Category: Alfresco Community

I’m leaving Alfresco, remaining part of the community

After much contemplation about what’s best for the Alfresco community, the company, and my own happiness, I’ve decided to leave the company. My last day as Chief Community Officer will be Friday, June 6.

With all of the changes the company has seen over the last year or so I know there are some who will suspect that something nefarious is underfoot. I want to be really clear about this: It was my decision to leave, I’m excited about this change, and I hope you’ll be excited for me too.

If it’s all good, why leave?

Ultimately,  I’m leaving because I miss delivering content-centric solutions to clients. When I took the position three years ago, I thought that the part of my role that requires me to help flatten the learning curve for people would satisfy my creative and technical itch. It did partially, but it wasn’t enough.

Of course, there have been changes I haven’t always agreed with–until you are your own boss that will always be true. But the primary reason I’m leaving is because I need to be building stuff again.

What does this mean for the Alfresco Community?

The company remains committed to the Alfresco community and there are no major changes planned that I am aware of. I know whomever takes over my responsibilities will continue with the important work as beekeeper.

I intend to continue making contributions to the community just as I did before I joined the company. In fact, having me back in the field means more real world implementations to draw on that I can write about, speak about, and share with others.

My personal mission to take down legacy ECM with open source hasn’t changed. I think many of you are aligned with me on that mission, and this move allows us to continue the fight side-by-side.

What does this mean for Alfresco Summit?

I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish with the annual DevCon/Alfresco Summit conference. It was fun growing that so much year-over-year while maintaining the integrity and feel of the event. But I’m no event planner. And the bigger it grew the more time it required. Last year we actually made the decision to take if off my hands. I’ve been helping with programming content for Alfresco Summit 2014 but 2013 was the last one I was primarily responsible for, which makes the transition pretty seamless. (This year’s conference promises to be better than ever, and you should totally sign up if you haven’t done that yet).

What’s next?

For these next two weeks, I’m completely focused on getting everything transitioned smoothly. I’ll share more about what’s next for me after June 6, but I’m sure it will be surprising to absolutely no one.

Until then, please know that I have truly enjoyed my time serving as the leader of this wonderful community. I know there is work left to do but, man, we got so much done!

Perhaps more importantly, I have established what I hope will be life-long friendships, both in the community and inside the company, with people all over the world. The best thing about this change is that I know those will continue, regardless.

Nominate an Alfresco community star

Every year I select a handful of “community stars”. These are people who have gone above-and-beyond during the previous year in the Alfresco community. Community stars get a free conference pass to Alfresco Summit and bragging rights for the coming year.

To select community stars the community team and I look at things like:

  • Forum, IRC, and Stackoverflow helpfulness
  • Significant contributions to the product in terms of bug reports, fixes, or other code or documentation contributions
  • Meetup activity
  • Evangelism in social channels
  • Authors of particularly helpful books, blog posts, wiki pages, screencasts, tutorials, or add-ons

The community team has some visibility into the people making a consistent difference in these areas, but we can’t be everywhere all of the time. Every year it is inevitable that we miss one or two deserving individuals.

So I need your help.

If you know of someone who deserves to go to Alfresco Summit for their work in the community, please submit this form. I need their name, contact info, and why you think they should be identified as an Alfresco community star. It should take you less than 5 minutes.

Thanks ahead of time for helping me give our community stars the recognition they deserve!

Alfresco freenode IRC chat room transcripts now logged, searchable

I told you about the #alfresco chatroom on IRC a couple of years ago when Richard Esplin and I took it over and started promoting its use. Since then it has grown tremendously with somewhere between 30 and 40 people hanging out and discussing various Alfresco-related (and some unrelated) topics.

Richard recently rolled out some new features that I hope will help keep the momentum going.

First, the chatroom is now logged. The last 90 days of messages are available at chat.alfresco.com. That page also includes an embedded web chat client for people who don’t have their own desktop client or for quick questions.

Second, there’s a new member of the chatroom named alfbot. The bot’s primary purpose is to facilitate logging, but it gives us some additional functionality which is pretty handy. Here are a few examples:

  • If you want your message to be excluded from the log you can start your message with [nolog]. Your handle will appear in the log but your message will be redacted.
  • If you need to tell someone something but they aren’t currently logged in, you can say “alfbot later tell jpotts You finally decided to log in, eh?”. Then, when alfbot sees jpotts log in your message will be added to the chat.
  • If you want to know when the last time someone was in the chat room you can say, “alfbot seen resplin” and that would tell you when Richard was last on.
  • If you want to tell alfbot something and you don’t want to type “alfbot” at the start of your message, you can use a tilde as an alias, like this: “~later tell jpotts You finally decided to log in, eh?”.

