Tag: Alfresco Community

Alfresco forums refresh on its way

I want to give you a short heads-up on a change coming to the Alfresco Forums. In short, we are migrating the Alfresco Forums to a new platform. This is part of a larger initiative aimed at reducing the number of accounts required to engage with the Alfresco community, making it easier to fight spam and moderate the forums, and put us on a platform that will enable us to make the entire community experience better going forward.

Jeremy French is the developer leading up this effort, and he’s recently created a screencast that shows some of the new features:

If you watched the screencast, you may have noticed that we are consolidating our local language forums into one platform. This means that if you are participating in both the German forum and the English forum, for example, you won’t need multiple accounts and you won’t have to switch between the two systems. If you want to see forum posts written in German, change the language dropdown to German. French? Change the dropdown to French.

The new forums will have the same functionality you are used to, plus:

  • A new look-and-feel that matches the current alfresco.com theme.
  • A “folksonomy” of tags to help authors add additional context to their posts.
  • The ability to select a specific Alfresco version to associate with a topic.
  • Richer subscription options for both email notifications and feeds.
  • Gravatar integration.
  • Richer and more visible leaderboards.

The migration is about one month away. When we migrate, we will make sure that all of the data in the current forums comes across, including user accounts. As you saw in the screencast, URLs that point to threads in the existing forum will continue to work after the migration.

Immediately after go-live I think we’ll have a much improved forum system. But the whole reason we are going to the trouble is so that we can enhance it further with feedback from the community. So please do let us know if you have ideas we should consider for the backlog.

If you are coming to DevCon Berlin or San Jose and you want to play with the test forums, come find me or Richard Esplin and we’ll give you a peek.

Screencasts of my favorite Alfresco 4.2 Community Edition features

I wrote up a list of some of my favorite new features in Alfresco 4.2 Community Edition in this blog post over at socialcontent.com. But I saved the best stuff for you, my loyal ecmarchitect.com reader: Screencasts showing those favorite features in action! Don’t worry, these are short and to the point. Hopefully just enough of a taste of each feature to get you to download Alfresco 4.2 Community Edition and try it out for yourself.

So without further ado, here are screencasts of my favorite new features in 4.2 Community (be sure to switch to full screen to enjoy their HD splendor)…

The new and improved Google Docs integration is very cool. I have a feeling this is going to be popular.

And how about that new Rich Media Gallery view in the document library? This is just one of multiple new document library views coming down the pike if I’m not mistaken. You can use the same extension points Ray used to create your own custom document library views.

There are a few new dashlets (Saved Search, Site Search, My Discussions) and some enhancements to existing dashlets (Image Preview, My Tasks).

Here’s one I’ve heard requested multiple times: Can I select multiple documents and download them as a zip? Boom. It’s in there. Another new document action is “Quick Share” which Alfresco in the Cloud users have been enjoying for some time. Now it’s available on-premise.

All of these screencasts were based on an October 8 nightly build using the binary installer. There may be some differences between what is shown here and what is in the final release.

So there you go folks. Download the new Community Edition release, try it out, and give us your feedback. I believe the plan is to have at least one more Community Edition release before DevCon. So you should definitely make it a point to try it out before you show up in Berlin or San Jose in November. That way you can slap these Engineers on the back for all of the great work they’ve put into this release!

Alfresco News Recap: DevCon, Survey, Dashlets, & a Forums Milestone

The news in the Alfresco world is happening faster than my sluggish blogging pace can keep up with, so I am forced to write a “recap” style post to keep you informed. It won’t win a Peabody, but at least you’ll be in the know…

Alfresco DevCon Registration Goes Live

Alfresco DevCon registration has been live for a little over a week. This year, we have a cool site just for DevCon that includes the full agenda, travel info, speaker bios, and a sponsor listing. Early-bird registration ends September 10 for both Berlin and San Jose. We’re on a pretty good pace right now with registrations so I would not wait around to secure your spot.

Alfresco Community Survey

The survey ended a couple of months ago. Honestly, we had a disappointing response rate compared to last year. Still, there was some good feedback provided. I’m responding to many of you to get you to elaborate further on your suggestions or to respond to specific questions. I’m about halfway through my follow-up list. Last year, I published the survey results and I’ll do that again this year before too long.

