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Developing open-source software for FTC teams as a community

Is OpenRC legal to use in competition?

In a word, no. However, there is more to the story. OpenRC’s build speed improvements and added features are mostly useful when you’re developing your OpModes at team meetings. It’s not actually even that useful when you’re at a competition.

Our solution

While OpenRC was originally legal for competition use, we recognized that the GDC has the power to change that, and developed a feature called stock mode that lets you build a competition-legal version of the app from within your OpenRC Android Studio project. You can read its documentation here.

Stock mode is possible because of the exact wording of the ruling, specifically, this sentence:

“An unauthorized version of the FTC SDK includes any version of the SDK that modifies or omits any of the libraries included within the Robot Controller app.”

In software development, the term “library” is used for software that your program uses, but that is not developed as a part of your program. Libraries are maintained separately, often by a third party.

What this means for the FTC Robot Controller app is that you’re free to modify any code that’s provided only in the form of its source code. This would include the TeamCode module (obviously), the FtcRobotController module, and all of the Gradle files that tell Android Studio how everything goes together.

What’s not legal to modify is everything in the libs folder. This includes all of the .aar and .jar files that we used to make many of the modules in OpenRC. This is what makes the regular OpenRC mode illegal.

The stock mode builds the app from the unmodified .aar files in the libs folder directly, ignoring the project modules that are based on them. Even though it’s not technically required, we also disable all of our modifications to the FtcRobotController module when stock mode is enabled. The result is an app that’s fully legal for competition use.