People that hang out in #alfresco frequently will want their own desktop IRC client. There are many available. On Linux, I’ve used Pidgin and liked it. On my Mac I use Adium. On Windows there is HexChat, which I haven’t used.

Regardless of which client you use, just point it to irc.freenode.net, then join us in #alfresco.

Thanks to Richard and the IT team for getting this in place and to Ian Crew for making the pages on chat.alfresco.com look pretty.

Alfresco Tech Talk Live Re-Cap: Content hashes, cloud dashlets, & MongoDB

If you didn’t catch Alfresco Tech Talk Live today you missed one heck of a session. We had a motley crew of panelists showing off their creations from November’s Alfresco Summit Hack-a-Thon. Here’s the recording:

Three of the hack-a-thon teams gave demos. We heard from:

  • Axel Faust (Prodyna) and Martin Cosgrave. They showed us a solution they created for a hash-based content store. Content is given a hash as it is added to the repository, then if subsequent content is added, it simply points to that file on disk rather than duplicating it. They also used a hash to create a cache for Alfresco Share. Axel and Martin’s project is hosted on GitHub.
  • Will Abson (Alfresco) showed us a couple of cool things. One was an integration between on-premise Alfresco Share and Alfresco in the cloud. It included, a dashlet like My Sites that lists your sites on Alfresco in the Cloud as well as a search modification that allows you to do a single search against on-premise and Alfresco in the cloud. The project is on GitHub. He also showed an admin console add-on called the Alfresco Cloud API Explorer that lets you run HTTP GETs against the public Alfresco API.
  • Derek Hulley (Alfresco) showed a proof-of-concept he’s been working on. His POC is aimed at replacing the relational back-end that Alfresco uses to store metadata with MongoDB. It isn’t complete yet, but he was able to show that you could add aspects to a node and those aspects and property values were persisted in MongoDB.Derek’s project is on GitHub.

Nathan McMinn (Alfresco), Richard McKnight (Alfresco), Ben Kahn (Red Hat), and Alexey Ermakov (VIDEL) were also on our panel and participated in the discussion but we ran out of time for their demos. We’ll circle back with them another time.

We also have three brief announcements:

Thanks to all panelists and viewers who participated!

Notes from last week’s office hours

UPDATE: Corrected the Alfresco Summit dates which have changed since this was posted

In case you missed last week’s live Alfresco office hours, here is the re-play:

And here are my notes from the session…

Follow-up items from last office hours

Worldwide, Virtual Hack-a-thon is happening May 9

  • Sign up on the wiki
  • Alfresco team members in all three regions will participate
  • 24 hours

Sign-up for the Alfresco quarterly community newsletter. The next one should be coming out in March.

The new Alfresco Community Landing Page should be live on www.alfresco.com by the end of this week.

IRC improvements

  • Join the live conversation at #alfresco on freenode IRC
  • The chat room is now logged
  • We’ll move the logs to an Alfresco server and domain at some point

Kicking off the Alfresco Community Profile project

  • At a minimum, will provide the ability to use the same credentials for all Alfresco community properties
  • Vision is to use it as each community member’s “face” to the rest of the community

Community translations going strong

  • Get started by reading this wiki page
  • Work on a community-contributed language pack at CrowdIn
  • File patches for officially supported language packs in Jira

The last of the ECM Architect tutorials that still needs a revision (Advanced Workflows) is almost done

  • Tutorials now use Alfresco Maven SDK
  • Tutorials now produce AMPs instead of using the overlay approach
  • All references to old technologies such as Alfresco Explorer, the native Alfresco Web Services API, and jBPM have been removed.
  • Tutorial text and source code are on GitHub

Alfresco Summit Save-the-Date:

  • Two months earlier
  • EMEA: 9/9, 9/10, 9/11 in London Alfresco Summit EMEA
    October 7, 8, & 9 (T, W, R) in London
  • Americas: 9/23, 9/24, 9/25 in San FranciscoAlfresco Summit Americas
    September 22, 23, & 24 (M, T, W) in San Francisco
  • Shorter: Two days (plus the optional workshop day), otherwise roughly the same format
  • Call for papers coming soon

The next Alfresco Office Hours will be March 21. The next Tech Talk Live is March 5. We’ll be reviewing several projects that were created as a result of the Alfresco Summit Hack-a-Thon back in November.

My takeaways from the Alfresco Summit keynotes

This year we tried something new at Alfresco Summit. Rather than have all of our keynotes delivered by Alfrescans we invited some external speakers to both Barcelona and Boston.

