Legacy is good, but change can be hard

The new Funambol Forge opened registration to new members. It’s based on Collabnet, as other big free software projects like OpenOffice.org, NetBeans.org, java.net and eBay Dev. I feel comfortable and in good company 🙂

Funambol has a very big community with lots of people that contributed to the project over its many years of life. Its legacy is vast, made of 3 mailing lists spread in 2 SourceForge projects and one Yahoo! Group, one main project on OW2, many other contributed projects in the most disparate places (SF, GCode, self hosted), web pages of the free/libre version on the .com site and much more. All this deserves to be in one place. In a binary world things should be easy: move from point A to point B, delete duplicates and you’re done. But real life is harder because of one commandment of community management:

thou shalt not upset your community members

Changing a website can be very upsetting. You must give your users a good reason to change because it’s not just a matter of updating bookmarks. Your community members will have to register into a new system, change their habits, learn a new user interface, adapt their email filters.

I believe that the new discussion services on Collabnet are a fairly good reason, as will be the use of subversion (expected in July). Be delicate, be gentle and involve your community in the process.

Three projects have already decided to move in the new Forge: the SoGO Connector, the Google Connector and the Jajah Connector have a new house. I hope that more will join us in the next weeks.