The creation of advanced interactive applications for cable television will be helped by the release of software tools from Cablelabs. The cable industry research and development consortium has made available an open source reference implementation of its tru2way technology, based on Java and the DVB MHP standard.

The source code implementation of CableLabs OpenCable Application Platform or OCAP middleware specification, now branded as tru2way, provides device manufacturers and application developers with a consistent interpretation of the specification. The reference implementation includes an extension to support digital video recorders and future versions will support other features such as home networking.

The software comes with a PC Emulator, enabling Java developers to run precompiled OCAP applications in a Microsoft Windows based personal computer development environment, without requiring a set-top box or specialist cable television hardware. The full reference implementation is available for free download under a GPL open source licence.

“Having an open source reference implementation to help developers interpret the specification will lead to a more consistent and stable television platform across the various retail devices, and set-top boxes provided by each different cable operator,” said Sree Kotay, the chief software architect at Comcast. “This should improve the pace of innovation, evolution, and deployment of the tru2way platform, which in turn should enable more interactive services and features for our customers.”

“With the addition of the tru2way reference implementation to the OpenCable project site, the cable industry is opening its doors to the independent Java application developer,” added So Vang, who is responsible for OpenCable at CableLabs and led the development of the reference implementation.

Developers have said that it will accelerate the adoption of tru2way and marks a great leap forward for interactive television in this United States, facilitating collaboration between the authors of the specifications, manufacturers of consumer electronics hardware, and the developers of application software.

As previously reported by informitv, CableLabs announced its intention to make the reference implementation available at The Cable Show in April.