Alfresco Dashlet Challenge

The Alfresco Dashlet Challenge has just kicked off. This is a developer-focused contest in which people try to see who can create the coolest Add-Ons for Alfresco Share. You could win one of three Android tablets and a free DevCon pass if you can edge out the stiff competition. My blog post on socialcontent.com talks about some of last year’s submissions and includes a link to the full terms and conditions. My fellow American citizens were a big no-show in last year’s Dashlet Challenge, so I’m hoping to see that corrected this year!

Mark Rogers Makes His 4,000th Post

If you’ve spent any time in the Alfresco Forums, odds are you’ve come across Mark. He’s been a dedicated soul, working tirelessly to answer questions on just about every topic imaginable, since 2008. He’s routinely in the top 1 or 2 users in terms of volume in any given month. What’s great about Mark, though, is not just that he’s prolific–he’s also helpful. The guy has racked up 287 points, which is second only to Mike Hatfield. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of Mark’s. Well, last month, Mark made his 4000th post in the Alfresco Forums. 4000 posts! Just to give you some perspective, that’s about 1.5 times higher than the person with the 3rd highest number of posts (Kevin Roast). Of course everyone who spends significant amount of time in the forums on their own time deserves kudos, but when you see Mark at DevCon (or run into him in the forums) please congratulate him on this milestone.

While I’m on the topic of forums, we did pretty good on cutting down on unanswered posts in February, March, and April. Those months had some of the lowest number of unanswered topics as a percentage of topics created. But now we’re creeping back up to our old numbers. If you get a chance, maybe you could spend an extra 30 minutes in the forums this week. If everyone did an extra post a week (which is about 1/30th of Mark’s pace!) it would really help out.

Take the 2012 Alfresco Community Survey and Win $250

It’s that time again, folks. Time to see how we did over the past year and what corrections we need to make in the year ahead to keep the Alfresco community on track.

Whether you are an Enterprise subscriber or someone who works with Community Edition, I need as many people in the ecosystem as possible to take the survey.

Why bother? Because we care what you have to say. Seriously. Many of the things we’ve done in the community over the past year have been a direct result of this survey. You told us, we listened, we executed. Now it is time to find out how effective that execution was and to see what we need to do for the coming year.

So please do take 15 minutes to tell us how we’re doing. And if the “help us help you” reason isn’t enough, two lucky winners will walk away with $250 Amazon Gift Certificates.

You have until June 15 to take the survey.

Thanks ahead of time for your feedback and good luck!

Thoughts on the Alfresco forums

Back in 2009 I wrote a post called, “The Alfresco forums need your help.” It was about how I happened to come across the “unanswered posts” page in the Alfresco forums and noticed, to my horror, that it was 40 pages long. I later realized that the site is configured to show no more than 40 pages so it was likely longer.

Now that I’m on the inside I’ve got access to the data. As it turns out, as of earlier this month, in the English forums we had a little over 1100 topics created over the past year that never got a reply. That represents about 27% of all topics created for that period.

Last year I ran a Community Survey that reported that 55% of people have received responses that were somewhat helpful, exactly what they were looking for, or exceeding expectations. A little over 10% received a response that wasn’t helpful. About 34% said they never saw a response. If you look at the actual numbers for the year leading up to the survey, there were about 1500 topics created that never got a reply, which is again about 28% of all topics created for the same period.

That day in 2009 I suggested we start doing “Forum Fridays” to encourage everyone to spend a little time, once a week, helping out in the forums. I kept it up for a while. The important thing for me was that even if I didn’t check in every Friday, I did form a more regular forum habit. It felt good to see my “points” start to climb (you can see everyone’s points on the member list) and I started to feel guilty when I went too long without checking in.

Since joining Alfresco I’ve been in the forums more regularly. In fact, this month, I decided to make February a month for focusing on forums. I spent a significant amount of time in the forums each day with a goal of making a dent in unanswered posts. I also wanted to see if I could understand why posts go unanswered.

Some topics I came across were unanswered because they were poorly-worded, vague, or otherwise indecipherable. I’d say 5% fit this category. More often were the questions that were either going to require significant time reproducing and debugging or were in highly-specialized or niche areas of the platform that just don’t see a lot of use. I’d say 20% fit this category. These are questions that maybe only a handful of people know the answer to. But at least 50% or maybe more were questions a person with even a year or two of experience could answer in 15 minutes or less.

