Congratulations, John Cox, and the Dev Team!

Posted by HarryZ  on Friday, August 30, 2002

I was very glad to read about John's announcement over on the DinerMinor site.

It was refreshing to read that the old Dev team is doing well, and that they are cranking on following up on their original roadmap. Good luck, guys - I know you will come out with some cool stuff any day now.

I realize that there's a lot of discussion going on about their plans and their project in our forums and lists , since they don't have message forum and mailing list infrastructure in place - so I've decided to help them out by creating both a mailing list, as well as special forum that interested users can utilize until such a time as John's communication infrastructure is in place.

You may join and post to the mailing list, or head over to the ProjectX Forum. Both are open lists, open to all.

Enjoy, and please respect the PostNuke Forums and mailing lists, in the meantime.


The PostNuke Core Development Team (part I)

Posted by HarryZ  on Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Alright, it's time to introduce and meet the folks that are still left, the folks that have joined up, and send out a call for volunteers to help us move forward.

As I stated in the earlier vision statement, one of the things that I considered necessary was to trim down, and reduce the previously bloated development team to a more manageable size. Necessary - because a smaller, more flexible team is far more capable to respond to changes, and far faster and more flexible to implement minor or even drastic enhancements. Historically, this has been demonstrated in PostNuke whereas many of the drastic architecture changes were able to be implemented quickly by individuals.

Fortunately, due to recent events, we are now left with a group of very talented and dedicated individuals, who have significantly contributed to PostNuke, who have given 200% of their time, effort, and themselves to PostNuke during the past few weeks, and whose efforts are reflected in many of the changes to come in the next few weeks.

I plan on setting up separate 'bio' pages for all developers and contributors to the project, but until that module is finished, we have:

Neo / Sam : Sam hails to us from Mexico City, Mexico, where he resides with his lovely wife and son - both of which he loves dearly. I've known Sam for a while, in fact, our friendship extends to long before PostNuke - through his site he has contributed his innovation to the tmda configuration tool, qadmin-tmda, among many other cool things. Being the PHP guru that he is, he has contributed some really cool new technologies to PostNuke, including flexible block positioning under standard themes, and his embedding technology that is currently showcased at the Town hall meeting and with the phpBB integration. He has many other tricks up his sleeve, and I harbor a theory that he doesn't need any sleep. I'm excited to have him aboard.

MagicX / Alex : Having joined us from beautiful Germany, I didn't know him until I was introduced to him via Sam. He is responsible for the site, as well as he has been instrumental in the overhaul of the new PostNuke site's look and navigation aids. As some pointed out, we now have a definite 'MagicX feel' to the site, but hey, that's called 'style', and Alex certainly has his own.

VWorld / Vanessa : Living in San Diego, CA Vanessa certainly gets the bonus of a great climate, which undoubtedly contributes to the sense of style that she brings to her graphic and site design. Vanessa runs and operates a LOT of different sites (I met her via a Big Brother site she operated), and also runs, a site dealing in educational concepts.

There are more, but instead of posting partial information, I would rather just wait to get more bio information and follow-up with a second article for the remaining team members, folks like Stratagem, who decided to stick with PostNuke, and who's invaluable to keep the site and related services running smoothly - and who I wouldn't do justice with just ashort sentence.

Thus this is


The Road Map

Posted by HarryZ  on Tuesday, August 27, 2002

I'm writing this with 0.721 ready to head out the door, and with questions on everyone's mind of not just where we are going, but what specific steps we will be taking to get there.

Because of our present circumstances, obviously some changes to the roadmap will be necessary - but those changes, in my opinion, will be for the best, as they will speed up some enhancements, while giving us some time to work on others.

Most of all, I believe what really matters to most of you, is the final result - and we want that to be a stable, solid, flexible and innovative PostNuke. A product that will allow you to easily and quickly build and manage websites.

At least that is what I got out of the many comments that have been contributed recently : What the majority of you want are: STABILITY, LEAN CORE, MODULAR DESIGN, A THEME SYSTEM, COMPATIBILITY, EASE OF USE.

