Tag: meetup

Alfresco Berlin Meetup Agenda

On Friday, May 10, we’ll be having a half-day meetup in Berlin, Germany in conjunction with the Codemotion conference happening at the same time. Everyone is welcome to attend and there is no cost, even if you are not registered for the Codemotion conference. You can register for the meetup here. The agenda will be as follows:

15:00 to 15:15 Welcome (Jeff Potts, Alfresco)
15:15 to 15:45 Introducing the Alfresco API (Jeff Potts)
15:45 to 16:15 Group Discussion: How Are You Using Alfresco? (All)
16:15 to 16:45 SmartWCM (Florian Maul, fme)
16:45 to 17:00 BREAK
17:00 to 17:30 Enhanced Script Import Tooling (Axel Faust, Prodyna)
17:30 to 18:00 Alfresco Workdesk (Bernhard Werner, Alfresco)
18:00 to 18:15 Invitation to Join the Community (Jeff Potts)
18:15 to 19:00 Bratwurst, Beer, & Networking

If you would like to present a 30-minute customer case study on how your organization implemented Alfresco, please let me know.

Earlier in the day I’ll be giving a talk at Codemotion Berlin on CMIS and Apache Chemistry in Action. So, if you are at Codemotion and you want to learn how to use an industry standard API to manage content in ECM repositories like SharePoint, FileNet, and Alfresco, come to my talk.

I hope to see you there!

Alfresco announces new CEO

Unless one of your New Year’s resolutions was to engage in a complete media blackout, you’ve undoubtedly heard the news that John Powell, Alfresco co-founder and CEO, has replaced himself with Doug Dennerline. Here are some of the places the news was covered:

John Powell has made public statements about a future IPO previously, but this is more than a comment during a keynote, this is a serious step toward that milestone.

Most of the coverage has either been about Alfresco’s decision to come to the US for what it sees as a market better-suited to tech offerings or about Doug’s extensive Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) experience and what that means for Alfresco’s continued expansion into the cloud. I (perhaps mistakenly) always assumed Alfresco would go public in the US market. And, although Doug’s experience will definitely be a huge asset as we push further into the cloud, the idea that we see our future in the cloud isn’t a lightning bolt either. Instead, my biggest takeaway from the news is what a class act John Powell is. It takes a real leader to objectively stand back, take an assessment of what is needed to achieve a particular goal, and then execute on that, even if it means taking yourself out of the role (especially when the company is doing well).

I definitely admire what John has done for Alfresco and I’ve enjoyed working with him–luckily, he’ll be keeping his board seat, so no sloppy goodbye is necessary.

By the way, if you are going to be in the San Francisco Bay Area on January 30, the Bay Area Alfresco User Group is meeting that night and both Doug and I are planning on attending. You should come to the meetup, welcome Doug to the Alfresco community, and share your Alfresco story.


9 Things You Must Do to Have a Good Meetup

I spend a fair amount of time encouraging the formation of local community meetups around Alfresco and, when I can, attending many of these in all parts of the world. Alfresco meetups are especially fun because I get to meet people I’ve previously only known through the forums, IRC, or twitter.

I’ve started to identify characteristics of successful meetup groups. I thought I’d share them here and maybe others will add their ideas to the list.

Set an (interesting, relevant) agenda

Some meetups are staunchly anti-agenda. They exist because it is fun for people in the same or similar profession to get together to socialize. These have their place. For Alfresco meetups, however, I think it makes more sense to have a set agenda for each meeting. Sure, the agenda can have a “socializing” item on it, but I don’t think an Alfresco meetup that is based purely on socializing will last.

It’s also important that the agenda be interesting and relevant to your local community. I can’t tell you what that agenda is. You as a local community organizer should know. If you don’t, ask your attendees. Your attendees might be mostly technical. If so, you may have a code-filled agenda. Or, you might be completely non-technical so your agenda will be about end-user issues and solving business problems with Alfresco. I’ve been to some meetups that have a mix of both, so they start with a general interest topic and then split into technical and non-technical breakouts. The key is to know your group and what is going to work for them.

It shouldn’t be up to you to set the agenda for every meeting anyway. Make it a group effort. Or maybe rotate the responsibility.

Share responsibility

Speaking of that, find ways to get more people involved. A lot of these groups start out because one person is particularly passionate about a topic. That’s fine in the beginning, but look for ways to get others involved. It’s less work and it forms a stronger nucleus when others share the burden of the work that goes into consistently providing a quality meetup on a regular basis.

Provide food and drinks

It’s an easy win. A lot of times these meetings happen over lunch or dinner. Providing something to eat and drink helps people make the decision to come to your meetup when they are torn between their usual lunch spot and your meetup. Plus, pizza and beer are cheap crowd pleasers. Of course not everyone drinks beer so it’s a good idea to have something else on-hand, but you get the point.

