The GitHub Student Developer Pack
GitHub has partnered with a host of commercial and open-source platforms to release the GitHub Student Developer Pack. The developer pack provides students with free access to developer tools.

“There’s no substitute for hands-on experience, but for most students, real world tools can be cost prohibitive,” John Britton, education liaison at GitHub, wrote on the organization’s blog. “With the GitHub Student Developer Pack, students now have free access to an entire suite of useful developer tools.”

To get the developer pack, students must be at least 13 years old, be enrolled in a degree or diploma granting course of study, have a school-issued email address, a valid student ID card and other official proof of enrollment. The pack contains both open-source and commercial developer tools, including Atom, Bitnami, Crowdflower, DigitalOcean, DNSimple, GitHub, HackHands, Namecheap, Orchestrate, Screenhero, SendGrid, Stripe, Travis CI and Unreal Engine.

IBM releases Watson APIs
IBM’s Watson Developer Cloud team has released the first batch of APIs for its cognitive technology platform, in order to gain developer feedback.

Available through IBM’s BlueMix cloud platform, the set of APIs includes documentation and code for Watson services such as concept expansion, language identification, machine translation, and question and answer.

“We have many more APIs in the pipeline but we decided to come out quickly with a small set to start with,” IBM Watson Developer Cloud software engineer Patrick Senti wrote on Hacker News. “We are trying get some early feedback from the developer community on what they find useful, what they’d like to see, how the APIs are designed, the quality of the documentation and example code, etc. Comments and questions are very welcome!”

The IBM Watson APIs, documentation and example code can be found here.

Google updates cross-platform Android developer tools in Google Play Games Services
Google is bolstering its game developer tools for Android, adding Material Design refresh across Android, cross-platform C++ and iOS SDKs.

Game services UIs are now updated for Material Design across all SDKs. The update also brings real-time multiplayer capabilities in the cross-platform C++ SDK, as well as new quest features, features, completion statistics and multiplayer statistics available for integration in Android games. Google is also expanding the alerts available in the developer console for additional issues, including real-time implementation and duplicate achievement and leaderboard image problems.

Google Play Games team member Ben Frenkel announced all the Android developer tool updates in a blog post.

Facebook releases open-source Chef cookbooks and tools
Facebook has made two DevOps tools for the IT automation and configuration management platform Chef available free and open-source, in addition to the company’s two open-source “cookbooks” for Chef.

Taste Tester, available on GitHub, is Facebook’s testing framework for managing a Chef zero-instance and testing changes on a production server.  Taste Tester also keeps track of  where in Git the instance occurred and can be controlled using a variety of configuration file options or a customized plugin. The second tool, Grocery Delivery, is a utility for managing cookbook uploads to distributed back-ends within the Chef infrastructure.

The two cookbooks, for running scheduled jobs and for system controls, respectively, are also available on GitHub.

Brown Dog: The Super Mutt of Software
A team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is working on an easier way for researchers to manage and make sense of digital scientific data. The problem with digital data is that it’s often trapped in outdated file formats, according to the NCSA.

The team is working on Brown Dog software, a service that would make past and present un-curated data easily accessible and useful to scientists. Instead of starting from scratch, the team will work on top of previous software development work to create a service that can deal with vast amounts of data.

“Brown Dog is the proverbial “super mutt” of software, serving as a low-level data infrastructure to interface with digital data content across the web and enabling a new era of science and applications at large,” according to the NCSA team’s website.