It’s (a)live: new Funambol Forge layout

After a lot of effort to develop a new and improved home page, we can finally say:

Thanks to Alessandra for the new graphic layout and Davide for some crucial css workaround, the home page of the Funambol Forge is now more informative and rich. Directly from the home page you can see reach not just the community pages but also the search box and latest Funambol news. In addition, you can see the latest messages posted to the most active mailing lists of the Forge, the latest twits about Funambol and latest messages from Funambol blogs. Enjoy the new site (and the new Funambol version 7.1).

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.

Take the mailing list archives with you

I realized that it’s true what they say about email clients: they all suck. Some suck less, some (the majority) suck more than a Dyson vacuum cleaner.’  Mailing list archives are important for communities because they represent their collective knowledge. Having all archives all in one place is definitely better than having to redirect people to google search to find answers or tips.

I had to redirect a few thousands email messages from a mailbox archive to the new Funambol Forge discussion system.’  Evolution allows redirect as does also Mail.app, so I thought it would have been banal: CTRL-a to select all messages, menu / redirect and that’s it. Wrong: both applications cannot apply the command to more than one message at the time.’  Scripting the action seemed too much work, so I reverted to using mutt, the email client that sucks less (as its motto says). Load the mailbox (mutt -f mail.box) select/tag all messages (hit the key T), apply the command to all tagged messages (hit the keys ;b), write the destination address and wait for smtp to do its job. After a couple of hours the postfix server was done. The past archives of Funambol mailing lists are in the archive of the new Forge. Great: the new discussions are ready to roll, on Monday.