In small groups, depending on the makeup, you might rotate refreshment duties. Or, try to get someone to sponsor your group and let them pick up the bill.

Foster connections

One of your roles as a community organizer is to act as a connector. You have a unique insight into each of your attendees’ motivation for attending the meetup so when you see two or more people that can help each other meet their goals make that introduction. The more connections you can make the more likely it is those people will return.

You might also consider setting up a channel for collaboration that can happen between meetings.

Publicize your meetup

Once you’ve set a time and a place for your meetup, you’ve got to get the word out. Many local Alfresco communities use meetup.com but there are alternatives. Regardless of where you host information about your meetup, make sure you are listed on the Local Communities wiki page.

If you are a partner and you are hosting or helping organize the meetup, contact your clients that are in the area and give them a personal invitation. You might even follow up on the day of the meetup to make sure they are coming.

If you let me know about your meetup I can help get the word out by inserting a blurb about it into Alfresco’s “Event Roundup” that goes out each month. I can also tweet about your meetup on my account and Alfresco’s.

I think sending out tweets a week prior, the day before, and the day of works pretty well.

Prohibit hard sales/recruiting pitches

If it turns out that your meetup is just an excuse to sell people your products or services, or people are descended upon by packs of rabid recruiters the minute they walk in the door, you’ll kill any chance you have of building something cool and long-term. No one wants to take time out of their personal schedule to hear a sales pitch. If you are a partner hosting the meetup, pay particular attention to this. People may walk in the door skeptical–you don’t want to confirm their fears with a hard sell.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t mention who donated the space or who paid for the sandwiches. If you want to keep getting free space and sandwiches you’ve got to do that. Just be cool about it. I think giving a sponsor two minutes to talk about what they do while everyone is grabbing a drink is reasonable.

As the meetup organizer it is your job to work with the rest of the group to establish ground rules about acceptable behavior and to swiftly (but professionally) deal with people who act outside the norms of your group.

Pick a central location

I live in Dallas, which isn’t just a city, it’s a “Metroplex”, which, roughly translated means, “No matter where you decide to have your meetup, someone’s going to drive an hour or more to get there.” That can make picking a meetup spot tough.

Especially when you are starting out, look at who’s coming and where they are coming from and try to pick a central location. You can try a different location for each meeting, but I’ve found that you will end up just getting a different set of attendees each time based on where the meeting is. There’s no easy answer. The best advice is to pick a central location, near main arteries and mass transit, make sure your start time comprehends traffic patterns at that time of the day, and make your agenda compelling enough that someone will want to make the journey.

Welcome everyone

It is important that everyone feel welcome at our meetups. This idea of inclusiveness is comprehensive. It covers everything from your relationship with Alfresco (Enterprise customer, Community user, partner, employee) to your demography (age, race, religion, sex, orientation). Everyone shares in the responsibility of fostering a welcoming atmosphere and raising the issue with the group its leaders if something is out-of-line.

Have fun!

Last, your meetup has got to be fun. We all sit in mind-numbing meetings as part of our day job. Why would we want to spend¬† personal time in yet another one? Part of this is about encouraging interactivity. Don’t just have presentation after presentation. Ask the attendees to share short stories about their projects or implementations. Maybe set a common goal to develop an add-on for the community and challenge another local community to do the same.

If you are organizing local community groups around Alfresco and you haven’t yet introduced yourself to me, please do so. I can also hook you into our community of community organizers, which we call Team LoCo (I stole the name from Jono Bacon). And, if you have additional thoughts on what makes a great meetup, please share them in the comments.

Worldwide Alfresco 4.0 Community Release Party

You have probably heard that Alfresco 4.0 (formerly known by its codename, “Swift”) will be officially released in the Community edition at the end of September. I’ve been playing with the latest Community code sitting in subversion and I have to tell you that, although there are still plenty of issues to resolve, I’m getting pretty excited about the release.

I know I’m not the only one that’s been looking at 4.0 with building anticipation toward an official release. So here’s what I think we should do. Let’s celebrate. This year, the week of October 10 shall be known as the Week of Worldwide Alfresco 4.0 Community Release Party Meetups! Wherever you are in the world, pick a day that week and get together with 1, 10, or 100 other people and share why you’re excited about 4.0. It doesn’t have to be formal and you don’t have to go to a lot of trouble. Grab Community 4.0 from the download page when it becomes available (or use one of the nightly builds or build it yourself), install it, and give a demo. Or just get a conversation going about favorite new features, when/how you plan to upgrade, or how you are using Alfresco today. Exactly what you talk about doesn’t really matter–the point is to celebrate this major release.