Alfresco is lucky. Our Engineering team spends significant time in the forums. The top posters of all time–Mike Hatfield, Mark Rogers, Kevin Roast, Gavin Cornwell, Andy Hind, David Caruana, Derek Hulley–are the guys that built the platform. Somehow they manage to do that and consistently put up impressive forum numbers. We also have non-Alfrescans that spend a lot of time in the forums racking up significant points. Users such as zaizi, Loftux, OpenPj, savic.prvoslav, and jpfi, just to name a few, are totally crushing it. It isn’t fair or reasonable for me to ask either of these groups to simply spend more time in the forums. And, while I have sincerely enjoyed Focus on Forums February, I’m not a scalable solution. Instead, I’d like to mobilize the rest of you to help.

I think if we put our minds to it, we should be able to address every unanswered post:

  • Questions that are essentially “bad questions” need a reply with friendly suggestions on how to ask a better question.
  • Time-consuming questions need at least an initial reply that suggests where on docs.alfresco.com, the wiki, other forum posts, or blogs the person might look to learn more, or even a reply that just says, “What you’re asking can’t easily be answered in a reasonable amount of time because…”. People new to our platform don’t know what is a big deal and what isn’t, so let’s explain it.
  • Highly-specialized or niche questions should be assigned to someone for follow-up. If you read a question and your first thought is, “Great question, I have absolutely no idea,” your next thought should be, “Who do I know that would?”. Rather than answering the question your job becomes finding the person that does know the answer. Shoot them a link to the thread via email or twitter or IRC. Some commercial open source companies I’ve spoken to about this topic actually assign unanswered posts to Jira tickets. That’s food for thought.
  • Relatively easy questions have to be answered. Our volume is manageable. We tend to get about 400 new topics each month with 100 remaining unanswered, on average. With a company of our size, with a partner network as big as we have, with as many community members as there are in this world, I see no good reason for questions of easy to medium difficulty to go without a reply.

So here are some ideas I’ve had to improve the unanswered posts problem:

  • Push to get additional Alfrescans involved in the forums, including departments other than Engineering.
  • Continue to encourage our top posters and points-earners to keep doing what they are doing.
  • Identify community members to become moderators. Task moderators with ownership of the unanswered post problem for the forums they moderate. This doesn’t mean they have to answer every question–but it does mean if they see a post that is going unanswered they should own finding someone who can.
  • Continue to refine and enhance forums reporting. I can post whatever forums metrics and measures would help you, the community, identify areas that need the most help or that motivate you to level up your forums involvement. Just let me know what those are.

What are your thoughts on these ideas? What am I missing? Please give me your ideas in the comments.

By the way, while I’m on the subject, I want to congratulate and thank the Top 10 Forum Users by Number of Posts for January of this year:

1. mrogers* 74
2. amandaluniz_z 36
3. MikeH* 30
4. jpotts* 25
5. fuad_gafarov 22
6. zomurn 21
7. Andy* 19
8. RodrigoA 16
9. ddraper* 16
10. mitpatoliya 16

As noted by the asterisk (*) half of January’s Top 10 are Alfresco employees.

And if you are looking for specific forums that need the most help in terms of unanswered posts, here are the Top 10 Forums by Current Unanswered Post Count (as of 2/16):

1. Alfresco Share 210
2. Configuration 169
3. Alfresco Discussion 89
4. Alfresco Share Development 85
5. Installation 82
6. Repository Services 54
7. Workflow 47
8. Development Environment 44
9. Web Scripts 44
10. Alfresco Explorer 40

I’ll post the February numbers next week, and will continue to do so each month if you find them helpful or inspiring.

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.

Alfresco Wiki Cleanup In Progress: Want to Help?

For someone who’s made the better part of a career about content management, my office is an abomination. Glancing around, I see a box of critical business documents sitting next to and virtually indistinguishable from a pile of papers ready to be recycled. In the closet, months (years?) of bills and other household detritus are stacked precariously atop the filing cabinet meant to organize them.

From time to time, Christy and I will get fed up and we’ll declare war on that stack of papers, spending an entire Sunday shredding and filing. Cleanup projects like this all start pretty much the same way:

  1. Create a filing system you like
  2. Make sure everything is filed
  3. Go folder by folder, pruning content, merging folders, splitting out folders, etc.

The steps are simple, but each cleanup is time-consuming. In-between cleanups it’s tough to find things, although, curiously, Christy has an uncanny knack for finding last month’s cable bill within seconds, regardless of the pile it’s been put in.

The critical breakdown in the process, of course, is that we aren’t disciplined enough to file and prune as we go. Chalk it up to laziness, time constraints, and even the poor quality of the filing cabinet and the cramped physical layout of the office closet. Whatever the reason, it’s a bit of a mess.