With that in mind, while far from being hewn in stone, here's how I see the road that leads us there, and how the various aspects of PostNuke will be affected.

0.721-Phoenix : the recent bug-fix release will also include several enhancements (like new block control using standard pnThemes), as well as provide upwards compatibility for Encompass/Envolution installations (to allow those users to upgrade seamlessly to 0.721-Phoenix.) A changes list will be posted with the release.

0.725-Phoenix : to include the new Phoenix Theme Engine, based on FastTemplates, more bug fixes, more minor improvements to modules, new themes to show off new capabilities. documentation for new features will accompany release.

0.726-Phoenix : Will include short URLs backported from 0.8, improved AddStory, comments and news system (which needs an overhaul), admin redesign, more user interface improvements throughout the system. documentation for new features will accompany release

0.727-Phoenix : Permissions UI and functionality overhaul (looking for suggestions and ideas); Download module overhaul, start of the installation overhaul. documentation for new features will accompany release

0.728 - 0.799 : further finetunings, improvements to the core, improvements and better integration of several modules, improvements to the installation and upgrade system, some kind of WYSIWYG editor solution.

0.8xx - 0.899 : Further Core and module separation, PN modules will be tested and converted to full pnAPI compatibility, xmlrpc in a big way, as well as client apps that allow control, third-party module devs will be assisted with conversions if needed, installation that allows customized installations, Feature requests will be integrated further. documentation will be tackled in a big way to provide a comprehensive compendium of all information that a user and admin might need. Essential information will be bundled.

0.9xx-0.999 : BETA phase - this is when we can take what we have created up to that point and REALLY throw the book at it, and meticulously iron out any problems and bugs that might still be in there - this is the period that we tie up the loose ends, as well as ALL reported bugs. The goal is a clean, fast running, bug free application for the 1.0 release. documentation must be in final format, with any last details amended and fixed.

1.00 - Tranquility Release : Pretty much the goal for this is to announce it, sit back, and go on a vacation - of course, that won't happen, as we expect some additional last minute tweaks to probably take us through a handful of additional maintenance releases. Still, with 1.0 I'm hoping that PostNuke will be in a state where a solid core can be configured to 'become anything', based on modules, themes and configurations. This should be the final release, or it can be taken beyond by ether new leadership, or, what the heck, we may discover something new to do with it.

Now, what needs to be understood, coding and writing docs is but a part of what it takes to make the PostNuke effort a success - marketing and promoting PostNuke is an initiative that I consider to be essential to the success of this project. After all, what good is the best project, if no one knows about it.

Marketing Initiative
To that effect, throughout all phases of this roadmap, I will supervise aggressive marketing approach to make sure that PostNuke is well-known, to assure us from getting the prerequiste coverage, and to make sure that we grow our user base by creating more awareness of the project. Some of this will be achieved via technological alliances, some of it via ancilliary services, some of it via aggressive promotion, and some of it via means we haven't even thought of yet. I have some pretty good ideas how to go about doing that, but that's for another article. Consider this a call for volunteers.

Developer Rewards
In addition, since any good project is based on the fruits of equally good developers, I strongly believe that there ought to be ways and means to compensate those hard-working souls for their effort - it is therefore a priority to me, to create an environment and an atmosphere that provides appropriate means for the userbase to show their appreciation of both he project, or the individual developer. I have a system all worked out to achieve that, but, again, that's for another article.

Community Focus
Lastly, the community focus of this project will always be at the forefront, so expect full communication, op-ed pieces, town meetings, and more details about 'PostNuke events & news', not just from me, but others on the development team.

Oh, you ask "Who the heck is on the dev team???"

Read on - next article


The Vision Thing....

Posted by HarryZ  on Tuesday, August 27, 2002

A lot of you have been wondering what the 'new' vision for PostNuke is, or more specifically, what my vision for PostNuke is.

The answer, really, is simple, and it really just requires a re-reading of the original, and still valid, vision statement from John Cox, which is still linked at the top.