Day 1: Big ideas, big opportunities–Doug Dennerline, Jimmy Wales, Andrew McAfee, & John Newton

In both cities we opened the conference with our new CEO, Doug Dennerline. This was Doug’s first annual conference since joining Alfresco, so it was a great opportunity for him to introduce himself to the community and talk about the tremendous opportunity he sees in front of us.

Then, in Barcelona we had Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikimedia Foundation. Jimmy spoke of the phenomenal growth of Wikipedia, particularly in emerging countries and in various languages. He talked about an initiative called Wikipedia Zero, which seeks to provide free access to Wikipedia over cell phone networks. He showed a never-before seen video of school children in South Africa who wrote an open letter to carriers to explain how much Wikipedia helps them with their studies and how much free access would mean to their community. That video totally got to me–I’m such a softy.

One of the things that stuck with me from Jimmy’s talk is that we should be asking what our community needs to get done and then help them make that happen rather than constantly asking what our community can do for us. It’s tough to do because our community is so diverse but this might be a useful guiding principle in the coming year.

In Boston the first day keynote was Andrew McAfee. Andrew is Principle Research Scientist for Digital Business at the Sloan School of Management. You may know him as the guy who coined the term “Enterprise 2.0”. His talk was about the unbelievable growth of content in our lives and businesses–“Content is growing faster than our ability to find words to describe it,” he said.

He talked about the importance of following the data rather than always deferring to the HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person in the Organization). He spoke of various studies that showed how areas once ruled by pundits (politics, wine, real estate) are now more accurately forecast using big data techniques.

There were all kinds of amazing stats Andy shared with us that morning. The one most shocking to me was that 500 million searches every day are completely new to Google (here is an article where that is referenced). Apparently 15% of Google searches have been new to Google for each of the last 15 years. Wrap your head around that!

We monitor all kinds of stats related to the Alfresco community. Each quarter we pick a few and see if we can make improvements in those numbers. Andy’s talk was a reminder to me that we need to pay attention to what the community is trying to tell us through data.

That evening John Newton, Alfresco co-founder and CTO, provided a Back to the Future themed keynote focusing on the future of work. John pointed out how unimaginable the work environment of today was ten years ago and asked for all of us to try to predict what work might be like ten years from now. If you have ideas, he’d love you to tweet them with the hashtag “#Work2023”. John’s slides are here. We’ll post the video soon.

Day 2: The Inevitability of Change. Simon Wardley and Dries Buytaert

Day two brought a new set of speakers. In Barcelona we kicked off with Simon Wardley, researcher at the CSC Leading Edge Forum. His talk covered a lot of ground. It was about the best way to think strategically about your organization (find the “why”, not just the “what”) and the inevitability of change and the incredible phases of discovery and innovation that follow major shifts in technology.

He compared cloud, which is simply the shift in computing from product to commodity, to the mass commoditization of electricity. He expects a period of unfathomable new products and services that will be achievable thanks to the cloud much in the same way radio, television, and other major innovations appeared after electricity was commoditized.

I agree with Simon that cloud is not an if but when. Even organizations that say there is no way they will ever put certain data in the cloud will ultimately shift to that style of computing. It will take time–probably less time than any of us think–but it will happen. Until then, Alfresco thinks that 20% of your content will stay on-premise, 20% will move to the cloud, and 60% will be in or moving between both.

Simon’s talk got me thinking about how our community will change over time. On-premise is still a huge part of our business and will be for some time, but SaaS is definitely the direction we’re headed. That will certainly change the make-up, goals, and tactics of the Alfresco community. It’s important for people to know, though, that our values around openness and transparency are fundamental to who we are. We may evolve our products and services, but you should continue to hold us to those values.

In Boston we kicked off day two with a keynote from Drupal creator and Acquia founder, Dries Buytaert. Dries talked about the evolution of content management. He took us from those humble beginnings in his Antwerp dorm room to today where Drupal runs 5% of all web sites and one-size-fits-all approaches are being abandoned in favor of best-of-breed, often incorporating open source software like Drupal and Alfresco.

I loved the “Do Well, Do Good” slide in Dries’ talk because it speaks to a reason why I like working in commercial open source. We can do well as a company–grow the business, earn profits for our stakeholders–but we can also do good for our fellow humans. Software like Drupal and Alfresco are helping all kinds of people fulfill their missions despite their lack of budget. We spend a lot of time worrying about the people who have huge budgets who aren’t paying us and we forget about the tremendous good we do for those who can’t.

Directly relevant? Maybe not always. Inspiring? I hope so!

