The Joomla! Community Portal ™

Fri

20

Nov

2009

Investing in Joomla! Development
Written by Elin Waring   
Friday, 20 November 2009 13:54

With more than 13.8 million downloads, hundreds of thousands of users, and millions of Web sites worldwide Joomla! is the world's most popular open source content management system.  With this immense growth has come great challenges and great opportunities to address them.

Some of you may have guessed already that there is something different and exciting in the air particularly around Joomla! 1.6. About eight weeks ago OSM decided to conduct an experiment. Joomla! has been lucky to have key contributors to the project remain for the long haul, and thanks to a targeted fundraising effort we found sponsorships to pay Louis Landry and Andrew Eddie to each spend 1 to 2 days a week working on Joomla! development. So far we're extremely happy with the results.

Andrew and Louis' assignments are specific.The impact of Andrew having large blocks of time on an ongoing basis has been highly visible to people who follow development. We've seen fast movement on highly complex challenges in the ACL and other critical infrastructure pieces while he's wide awake. In the case of Louis, in addition to writing code, he's been doing important work in reconstructing the development infrastructure (which will be debuting soon) as well as working with the release team, development coordination and being available for consultation with people working on code.

Louis and Andrew have been providing immense energy to the creation of Joomla 1.6. In short, we think our experiment of investing in two of the project's most senior developers and architects has provided handsome returns for our community in just the past two months.

The decision to try this followed long discussion within the OSM board and the Community Oversight Committee. As part of this, we agreed that we needed to do systematic assessment of its impact. Assessing the experiment thus far, two themes emerged:  we're seeing faster and higher quality outputs and a more relaxed and energized development team. Ole Ottosen sums up the results so far: "We have seen some great level of activity on 1.6 from them, and maybe more important, some relaxed people that send out good vibes of enjoying it more."  In a recent review, both Louis and Andrew expressed how happy they are to be able to do this work. "I'm loving it" is how Andrew summarized it.

The experiment was started with just the involvement of the leadership teams so that we could work out implementation details and focus, in particular, on what the impact on the functioning of the Production Leadership Team would be. 

To date, we are pleased with the progress of the experiment and will continue to monitor its over the coming months. Having done this groundwork we are now ready to move to the next phase and look at the important question of the impact this has on development processes and the functioning of the broader production working group. We'll do assessment of this starting in about 8 weeks (mid January 2010). At the same time we will continue to monitor 1.6 development and the responses of the leadership teams.

In doing this, OSM is making a strategic investment to make Andrew and Louis's time available to Joomla!.  Andrew and Louis were both able to commit the time on fairly short notice and were excited about the opportunity to take on this work. They both care passionately about the Joomla! Project, and they are thrilled to be able to work on it at times other than nights and weekends.

We've been fortunate to have these two key developers in our project volunteer so much time and energy for such a long period of time.  Based on our community's ecology, and the terrific growth of our third party developer community, OSM is pleased to begin taking this important step forward for the community. This step puts Joomla! in line with most, if not all, mature large open source projects in having key developers compensated for their work (whatever the mechanisms).

This is strictly a contractual arrangement between OSM and Louis and Andrew. The intent is that it have no impact on relationships within the Production Leadership Team or between the Production Leadership Team and members of the Production Working Group. The development coordinators are the development coordinators, they have certain responsibilities and authority as such, and they still have them.

Andrew is a committer and member of the Production Working Group. He still is and will continue to work under the direction of the development coordinators. Louis is a development coordinator and he'll continue to work in the same way that he has with the other coordinators. In recent debriefings the development coordinators indicated across the board that they are happy with how the experiment is going.

The vision of the Joomla! Project (as expressed in its Mission, Vision and Values) is to both produce great software and to continue as an independent and community driven project, and this initiative is one way that OSM is supporting both of these goals.

We welcome financial support for this initiative and will be posting more about sponsorship opportunities in the coming weeks. In the meantime if you are interested in sponsorsing please feel free to email sponsors@opensourcematters.org.

We're excited with what's happening in the project. The growth, the community engagement, the events, the opening up of development and most of all the great progress in building "a flexible platform for digital publishing and collaboration." It's wonderful to see the Joomla! Project maturing and for OSM to be able to provide the resources to assure long term stability and continued growth.