In fact, re-reading this statement, I find it haunting how very much it applies, on many different levels, to the situation and conditions when it was written. Therefore, without further adoo...

Where we have been:

The original PostNuke project split from php-nuke because of ideological differences, notably the isolationist development style of its developer, and his rather negative attitude towards his community. The breaking point that caused the split was the infamous posting that directly resulted in the creation of PostNuke. In many ways the parallels are striking, as *I* felt that PostNuke had been in a similar down-spiral with regards to its commitment and attitude towards the community.

Due to changed circumstances, myself and other like-minded folks will hopefully be able to return PostNuke to its community based, as well as techno-ideological roots.

I'd like to remind some of the more impatient folks in the user community of John Cox' original words during that initial organizational phase, specifically :"We spent the next month or so planning where we wanted to go. We also worked on some things that we knew could be done in the short term, and tried to get those together while we talked about the project. We also looked at some of the things that others were working on, to get even more ideas. All of this time was spent planning. We would be no where near the point we are now if we hadn't used this time wisely. "

Assessing the present situation, evaluating what needs to be done, selecting the proper direction and making decisions that will not just be a stop-gap measure, but will provide long-term growth are not easy tasks - and I will NOT be rushed into dumping out some half-asses statement just to satisfy some impatients, only to have to revise it a half a dozen times.

So, Where are we now:

The project has lost 100% of its core developers - which mnay might see as a point of crisis, but I saw it as quite the opportunity (as a matter of fact, in Japanese, I believe, the words for 'crisis' and 'opportunity' are the same).

Let's face it, the project had grown a lot of bloat, and had become very top-heavy - and grew increasingly detached from the userbase and community that supported it - a massive pruning of the org chart would have been necessary anyway, and the mass exodus that took place conveniently saved me hassle of having to deal with that.

It was also an opportunity to create a far leaner organizational structure, with less bloat, and populated with participants that are more concerned and more in touch with the community, since community is an important focuse for us (but, rest assured, it is not the sole focus). Again, I am reminded of the original vision statement, which stil applies:

"We are trying to also build a community. Everyone is welcome here. Although, the current climate might be more suitable for some one that is accustom to a development atmosphere, I think that we are also doing our best to build up the community. Without the support of everyone that reads this document, we could well loose focus of where we want to go, and in the end we would all loose out. We want to build a better website. Obviously you want to see if there is something better on the horizon, or you would never visit. "

It is worth noticing that a redesign of the website was thus, far from the fluff that some claimed it is. In order to show you where we want to go, it is necessary for us to show you what that looks like, and work together with you in refining and finetuning it. The redesign of the new PostNuke website was a great illustration of the community coming together and working with the developers to create something better than we originally envisioned - and that process is far from over.

Where Are We Going:

Now we're getting to the juicy part, and the one that everyone is curious about - the future. Again, I need to refer back to the original vision statement:

"Well, here it is in a nutshell of where we want to get to. We want a division of Core to Plugin files (...). We want a system that installs without a hitch, that allows you to choose what you want to install to make your website run better and faster. That is what is on our mind. We also want to maintain some semblance to PHP-Nuke in terms of adding abstraction layers to allow you to be able to use all of its add-ons and themes if you so desire. "

Originally, the vision for PostNuke was simple - create a stable, lean and small core, and build upon that core with modules. This went well, as many past developers have done an admirable job removing clutter from the core, streamlining it, and making it lean and mean. In addition, much of the original functionality has been agressively moved to modules, all the while making efforts to maintain legacy compatibility with themes and modules.

So, those of you concerned about the vision can rest assure that *nothing* about it has changed - in fact, as I said in the beginning, it's startling how much our present condition mirrors those that existed when the original vision was committed by John Cox.

What we want:

* a lean and stable core
* functional and flexible modules
* flexible and easy to use themes
* a stable API system to provide future stability and

Where you might perceive changes is in with the roadmap, but only by virtue of the circumstances that gave rise to where we are now - yet, again, I saw our situation as an opportunity to streamline the roadmap, and provide what it set out to, a bit 'earlier' (i.e. under the 0.72 tree) than laid out back then.

