Open Sores

Ah, the joys of building a community around an open source project! Build your software, release it, flog it left and right, and before you know it you have a thriving community of users asking for advice, reporting bugs, suggesting improvements, sometimes even submitting patches. Then, of course, you have your kooks. In fact, I’m beginning to think that you can measure the success of an open source project by the level of kook activity on its mailing lists. If all mailing list traffic is invariably polite and constructive, then you have a niche project which only attracts a small number of highly specialized and competent people; only a truly great software project will make enough of a splash to attract the attention of a genuine, grade-A, accept-no-imitations kook. Continue reading “Open Sores”

A brief report from the 2007 eZ Conference & Awards

I’ll go right ahead and start with the conclusion: from my perspective, the conference was both a huge success and a very pleasant experience.

It was a huge success because my presentation (slides in PDF format) was well attended and well received (partly thanks to VG‘s Jo Christian Oterhals, who during his Friday morning keynote not only promoted Varnish as an essential component of their “extended LAMP stack” but also encouraged his audience to attend my presentation. There were so many questions from the audience that my 45-minute slot stretched into a 75-minute marathon, after which I was besieged in the hall and at the lunch buffet by attendees who wanted additional details and advice on how to deploy Varnish. After a quick lunch, I went straight into an hour-long meeting with eZ Systems developers and admins to discuss integration issues between eZ Publish and Varnish. Happily, rather than take offense at my pointing out cacheability-reducing flaws in eZ Publish during my presentation, they took it as an opportunity to learn something and improve their product. This attitude (and their amazing community-building efforts) is probably part of why their product is so successful.

It was also a pleasure, for a number of reasons. It was of course a great opportunity to connect with interesting people, such as Telenor R&I senior researcher Hilde Lovett or Mozilla Foundation Ombudslizard Zak Greant, both of whom I hope to meet again. It was also a pleasure to meet such helpful and professional eZ staff members as Shezmeen Hudani and Kendra Penrose, who took very good care of me from the moment I reached the conference venue on Thursday morning until the moment I left on Friday evening. I know it’s their job, but it’s still very nice to have every little technical wrinkle ironed out within minutes and feel entirely confident that everything will work perfectly when I step up to the podium. If only every event I attend took as good care of their speakers! Continue reading “A brief report from the 2007 eZ Conference & Awards”