Introducing the Sparta GitHub Organization and HoldMail

The Sparta research and development team is focused on delivering business value.  One way we achieve this goal is by taking advantage of Open Source technology. It allows the team to spend more time concentrating on the company’s quality management software. Using Open Source has many benefits, including:

  • Freedom from vendor lock-in.
  • Greater Interoperability when adhering to open standards.
  • Customization for specific business or where a current feature/function is lacking.
  • Support through active user communities, or fee-based support that is significantly lower than commercial alternatives. 
  • No cost (unless using fee-based support).

Bruce Kratz, VP of Research & Development at Sparta Systems, sums up the company’s position on open source this way:

“We have built a powerhouse engineering team here at Sparta.  The last thing I want to do is squander that valuable resource solving problems that our industry has already addressed.  Using the expertise of a world-wide Open Source community allows us to integrate market leading surround technology into our solutions.”

Although third-party components are used where it makes sense, we do not take the incorporation of these technologies lightly.  The vetting process includes evaluating adherence to open standards, community adoption, active contribution, ease of use, quality, and security.  License terms are also evaluated to ensure there are no conflicts for Sparta or its customers.  Ultimately, using Open Source strengthens our products and focus on items that have the highest business value for our customers. 

Sparta Believes in Giving Back to The Open Source Community

While we grind away on improving the products, we look to fill the technical gaps we experience. This allows us to give enhancements back to the Open Source project.  It has even led Sparta to launch its own GitHub organization.

Bruce has said that world-class software organizations lead by example and contribute to the advancement of technology that they have a passion for.  It’s a vision we all share and are so incredibly exited to see come to life with the launch of this hub.  

HoldMail is the first Open Source project contribution by Sparta, and is available for use under the Apache 2.0 license.  The project was conceived by Barry O’Neill, a senior member of the R&D organization.  HoldMail is a SMTP server that accepts email for any arbitrary email address but doesn’t deliver it to the outside world. As its name suggests, it holds the mail for later viewing via a web interface, or automated querying via a REST API.  Barry created HoldMail to alleviate mail-related challenges the team encountered during development and test automation.

HoldMail allows you to:

  • Automate tests to inspect emails requiring verification.
  • Test processes with many participants without the need to create and manage several email accounts or aliases.
  • Eliminate the need for account subaddressing, which isn’t properly supported by many providers (e.g. Exchange/Outlook 365). 
  • Prevent emails going to external email providers (dependant on the sensitivity of the data involved or system under test).
  • Avoid using external providers that can cause delivery delays or flag mail as spam.
  • Work with a large volume of email in a short period without having to worry about providers that may blacklist your server or network.

According to Barry:

“I installed HoldMail on our internal network last summer, and our automation suites have been using it daily since.  As someone whose daily work relies on the open source contributions of others, I’m delighted to be able to publish it in the hope that it helps others.  It’s great to get feedback from real use cases – I already have a healthy backlog for the next release!”

Sparta’s QA team has also benefited from Barry’s contribution.  Praveena Ram, Senior Quality Engineer at Sparta has notes how:

“HoldMail helps test email notifications with a simple yet powerful concept – capture all emails in one place.  Automation tests are now possible with scripts directly calling the REST APIs to query and retrieve message content.  With continuing enhancements to the tool to satisfy varying QA needs, quality functionality can now be delivered without the need for a valid email address!”

To download HoldMail and try it for yourself, visit the Sparta Systems GitHub organization at https://github.com/SpartaSystems

 

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