soc

phpGroupWare gets a Commercial Partner

All the pieces are now in place, so I can make the announcement.

phpGroupWare now has a commercial partner - ReSight AS of Norway. Over the next 12 months ReSight will be working with several partners, including Bergen Bolig- og Byfornyelse KF, MIT FabLab Norway and others to enhance phpGroupWare. Most of their work will be centred on the property module, written by Sigurd Nes.

Sigurd has done a great job in pulling this off. When he first told me about this deal in Paris last year I thought that I sounded interested, but I didn't see much of a role for me in the deal. Later I learnt that it was happening and Sigurd was pushing for me to have a role. I really appreciate the effort Sigurd has put into arranging this. I think this deal is testament to Sigurd's skills as a developer and negotiator. I also think it shows that phpGroupWare is a serious business tool.

For my part in the deal, I have been contracted by ReSight for 12 months starting 1 October 2007. I will be working as an engineer and also helping to guide and drive the project. I will be meeting with ReSight in Norway from 5 October until the 18th. Other trips to Norway are likely. I am pretty excited about all of this. Not only does it mean that I am paid to work on phpGroupWare, but it means that the project has a committed commercial partner who is trying to work closely with the existing developers and participate in the community.

I believe things are starting to look pretty good for phpGroupWare. The ReSight deal is just one of several things which has come off in the last few months that really helps the project. Johan has contributed a native php implementation of SyncML as part of the Google Summer of Code program. Don from Blue GNU has been blogging about phpGW and getting it widely syndicated. The user list seems more active too. I hope all this means that we can build up enough steam to finally get 0.9.18 out some time soon.

If anyone is interested in meeting me while I am in Europe, we are planning an informal meet up in Copenhagen, Denmark on Saturday 6 October 2007. If you are interested, please contact me, and we will try to work something out. The rest of my time in Norway is still somewhat unplanned, so I can't really make any commitments. So far Johan is confirmed and Micke Larsson is a maybe. If there is enough interest and we formalise arrangements I will post the details on the lists and/or on my blog.

New phpGroupWare Release is Out

I have spent a little bit of time on phpGroupWare the last couple of evenings. The main motivator was becoming aware of CVE-2007-4048. The release also improved our PHP 5 support and there was the mandatory "various bug fixes" thrown in for good measure.

Download and enjoy!

I hope to have some time to work on some stuff in HEAD soon. Johan's syncML stuff has me excited about hacking on phpGW.

Update

Yes I have been a bit slack about blogging lately, I have had a lot on. Here is a quick summary of the notable bits.

Car

My car is at the panel beaters. The guy who hit me drove off after I accused him of being drunk. The police have told me that he has been charged with several offences, including careless driving. Julie and Noah were in the car at the time, but they were both ok. My neck still a little sore. It will cost about $8000 to get it fixed. Allianz has been really good so far, one phone call and one visit to the panel beaters and it gets sorted. And of course, here is a pic of the damage My smashed Volvo 850 Wagon This is the second Volvo I have smashed in less than 2 years (I rolled the last one and wrote it off) and escaped with nothing but minor neck injuries. If you are looking at buying a car I would recommend a Volvo 850 Wagon(or V70 / XC70 if you can afford it).

Rental Cars

I have always suspected that there are scams in the car rental business. This was confirmed by Hertz, their "Melbourne Downtown" depot was able to do a Ford Falcon XR6 for under 125AUD for the 3 days, less than half the price of their suburban depots. The second scam is the insurance excess waiver. Having to pay 1500AUD excess regardless of fault forces people to take the reduction waiver. On the positive side, their #1 Club Gold seems ok, so I signed up for free.

Work

I am still working at SGI. Last week I signed another contract extension, which will take me through until 7 September. I am currently in discussions with a company in Europe about a telecommuting role involving phpGroupWare. Things should become clearer before the end of the month - watch this space.

Summer of Code

Johan has cranked out some really nice looking sync code for phpGroupWare. I complete his mid point review a few days ago - I gave him an A. The only real criticism I made was that he should enable comments on his blog. We should get this into CVS some time this week.

Coding has begun and now I get mentoring

Johan has already started coding for his Google Summer of Code project for the GNU Project and phpGroupware. This morning I received confirmation from the FSF that his copyright assignment has been sorted.

I have done a quick review of some of Johan's work, but I hope to spend some serious time on getting things moving this weekend. The new job has really put a big whole in my time available for anything other than work, commuting or my family.

When I read Federico Mena-Quintero's Summer of Code Mentoring HOWTO, I was working pretty flexibly from home and I thought mentoring was checking over code and answering a few questions. My new job has taught me that good mentoring can make a big difference for someone coming into an organisation.

I hope over the next week or so I can establish a good routine which gives me enough time to help Johan find his way and get on with hacking on sync.

Who is Planet Summer?