It’s tough picking keynote speakers. Regarding the exact same speaker I had some people who asked, “Was that talk really relevant to what we do?” and others who exclaimed, “Wow, that was spot-on!”. It’s sort of like art–the perceived relevancy is totally in the beholder. I found elements from all four talks that were relevant to me–the themes played right into my community keynote on day 3–I wish I could say that was totally planned.

The goal wasn’t to have industry visionaries talk to us about our own products or even our own market. The goal was to have someone inspiring give a talk that opened your mind to new possibilities. That’s the best frame of mind you could be in when you go to a conference like Alfresco Summit, I think.

Alfresco Community Edition 4.2.e Now Available

Alfresco Community LogoThe Alfresco engineering team has just released Alfresco Community Edition 4.2.e (Download, Release Notes). This is the final Community Edition release in the 4.2 line before 4.2 Enterprise is released.

This Community Edition release is mainly fixes for bugs found since 4.2.d and contains no new major features.

In a recent press release, we announced that Alfresco One 4.2 as well as the much-anticipated Records Management 2.1 release will be available on October 29. However, on the 4.2.e file list page on the wiki I notice that there is an RM 2.1 module available for download.

If you need the source, the public SVN revision number for Alfresco Community 4.2.e is 56674 and it has been tagged as COMMUNITYTAGS/V4.2e.

Reminder: Sign Up for Alfresco Summit Hack-a-Thon

Don’t forget, folks. If you DevCon 2012 San Jose Hack-a-Thonare planning on arriving in time for Day 0 of Alfresco Summit in either Barcelona (Nov 4) or Boston (Nov 12) so that you can participate in the hack-a-thon, you need to let us know so we can plan for food. Space is limited, so people who sign-up ahead of time using of these forms will be given priority (Barcelona, Boston).

 

Notes from Alfresco Office Hours

Today we had another Live Alfresco Office Hours session on Google Hangouts on Air. If you missed it, here is the recording. Below that I’ve got rough notes on what was discussed.

What’s new in Alfresco 4.2.d Community Edition

  • New Share look-and-feel, including ribbon
  • My Files
  • Shared Files
  • Document library enhancements (Filmstrip view, Table view)
  • Saved search
  • Folder Templates in Share (Yes, rules come across)
  • Manage permissions
  • Admin console
  • User Trashcan

Did you know you can do a proximity search? Allows you to search for words within a specified proximity of one other. Examples: big *(2) apple finds results where those two words are within two words of each other.

Did you know you can index inside of zips? There is a setting that must be changed in order to enable this.

Did you know you can use the “ALL” keyword to search all metadata instead of the default fields that are normally indexed? Example: ALL:SomeCo finds any document with “SomeCo” in any property. (Thanks, Peter Lofgren, who contributed that tidbit via IRC during the session).

Nightly build now includes PT and Norwegian language packs, both community contributions.

Question from IRC: Alfresco and NoSQL–Any plans to support NoSQL as a back-end for metadata?

  • The Big Data Server is still on the roadmap
  • Lots of people publish content out of Alfresco to a NoSQL target
  • Other than that, no plans

Alfresco Summit – Don’t miss out, register at http://summit.alfresco.com

Alfresco community survey

REMINDER: Alfresco Forge will be turned off completely in December. Add-Ons that point to Forge will be deleted on December 1.

Next Tech Talk Live is October 2. We’ll be talking to Dave Draper about Share customizations in 4.2

Recent meetups:

  • New York, September 24.
  • Chicago, September 25.

Upcoming meetups:

  • Seville, October 8.
  • Madrid, October 18
  • Leuven, Friday December 13.
  • Helsinki, TBD

Thanks to everyone who joined us live or watched the recording. We’ll do it again in two weeks.

 

Help us improve the ecosystem: Take the Alfresco Community 2013 Survey

Surveying by IamNotUniqueHopefully, you find the Alfresco community team and our company in general extremely approachable. My perception is that people aren’t afraid to reach out and give us feedback directly, which is exactly how we like it. But I think it is important for us to stop and ask for specific feedback on areas we are tracking on a regular basis. That’s why we do a survey of the Alfresco community every year.

So if you are involved at all with Alfresco, whether you are an Alfresco One subscriber, a partner, an employee, or a Community Edition user, please take 15 minutes to complete the survey.

We’ll use your feedback to make the Alfresco ecosystem a better place. If you’ve participated in the past, I hope you’ve seen some of your suggestions become a reality as we continuously improve over time. I’m hoping to consolidate the feedback and report on the results during my session at this year’s Alfresco Summit.

As a small way to say thanks for your time, we’re going to randomly draw two prize winners from valid, completed surveys. Each lucky winner will receive a $250 USD gift card from Amazon (see survey for contest rules and details).