Open Source for the Royal Navy

Royal Navy launched an open source toolkit for application development

Published on: 26/11/2019

The United Kingdom's naval warfare force, the Royal Navy, launched the NELSON programme as part of its digital transformation strategy. Moving towards open source, the Royal Navy now provides the open source NELSON Standard toolkit, and requires its future IT suppliers to have capability to develop digital services “using a range of Open Source Technologies”.

Royal Navy open source

A wider innovation strategy for the Royal Navy

As part of its digital transformation strategy, the Royal Navy launched the NELSON programme. The Programme focuses on using Artificial Intelligence and data science to build a “Ship’s Mind”, enabling better decision making. One of the requirements for the future selected IT suppliers is the capability to develop digital services using a range of open source technologies, including but not exclusively: Apache NiFi, Apache Hbase, Apache Hive, Apache Phoenix-SQL, Scala, Hadoop File System, Python, React-JS, Docker, Jenkins.

The open source NELSON Standard toolkit

The NELSON Standards toolkit, released under an Apache License 2.0 and published on GitHub, is a set of rules and feature source codes for applications used by the Royal Navy. Features include numerous components such as visual elements, notifications or typography. The first version of the toolkit was released on 25 July 2019.

The aim of the NELSON Standards toolkit is to maintain high visual consistency and user-experience quality across the different applications developed or subcontracted by the Royal Navy and, at the same time, to open the source code of those visual elements.

The Standard toolkit is divided into three categories:

  • Styles: it includes the guidelines for typography, colour and spacing;
  • Components: it includes the source code of individual elements such as buttons, text inputs or headers; and
  • Patterns: it is a collection of components to describe how a user is presented with a simple workflow.

On the NELSON toolkit website, the Royal Navy encourages developers to contribute to the project by pulling a GitHub request or contacting the NELSON programme team directly.