But that is what I will be dealing with in the next article, as this is already plenty to digest (and I'm starting to type the 'Road Map' as soon as I hit 'post' on this one, which will then be followed by the new org chart, and new dev team).


I'm listening....

Posted by HarryZ  on Monday, August 26, 2002

"A good listener tries to understand thoroughly what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but before he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with."
-Kenneth A. Wells,
Guide to Good Leadership

Let's make this one short and sweet : What do you want?

Over the course of the past week, many requests, suggestions and even demands were made of what people think they want from the project, so I figured I would just make this easy, and ask, point-blank, "What do you want?

Many people insist on demanding 0.8, yet what exactly *is* 0.8? Do you just want some release numbered 0.8? That's easy to do, though I doubt that would appease them; What specific features, capabilities, enhancements and so fort do you want to see; what is important for your implementation of PostNuke?

Let's hear first what everyone wants, and then take it from there.

The Road Ahead (with apologies to Rand McNally)

Posted by HarryZ  on Monday, August 26, 2002

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference." -Robert Frost

I'd like to apologize getting this roadmap, really more a draft, tthis late to all of you. I understand that part of the concern were unanswered questions, "Where are we?" "Where are we headed?". Hopefully, this will be able to shed some light on these, and comfort and reassure you that there is indeed method to our madness, and that the good ship 'PostNuke' is indeed on the right course, your course.

In essence, right after John passed the reigns of the project to me, and just before the mass Exodus that followed, I saw the project very much as in a similar vein as the Apache or Linux development trees.

There is a stable tree, and there is a development tree. In our cases, the stable tree was the 0.72x branch, while the development branch was the more cutting edge 0.8x development. As many of you that had been struggling with the 'stable' 0.72x branch knew, its stability left much to be desired, as most of the development concentrated on 0.8, leaving, IMO, 0.72x falling a bit by the wayside.

I strongly believe, as I have explained in one of my earliest articles, that 0.,8 development can and should continue, yet that 0.72 development should receive a renewed emphasis - in effect making the two separate development projects under the same umbrella.

That way, one development team can concentrate on making the 0.72x branch as stable and reliable as possible, while the 0.8 team would work on the 'future'. Since it would be necessary for the two teams to share knowledge and resources, the best of either branch would benefit the other as well.

Just because the former development team has opted to abandon the project, I do not believe that this vision needs to change - it just means that 0.72 and 0.8 will be developed and finished by new developers, and fresh blood has certainly never hurt a gene pool

Some of you may ask, why 'waste' time on 0.72, when 0.8 is 'around the corner'? Well, I've said it before, and I will say it again - regardless of much of the hype, and release promises, a functional (production capable) 0.8 was not even close, at best, 6 months out. While you can certainly download 0.8 from CVS, and play around with it, PostNuke is *not* just what the CVS contains, but it is also the ability to expand via the use of third-party modules, creative themes, etc... Since 0.8 would have deliberately broken compatibility with legacy themes and legacy modules, one would also have had to count the time it would have taken developers to port their modules, themes, etc.. over. Repeatedly having to fix and rewrite modules for each new release certainly grew taxing on developers, and the deliberate breaking of compatibility in the 0.72 tree because of the case issues certainly did not help either.

In summary, in order to give 0.8 needed time to mature, and develop, a rock-solid, stable release branch was needed that users and admins can utilize *right now* - I see 0.72x as that branch.

Seeing as how 0.8 is currently on hiatus, and waiting for a fresh flock of developers, I decided that the community is best served by us concentrating on making 0.72 as good as it can be.

What does that mean:

- Concentrating on, and little by little, eliminating and fixing all residual bugs and inconveniences left.

- Enhancing and expanding existing systems.

- Introducing short URLs (something PN desperately needs), yet while maintaining backwards compatibility so as to not break existing internal and external links.