My office closet is almost perfectly analogous to the Alfresco Wiki:

  • There is good content in there if you know where to look.
  • There is a lot of outdated content, some of which begs the question, “Why are we saving this?”.
  • New pages get added with little thought to proper categorization.
  • Newcomers to the community are often hard-pressed to find what they are looking for because the browsability sucks.

This last point is really important. We did a Community Survey earlier in the year that had a section on the wiki. The results indicated that most people can find what they are looking for. But multiple people came up to me during DevCon and mentioned how difficult the wiki is for newcomers and even offered to help. I think the reason for this may be that experts know what they are looking for but newcomers often don’t. Experts search (or already have their favorite pages bookmarked) while newcomers need a hierarchy to browse.

I believe that, in general, we could be doing a much better job getting new developers ramped up on the platform, and the wiki is a starting point for many of them, so getting the wiki in shape (and keeping it that way) is important, even if experts can already find what they are looking for.

In short, it’s time to do a cleanup. Now, unlike my domestic situation, where the maximum possible number of people who would help with the office closet cleanup job is 4 (and that’s wildly optimistic), the Alfresco community is thousands strong. I know not everyone in our community is interested or even good at cleaning up and curating the wiki. But several have volunteered. We’re calling them Alfresco Wiki Gardeners.

The goal is not to do a one-time cleanup and then ignore it until it gets messy again. We do have to clean up what’s there, of course, but I’m hoping that, as a community-owned, community-managed asset, the Alfresco Wiki Gardeners will take ownership of the wiki and provide consistent curation over time. What we need to help make that happen is:

  • A group of people that care enough to spend time on it
  • High-level guidelines and loose direction
  • Channels for coordinating work
  • Regular attention

So here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • Formed the Alfresco Wiki Gardeners and had an initial meeting. We are using a Google Group to coordinate activities. We plan to meet online each month. We’re using chat to coordinate in-between meetings.
  • Created a Wiki Guidelines page, linked to from the Wiki main page. The document explains what the wiki is, what it should contain, some guidelines for authors, and how to get involved.
  • Categorized every category. We’ve moved from a flat list of categories to a hierarchy. The result is that we now have a pretty clean set of categories at the top level that is effectively our Table of Contents.
  • Categorized every page. This is almost done. We want every page to live in at least one bucket. Starting today, if you create a page on the wiki and you don’t categorize it, it’s going to get categorized. If it defies categorization it’s going to get deleted.
  • Drafted a set of “Special Categories”. These categories will be used to tag things like “Engineering Notes” or “Obsolete Pages” or pages that “Need to be Reviewed”.

Now we need to start cleaning up existing pages and some of the lower level categories. Obsolete content needs to be flagged, forward references to formal documentation on docs.alfresco.com need to be added. Some categories need to be combined or relocated.

I’m hoping that soon we’ll be able to identify major holes where new content is needed. I can already tell we need a ton of new content on Alfresco 4, particularly around Share Extensibility. We also need to spruce up the “Getting Started” category.

There is a lot of work to do. You can help. If you see a problem on a wiki page, log in and fix it. You don’t need to be a formal member of the Gardeners group to do that. But if you want to adopt a category or a topic area or commit to spending time regularly curating the Alfresco Wiki, you should join the Alfresco Wiki Gardeners group on Google so we can coordinate our efforts.

I hope this new team gets traction. I want to see a wiki we can be proud of instead of one we have to apologize for. Who’s with me?

Screencasts highlighting a few new Alfresco 4 Community features

Alfresco 4 Community was released last week. There’s a nice presentation on slideshare that summarizes what’s new in Alfresco 4, so I’m not going to give a comprehensive list here. And we’re going to be covering the technical details on all of the new features at DevCon in San Diego and London so I’ll save the code snippets for DevCon.

Next week, people all over the world will be celebrating the Alfresco 4 release with informal meetups so I thought in this post I’d prime the pump a bit with a brief list of the more buzz-worthy features and record some short screencasts of those so that if you aren’t able to join one of the worldwide release parties, you can have your own little soiree at your home or office. Just try not to let it get out of control. If the cops do show up, you might mention that the New York Police Department uses Alfresco.


I’ve been showing Alfresco 4 at JavaOne all week and drag-and-drop was pretty popular. You can drag one or more files from your machine into the repo. And you can move them from one folder to another by dropping onto the folder hierarchy. You’ll need an HTML5-enabled browser for this to work. Here it is in action (this one didn’t get created in HD for some reason):

Document Library In-Line Edit

It’s a little thing, but it’s handy. You can change file names and add tags from the document list without launching the edit metadata panel.

