CableLabs has bulked up its tru2way toolbox with the release today of new software tools that were designed to enable more interactive content for cable networks.

CableLabs completed its beta development phase of the tru2way Reference Implementation and has made it publicly available through, Sun Microsystems’ open source project site.

CableLabs said the tru2way Reference Implementation is a source code implementation of its OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) middleware specification and provides device manufacturers and application developers with a consistent interpretation of the specification. The Reference Implementation includes the OCAP DVR extension, and future versions will track with other OCAP extensions such as home networking.

The tru2way Reference Implementation also has a PC Emulator. With the new software tools, Java developers can run precompiled OCAP applications within a Windows-based PC development environment without needing a cable headend or other live cable equipment.

The tru2way Reference Implementation can be downloaded under Gnu Public License (GPL) v2 open source license terms from the OpenCable Project, located here. Under the open source release model, developers will also be able to contribute back to the evolving software code and tool base. As an alternative to the open source licensing model, a parallel commercial license through CableLabs is also available.

One of the goals of OCAP, or tru2way, is “write once, deploy everywhere” for developers. The reference implementation was first announced in April (story here).

"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, Comcast’s senior vice president and chief software architect. “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,” he added.

Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have deployed several million tru2way set-top boxes in parts of their footprints, while Comcast has said it hopes to have 98 percent of its footprint OCAP-enabled by the end of this year.

Cox Communications said recently that it plans on having tru2way rolled out in part of its footprint by this summer.

The cable operators that have announced support for the tru2way platform on their networks are Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision, Charter Communications and Bright House, together representing more than 80 percent of all cable subscribers and 105 million homes passed.

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