- A theme system overhaul, to introduce either theme creation, and breaking the three column paradigm (which, incidentally, Neo has already done what was termed impossible within the existing PN Theme structure). More on that later and separately.

- Maintaining longer compatibiity for module developers, and introducing a path to the new API that is easier.

- Legacy support for themes, yet introduction of new technologies.

- Agressive alliances with existing web-technologies to enhance and improve performance and features.

- Innovation, innovation, innovation....

Some of these will start to be introduced with the 0.721 release, and others will follow in subsequent releases. Each release is intended to stress ONE new feature, and further streamlining of existing structures.

Therefore, in summary, the goal and objective is to provide you, the PostNuke administrator and user with a system and infrastructure that will allow you to get the best out of your site, while at the same time allowing you to extend and retain your investment in your site - don't have the time to update your theme, use the old one, until you do, etc...

I'm sure I have missed some issues, and might have misunderstood others - let me know, discuss this, and we'll revisit this issue. As I said, your well-being and your sites and applications are my concern, and it is with that in mind, that I have made these decisions - and in closing, I'd like to leave you with another Robert Frost quote:

"The best way out is always through."

An Update from the Trenches....

Posted by HarryZ  on Monday, August 26, 2002

Hi Folks - seems that our buddy Murphy is out in full force, as I'm just recovering from a minor comedy of hardware fun - my main desktop machine decided to 'act funny', while I was busy with a comprehensive Mac OS X upgrade on my laptop (having backed up my data to the desktop, needless to say).

Yep, what fun - but on with the essentials - News from and about the PostNuke project.

There's quite a few issues that have surfaced on the mailing lists, as well as the article comments boards, so in the interest of organization, and general sanity, I will be spreading the various issues out to individual articles.

That way, we can keep the various issues segregated, and don't end up with a hodge-podge of uncontrolled commentaries.

The way I see it, there are a number of issues that are important to you, and I hope to be able to address them all in a satisfactory manner. But before I do, I feel I need to address one major issue, and that is one of expectations and differing needs.

Now, I'm also well-aware that it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy, and that some of you might not agree with directions and ideas I'm about to share.

That's okay. People disagree - if we didn't, we'd be robots. All I ask is that if you disagree, you rationally and calmly explain your disagreement, and the reason behind the disagreement. I don't pretend to know it all, nor do I assume I know what each of you need and want.

Now, that being said, this project is not here to satisfy the needs of everyone - as stated above, that's impossible.

The nature of Open Source is to 'scratch an itch', so all of us involved in the project do so because it meets a need of ours. Where Open Source becomes fun is when others look at a project, and suggest "How about...", and if your suggestion or contribution happens to fit our roadmap, and the direction we're going, or is even something we never thought of ourselves, so much the better. The project grows, everyone gets something they need, and we sing 'Kumbaya'.

On the other hand, if we see PostNuke as a weblog/CMS, yet you want it to be an espresso machine, then you need to realize that we are not a good match for you, and find something like or to pursue your goals. No harm, no foul, and we still end up singing Kumbaya.

That being said, I do consider it important for those of us managing this project to take the needs of the community and its contributors into consideration, which is why I try to make these articles a regular feature to solicit and digest feedback from all of you.

The last batch of articles resulted in a lot of really valuable feedback, and many suggestions and ideas that have influenced our decisions regarding 'what to do next' . While I certainly have a definite vision and idea where to take PostNuke, and how to get there, as stated earlier, I don't pretend to know everything, and different folks contribute ideas and suggestions from a different angle, an angle that we may not have considered - again, that's what Open Source is all about. We show you ours, and you show us yours....

Now, onwards to the issues....

Getting back on track...!

Posted by Harry Zink  on Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I certainly understand that John's departure is leaving concerns, uncertainty, and controversy in its wake - but as I'm composing this mission statement at 4:30 in the morning, in the hope that many of you will come to understand what the immediate future for PostNuke will hold - and that there's good stuff ahead for everyone.