Until tonight I didn't know who Planet Summer was. It turns out she is a young model, who doesn't wear a lot.

Many people wanting to find Planet Summer have been ending up on my site. A google search for planet summer lists my blog post about Planet Summer of Code.

Hint look higher up the search results if you are looking for the model's site.

Planet Summer of Code

Hi to everyone reading this post via Planet SoC - the unofficial Google Summer of Code aggregator. I am Dave Hall, API Coordinator, phpGroupWare and mentor from the GNU Project. I will be mentoring Johan Gunnarsson who will be working on a syncML interface for phpGroupWare.

I have already blogged about the wild ride that I had to become a SoC mentor.

I have decided to only add my SoC related posts to this planet so not to clutter things too much with my general ranting.

Good luck to everyone participating in SoC, it looks like some projects will end up with some pretty nice features in a few months time :)

The Summer of Code Roller Coaster

I am awaiting final confirmation from google and the GNU project, but I am 99% sure now that phpGroupWare will be getting a Summer of Code (SoC) slot, and I will be mentoring a student to implement sync.

What a process it has been, and I am yet to start mentoring. I thought others might be interested in the the ups and downs involved in getting phpGroupWare a SoC place.

At the start of March, Google opened applications mentoring organisations. I made an application on behalf of phpGroupWare. All up 141 organisations were accepted, ranging from small obscure projects through to some of the stars of the FOSS community, with a mix of grass roots and commercial projects. Unfortunately phpGroupWare ended up at 142nd or lower in the rankings.

I am sure google was inundated with applications, but it would have been nice to at least receive a "thanks but no thanks email" from them. I found out by checking the listings when they were announced. It kind of reminded me of first year uni when they would post provisional marks for the semester a couple of weeks before mailing out academic transcripts. I thought our Summer of Code was over before it had even started.

Then I noticed that the GNU Project had been accepted as a mentoring organisation. As phpGroupWare is a GNU Package it was eligible for SoC slots, under the GNU banner. The GNU project received 65 valid applications, with a further 12 being deemed to be invalid. I thought phpGW had a pretty good chance of getting one of the slots.

phpGroupWare received 2 applications for worth while improvements, those being sync and redoing the installer/setup code. It was really hard choosing between the 2 applications. The rationale went something like this. Setup is the first thing a new phpgw admin will see, our current setup app has had some eye candy added by it is far from polished and needs some serious attention, yet it is not something that someone is likely to invest money in, but it is important. Sync on the other hand allows us to support mobile devices, desktop apps (including dare I say it MS Outlook) and to tick another business functionality box, yet our previous attempts at sync have failed, usually due to technical reasons. In the end a tough choice had to be made (sorry again jarg), and we went with sync as it was going to bring the greatest benefit to our current and potential users.

The GNU SoC admins asked all the mentors to rate the applications. Our top choice (sync) was rated up.

While I was away for Easter (with limited dialup speed internet) it was announced that the GNU project had been allocated 8 spots. That seemed like a reasonable number off slots given that some GNU packages, such as GNOME had been given many more in their own right. The problem was that the 8 places allocated to the GNU project had to be shared between 11 packages. This meant that some people were going to miss out. I still thought that there was good chance of phpGW getting a slot.

On Monday when I got home (with a good connection) the final 8 was proposed, to my disappointment phpGroupWare wasn't on the list, we had been ranked 10th. This ride was still far from over. A later message suggested that there had been a rethink and 2 packages had been dropped and the last 2 slots were to shared between phpGroupWare and 2 other projects. Back to a two-thirds chance. I fired off an email explaining why I thought we should get one of remaining slots.

The next morning I woke to the bad news, we had lucked out again. Another application had been found as the diamond amongst the coal and elevated to 8th spot. phpGW was now sitting in 10th spot and out of contention, or so I thought at the time.

By this stage I was proof reading a draft blog post on the whole SoC of process. I am now glad that I didn't publish it, not that I was likely to, it was more a venting. I did email one of the admins privately asking for more information on why we had been rejected.

On Wednesday morning I was checking my mail and found a new GNU SoC final list (rev 3, I counted). One student had been allocated to 2 projects and had decided to work on the other project, this freed up 1 slot, which meant phpGroupWare moved to 9th, still 1 short. The news got better, google had allocated the GNU project an additional place. We made it, finally!

I am sure Google didn't intend it to be such a tough process for mentors, but when there are so many worthwhile FOSS projects, some many enthusiastic and competent students and a limited budget it does make it difficult for Google to give everyone a go.

It has been a long and stressful process to get phpGroupWare a SoC slot this year. I hope that the stressful part of the process is now over and that Johan Gunnarsson will turn out a functional syncML interface for phpGroupWare.

If it works out well this year, it might be worth all the effort to ride the roller coaster again in 2008, as long as Google is willing to put up the cash.

Update: I have checked and phpGroupWare is in Google's accepted list.