wrap things up?

James McLeod 27:54
Yeah, there was one thing that I just wanted to mention. And that was to give a bit of a high five to Open Source Readiness. Because I've noticed, within the special interest group, that there have been contributions to the Open Source Readiness documentation that they are bringing together to provide information to open source program offices within the financial services industry. So I'd like to say thank you to the Open Source Readiness SIG for contributing three articles to the microsite that they maintain. So we have the articles considerations and guidance for electronic communication policies in open source, working with DLP limitations on open source access, and considerations and guidance for records management regarding open source. Now something else to note is that Open Source Readiness, FINOS, and also ToDo Group came together at the Open Source in Finance Forum in London. And so I'd like to say thank you to all of the banks who came together under Chatham House rule to really get into the weeds of some of the issues that banks are actually facing. Now, under Chatham House rule, we kind of keep all of this information anonymized. But it's really good, you know, to understand what needs to be solved, how Open Source Seadiness can help that, you know, the potential synergies with the ToDo Group who are also a sibling community that are also working for open source OSPOs. Yeah, and please keep an eye out for a similar roundtable session that we're going to run at the New York Open Source in Finance Forum. Because it was good to bring banks together in a room, you know, where people can speak free and open. Where sometimes speaking, so free and open isn't quite so easy. So thank you, everybody who attended the made that session a real success.

Niamh Parker 29:56
Yes, kudos to everyone involved. And you mentioned the ToDo Group we actually had on on our podcast last week. So thank you to her as well. And James, you mentioned the Open Source Finance Forum in New York call for proposals are now open, and also register if you would like to get involved. That is in New York in December 8th.

James McLeod 30:21
absolutely, and something else needs I'm going to squeezing is, um, both myself and yourself are going to be in Dublin, between the 13th and 16th of September for the Linux Foundation, Open Source Europe Summit, where we will have a FINOS stand. And yesterday, I learned that I can actually speak at the event as well. And so I'm going to be on stage. And so if there's anybody, you know, listening, who wants to go to Dublin, you know, feel free to, you know, register for the event, if you are in Dublin, for the event. So whether you're a FINOS member, or whether you're an open source contributor to a different project, or whether you're a member of the Linux Foundation, swing by the FINOS stand, come find us. And it'd be really great if you could come support me, as I do my presentation, it'd be great to see some friendly faces in the audience. You know, as I tell everybody about FINOS.

Niamh Parker 31:18
Yep, that would be great. And even if you do come to your booth, well, we'll get you a coffee and, and maybe a drink of the Guinness after that. Thank you, James. And that was very insightful and educational. I hope our audience found it the same. So we'll put everything together that we discussed here in the show notes at the end, and we hope you get involved if you haven't already. And kudos to those who have contributed consumed. And obviously those top 10 active projects as well. Kudos to you. So thanks, James. I hope you have a great rest of your day. And I'm sure you'll be on the podcast soon.

James McLeod 32:01
Thank you Niamh. Thank you for inviting me here today. It's been great being involved.

Niamh Parker 32:06
Thanks, James. Okay, so you can get involved with the FINOS community by signing up on to our newsletters to This Week at FINOS or email communications, which is a rundown of what's happening within the community on a weekly basis. Get involved with our Slack channels, our social media clients on LinkedIn and Twitter. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please rate us on whatever podcast platform you follow. We're always on the lookout for people who want to feature on our podcast so please reach out reach out to us at Thanks everyone and hope to see y'all soon

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About the Open Source in FINANCE Podcast

The FINOS Open Source in Finance Podcast celebrates open source projects and interesting topics at the cross section of financial services and open source. So far, our industry experts have discussed practical applications of and their real-world experiences with a range of open source projects including desktop interoperability, low code platforms, synthetic data, and data modeling. They’ve also discussed best practices for inner source, common myths about open source and why commercial companies choose to introduce open source offerings. Tune in and subscribe to hear what comes next.


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