First of all, let me state that it will certainly not be easy to fill the shoes that John has left behind, but I join others who suggested that John should consider himself to be on a vacation, not a terminal absence. He has been an instrumental part in guiding PostNuke where it is today, and as such deserves to have his contributions and leadership appreciated. Hey, big guy, just know that your account on here will always be waiting for you.

That being said, I understand that any change brings concerns with it, and thus I want to assure both the developer community as well as the user community that I have every intention of staying the course of the original vision for PostNuke, albeit we all need to realize that some procedural changes will be necessary to address the issues that have given rise to much strife over the past months - I want to make sure that not only can we address and lay to rest present issues, but can also implement simple procedures to avoid them from ever rearing their ugly head again. I believe this to be possible.

To me, in order to be able to do this, several things are necessary:

- addressing of current release issues : The 0.72 release has brought along several major problems, notably upgrade problems for existing sites, due to a change in case within the infrastructure. By the time you read this, new 0.72 installers will have been made available for download. These should provide seamless updates to sites running 0.7x, which we have tested. Technically, all upgrades should work, but we have not tested them. I wanted to get these fixes out as soon as possible, to allow those affected by the prior update to regain a functional site.

- Encompass : You will notice that a second updater file supports the Encompass enhanced PostNuke. As there is a significant population of users of the PostNuke+Encompass solution, which did not have an upgrade solution, we decided to provide this as well -- particularly in the interest of supporting these recently stranded PostNuke users. Welcome back, folks.

- PostNuke 0.8 development : As far as I am concerned, PN 0.8 development should not be affected by this change at all. My primary concern is to provide a current, functional, and stable release - which is the 0.72 branch. Maintaining this branch stable and reliable will allow 0.8 devs to concentrate on the further evolution of PostNuke, and will also remove the pressure of a pending release deadline from their shoulders. For all practical purposes, the feature freeze will remain in effect, as originally planned. I will, naturally, need some status information as to the state of 0.8, at one point.

This shoiuld address the most immediate concerns.

I understand that in the past there have been disagreements with some of my opinions, as well as some of my methods - there is just one request I'd like to make of everyone, developer and user alike : give me 90 days with PostNuke - then let's re-evaluate where we are at that point in time. My goals are the same as John's - to allow PostNuke to be as successful as it can be, and it will take some hard work, and a bit of dedication to get us there

Let's work together to achieve this, and to further this vision.


P.S. There will be more information forthcoming, but I wanted to get this preliminary mission statement out as soon as possible. Feel free to comment, critique, suggest, etc... I will be checking this thread, and will respond to all reasonable comments to the best of my abilities.

A Fond Farewell!

Posted by J. Cox  on Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I wanted everyone to see what I just sent to the development list for PostNuke. I have modified this just a bit, but the sentiment is the same.

I have spent a great deal of time working on the PostNuke project more for my passion of creating rather than anything else. However, in the past couple of months, I have lost the passion that kept me going with PostNuke. I am therefore stepping aside as the Project Manager of PostNuke. The fun to not fun ratio is just balanced way in the wrong direction for me justify spending any more time on the project.

I have greatly enjoyed my time working side by side with some of the most fantastic people in the world. It has been a wonderful experience for me, and I want to thank each and every one of you for jumping in and helping PostNuke towards the 1.0 release.

Somewhere in the past two months, I have lost my drive to deal with the criticism, as well as the praise. So, as unfortunate as it seems to be that I cannot complete my tenure, it is in the best interests of the community.

Effective immediately, Harry Zink is the Project Manager for PostNuke. His views and my views seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum, however we both want PostNuke to succeed, so I feel the change is right. Harry is the last founding member of PostNuke, and therefore makes sense that he should take over the realms.

As for me, I am going to be working on some new projects, spending more time with the wife and kids, and basking in the good old days, where the largest problem that I had to deal with on a software project was how best to kill a bug.

Once again, thanks for the memories. I wouldn't have traded my time and lessons for anything.

J. Cox
Signing Off.