I’ve already spoken to several of the local community organizers around the world and they are totally into it. Madrid, Paris, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Jakarta, The Netherlands, and Southern California are all likely to have events going on the week of October 10 to celebrate. I believe Germany will be doing some virtual meetups online. To help you find these and others that will hopefully be inspired to spring up, refer to this wiki page that lists new or still-forming meetup groups. If you don’t see one there, go to Alfresco Meetups Everywhere and sign up. When another person in your area signs up you can organize a time and a place to meet.

I really want to see this happen. And I know the way to an Alfresco Geek’s heart is through his or her stomach. So if you promote your plan to have a meetup the week of October 10 via Twitter, and then you post pictures of the event on Flickr tagged with “Alfresco”, you can submit your food receipt to me and I’ll reimburse you up to $100. If you plan to take advantage of this you must register your interest with me two weeks prior to your meetup date so I can get you the details. Just shoot an email to jpotts at alfresco dot com with your plans.

I’ll also try to get a “What’s New in Alfresco 4.0” presentation posted, maybe with some screencasts as well, to help with the content.

There you go: A major release of the software to the community, free food, and starter content. The only key ingredients remaining are you, your laptop, and a friend or two. What do you say? Are you in?

Enjoyed the Atlanta Alfresco Meetup last week

Last week I joined about 15 other Alfresco fanatics for the Atlanta Alfresco Meetup. The attendees braved some seriously crappy weather to attend. We’re talking about trees falling on roads and power outages so I was pleasantly surprised it was more than just me and the guys who work in the building that showed up.

I gave a talk on my high-level plan for the Alfresco Community. Then, Dimy Jeannot of Armedia gave a project walkthrough based on some work they did with Alfresco Web Quick Start, the Web Editor Framework, Google Fusion Tables, and Salesforce.com. It was a good progression from business need to code. I think this particular meetup group is looking to get even more hands-on in the future–they’ve got a hack-a-thon style get together in the works.

Thanks to Dimy and Doug Bock for organizing the meetup and to Jim Nasr of Armedia for providing the location and snacks. I look forward to more great events from this group in the future.

This meetup was what I hope will be the start of several locally-driven Alfresco meetups happening around the world (see “Getting Involved with a Local Alfresco Community“). I know that the Boston, Washington, D.C., and Southern California groups are all planning on getting together soon. I’ll be at “Alfresco Day” in Madrid on June 22nd, which is an Alfresco-led event. I’m hoping to see (and attend) locally-driven Alfresco meetups in Spain and other parts of Europe later this year. South Africa is also planning an event that I’m really excited about.

If there’s not already a meetup in your corner of the world, put your name on the Alfresco Meetups Everywhere page and you can collaborate with others to get one started.

Getting involved with a local Alfresco community

Even though there are still two weeks to go in this year’s Alfresco Community Survey, I couldn’t help but start to review the 1200 or so responses we’ve received so far. There are some great insights and suggestions coming through, but there’s one I wanted to jump on right away: It’s clear that a significant portion of the Community would like to see more local, Alfresco-focused, non-marketing,¬† gatherings (aka, meetups). And I’m right there with you. I think it is extremely important that local groups of people interested in Alfresco are able to get together regularly to share tips and tricks, to network, and to have fun. In this post I want to outline my perspective on events, my plan for local meetups, and some ideas on how to get involved with a local Alfresco community.

Alfresco Community Meetups are different from other events

Alfresco drives many types of events worldwide, including presence at third-party conferences, lunch-and-learns, training, and webinars. We also do an annual developer’s conference called Alfresco DevCon. Last year DevCon was in New York and Paris. We’re starting to plan for this year’s DevCon. We’re still finalizing cities and dates and I’ll let you know when that happens.

The events I’ve listed so far are completely driven by Alfresco. But there are several groups around the world that get together and talk about Alfresco on their own. These are grassroots, locally-organized meetups. Some meet more regularly than others. Some are a handful of people getting together for an informal happy hour while others are large groups with formal agendas, name tags, and everything.

In addition to these locally-run meetups, in the past, Alfresco has conducted “Community Meetups” that were really more like mini-conferences that happened in multiple geographies. These were fun and informative events, but they can’t happen with the frequency and scale that locally-driven meetups can.

Going forward, I’d like you, the community, to drive local meetups. And I’d like to see these happening more frequently, in more parts of the globe, for technical and non-technical audiences regardless of the Alfresco product they use. I want more people to feel that sense of family that I feel when I walk into a room full of people who share the same hopes, joys, and frustrations with Alfresco.

Local Alfresco communities should be driven by the local community

In short, I don’t want Alfresco to own, control, or constrain local Alfresco communities in any way. Ideally, anywhere there are two or more people that care about Alfresco, a local meet-up would form and those people would get together fairly regularly and, hopefully, grow to include others over time.