Configurable Document Library Sort Order & Better Site Config

How many times has a customer asked you to change the document library sort order? I know, I know. Now they can do it themselves. Also, you can now brand sites individually, so each site can have its own theme. And components can be renamed to things like your document library don’t have to be called “Document Library”.

Better Administration

The Share Administration panel now has a Node Browser, a Category Manager, and a Tag Manager. The Node Browser and the Category Manager were actually direct community contributions. Tell me again why you are still using the old Alfresco Explorer client?

DM to File System Publish

Last year at DevCon in New York, a bunch of us tackled Brian Remmington, wrestled him to the ground, and refused to let him up until he agreed to add this to the product. Once security was able to break up the scrum we apologized and had a good talk. I think deep down he appreciated our passion. I’m joking, of course, but what’s not a joke is that the DM-to-file system publish functionality is now in there. I’ll update this post with a screencast as soon as I figure out how it works.

So take a look at the presentation for a more complete summary. I didn’t show Activiti or Solr, which are two much-anticipated additions to the product, because the value they add is hard to convey in a short screencast. Feel free to record your own screencasts of your favorite new features and point me to them.

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?

What the hell do I do all day: The bucket model of community leadership

I am at the Community Leadership Summit (CLS) in Portland this weekend where hundreds of people whose jobs it is to lead communities have come together to collaborate on a wide variety of community-related topics.

One of the talks I attended yesterday was “What the Hell Do We Do Everyday?” by Evan Hamilton. The goal was to compare notes on how community leaders spend their time day-to-day. As part of the discussion, I roughed out a “Bucket Model” that groups the types of tasks that seem to me to be part of the job. Many people seemed to like it so I thought I’d post it here.

Although I’ve been active in the Alfresco community for a long time, it didn’t become my full-time job until a few months ago. When that happened, the first thing I did was think about what the community needed from me. I wrote down all kinds of things, from tactical stuff like, “Answer questions in the forum” to more strategic stuff like, “Make the community more vibrant”. As I looked at my list I realized that there were buckets of things I needed to do that probably wouldn’t change much over time. Because I’m part of the Marketing organization, I also realized that my buckets should all start with the same letter. And maybe if my buckets were one word action verbs, they’d stick in the minds of my team and the community. So here are the 3 E’s of Community Leadership: Engage, Enable, and Expose.


Engage is about engaging community members, regardless of skill set or role in the community, to participate more deeply. This encompasses tasks like connecting community members with community initiatives, speaking at local community events, or facilitating a community advisory board or some other type of discussion. Engage is really about being an active and present part of the community.


Enable is a bucket of tasks around making sure the community has the tools they need to meet their goals. This is not only removing hurdles and resolving conflict, but also providing technical tools and infrastructure like wikis, forums, IRC channels, etc. If your community is technical, it could also mean providing examples, tutorials, and code snippets.


Expose consists of tasks that are about exposing the greatness already existing in the community, both community projects and individuals. The goal here is to really be the amplifier around the good things going on in the community. This helps increase community awareness, but it also helps reinforce and model the behavior that you want to encourage from the rest of the community.

The tasks in the “3 E’s” buckets are all about moving forward toward achieving the community vision. But there are also a set of “run-and-maintain” tasks that are really about keeping the wheels from falling off. Maybe this ought to be a fourth “E” bucket called “Execute“. These tasks fall into sub-buckets like:

Monitor. As community leaders, we have all sorts of channels we’re wired into: Email, Social, IRC, Forums, Wiki, Blogs, etc. Part of execution is monitoring and responding to these channels. As one of the attendees pointed out, if you aren’t careful, this one can suck the life out of you if you don’t manage it properly.

Measure. Putting measures in place and keeping track of those measures is an important way to figure out if you’re making progress against your plan. The specific measures are different for each community but they might be things like survey results, downloads, installs, registered forum/wiki users, forum points awarded, etc.

Report. Report is about getting reports from your team and reporting status to the rest of the community.

Plan. This bucket is about periodically reviewing and refining your plan.

I’ve spun up projects/initiatives that slot into each of these buckets. So, on any given day, I’m either personally working on tasks that fall into these buckets, or I’m working with team mates and other members of the community who are doing the same.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what Alfresco’s Chief Community Officer does, now you know. And if you’re also a community leader, I’d love to see how this maps up to what you do. What did I miss?