Alfresco’s role is to foster and support these local communities. I think we can add value in the following ways:

  • Alfresco can serve as a “connector”, matching up groups of interested community members with people willing to organize the local community
  • Alfresco can supply presentation content and, in some cases, people to deliver it in-person
  • Alfresco can help promote your meetup and drive attendance
  • Alfresco can support communities with Alfresco-branded giveaways and other small incentives

What we lack is the hyper-local perspective into the topics the local community is most interested in, the ability to know all of the cool projects going on in your area, and the feet on the ground to make every meeting a success. That’s where you come in. Local community events shouldn’t be driven by Alfresco’s Marketing team–they should be driven by you, the community, and Alfresco will do everything we can to support you.

So, as part of this, I’ve been reaching out to various communities around the world. If they haven’t met in a while, I’m encouraging them to get together, even if it is an informal meet-and-greet. If it is a group that was just thinking about getting together, I’m asking them to take that first step. And, if it is a group that has been meeting a while, I’m asking what, if anything, you need from me to keep it going.

How can you get involved?

This wiki page is the master list of existing local communities we know about as well as communities that people are interested in forming. If you are participating in a local community or are interested in forming one and that’s not reflected on the list, please update the wiki page.

Take the first step

If you are lucky enough to live near an established community, sign up and attend. If there isn’t a meeting happening any time soon ask the innocent question, “Why isn’t there a meeting happening any time soon?”. Maybe you’ll be the spark that gets it going again.

If you want to organize a meetup, it’s pretty easy. Decide on a time and a place, then let everyone know about it. You can use sites like Meetup.com or Google Groups to facilitate sign-up and collaboration, but that’s not a requirement.

If there isn’t a meetup already organized near you and you’d like to find out if others are interested, go to http://www.meetup.com/Alfresco, search for your city, and add your name to the list.

Decide where to take it from here

That first meeting doesn’t have to be a big production. It isn’t much work to get together and talk about what you are doing with Alfresco. While you’re talking, you may want to:

  • Set a focus. Is the goal to network, to learn from others, or something more specific? For example, I have been talking to multiple communities about organizing Alfresco-focused hack-a-thons/code sprints that would have a goal of creating new or contributing to existing Alfresco community projects.
  • Decide how often you want to get together. Meet too often and you’ll burn out the group. Don’t meet often enough and your group will lose interest. Somewhere in the neighborhood of monthly or quarterly is probably best.
  • Decide on an agenda for future meetings (or whether to have an agenda at all). You might have an end-user focused group that discusses tips/tricks for using the product and walks through case studies. Or, you might have a more technical group that dives into the details of a different part of the platform each meeting.
  • Establish ground rules. Maybe for your group, the rules are there are no rules. Or maybe a couple of common sense ground rules would help. It depends on the focus you’ve set. For example, you might want to ban blatant sales pitches and recruiters.
  • Pick an organizer. Someone needs to be on point for reminding the group about upcoming meetings. If you’ve decided on a more formal sort of group, that person will also need to facilitate setting the agenda and find people to speak. I’d recommend rotating this responsibility every 3 to 6 months, but you can decide.

Keep me posted

If you get a meetup going I want to know about it so I can support your group in the ways I’ve outlined above. Who knows, maybe I’ll even show up in person at one of your meetings.

Join us for CMSGeekUpDFW on 2/24

Every month, a handful of us CMS Geeks from around Dallas-Ft. Worth get together to have a beer or two and talk about content management. This month’s meeting is on Thursday, February 24 at 7:00p. We’re going to be talking about Django, a highly-productive python-based web application framework. If you’re going to be in the area (our meeting spots bounce around–this one will be at Cohabitat in Uptown Dallas) you should join in the discussion. Please RSVP so we know you’re coming.

Drupal, Django, and Alfresco in Chicago

I’ll be in Chicago tomorrow for the Alfresco Meetup. I’ll be speaking during the Barcamp on Alfresco and Drupal integration with CMIS (module, screencast). I’ll also have the Alfresco-Django integration running on my laptop. I may not have time to show Alfresco-Django during my slot, but I’ll be happy to stick around and do informal demos and talk about either integration if you’re interested because I’d like your feedback on it.

Reminder: DFW Alfresco Meet-up is Monday

Don’t forget to sign-up for the first ever DFW Alfresco Meet-up. It’s happening Monday, 3/9 at Ackerman McQueen over in Las Colinas. Plan to arrive around 5:30 and we’ll start our first topic at 6:00. We’ll hear about Ackerman McQueen’s recent Alfresco WCM-based project as well as the portal implementation built on Alfresco DM and Django (a Python-based framework) from the folks over at Neiman Marcus.

We’re letting Optaros pick up the tab on food and drinks so if you’re doing an Alfresco project right now or considering it, you need to join us. Come share what you’ve learned with others and maybe leave with a few new ideas as well.

Address and directions are on the sign-up page.