Community Server Roadmap and Vision

03 Sep 2004, 11:46 AM


A lot of people have been asking, 'What is Community Server?' We've been quiet on details, but we're now at a point that we're ready to start talking more about what we are doing.

The easiest description of Community Server is: an online collaboration and knowledge management platform designed to allow people to share information and ideas more easily.

We believe that the majority of people are ready for web based solutions that don't require a software developer to setup, run, and maintain. While the inner workings of our system will be potentially complex and cutting edge, such as our exclusive use of compiled ASP.NET server controls, we want to build a platform that is simple, just works, and doesn't require any technical knowledge to setup and use. At the same time, we want our technology to be something that developers can use, learn from, and appreicate as well designed software.

To build this collaborative platform we are fully integrating several of the most popular web based systems (forums, blogs, and a photo gallery) into one system. Our premise is that an integrated solution is exponentially more valuable than these same 3 technologies as stand-alone solutions. We do mean integrated, not interoperable, e.g. where adding discussion capabilities to a photo gallery just works.

By integrating together - rather than building as stand-alone solutions - we believe we can build a simple, easy to manage, and flexible platform.

To reiterate, we are building Community Server as a platform. Meaning we are desigining it to support add-ons related to knowledge managment and collaboration - such as our Knowledge Base add-on. We are not building a portal solution, but instead look to portal technologies such as DotNetNuke or Microsoft Sharepoint as the container for Community Server; although we can run as stand-alone.

One of the unique add-ons that we are building as a commercial product is an integrated email listserv. Email is the natural collaboration technology, but from a collaboration point of view leaves a lot to be desired. For example, have you ever been on an email distribution list and wanted to search old posts or view a user's profile? Or, how nice would it be to create a new blog post using your offline email client and have that post added when you re-connect? Or how easy would it be to explain to someone that to add a photo to your gallery you just 'send an email'. We're doing some more interesting things here and we'll share more details about this in the future.

From a Roadmap perspective:

Community Server 1.0
Fully integrated systems of Forums, Blogs, and nGallery with forwards compatibility with Microsoft's new Membership, Roles, and Profile features. Integrates into DotNetNuke as a portal container (which will share the forwards compatible Membership, Roles, etc. work). We may move backwards in features for this 1.0 release as we focus on quality, stability and more importantly integration. We will cut features if we have to to get the integrated solution completed.

Community Server 1.1
Point release with bug fixes, performance work, and introduction of Knowledge Base add-on. Potentially have reporting/statistics package available.

Community Server 2.0
Integrated ad system that serves targeted contextual ads. Integrated store for easily adding the ability to sell products.

Some of the add-ons that we're looking at

1. Better offline capabilities. Email is obvious and described above, but we would like to also have the ability for Forums/Blogs to act as a NNTP news server and ability to read/post to NNTP newsgroups

2. Incredible email integration and ListServ support

3. Usage of peer-to-peer technologies to allow distributed peer forums.

4. Full Web services backend with rich Windows Forms/Avalon management tools.

5. Newsletter management, subscription, creation, and archiving.

6. Publishing of articles with workflow.

...and much, much more.

Through our partner program we are integrating some key partner capabilities, such as a chat application or Passport authentication, into the platform so enabling these capabilities is simply a matter of adding the appropriate .dll and everything 'just works'.

To validate much of this work we'll be rebuilding with Community Server as the foundation. Much of what we build for will make its way back into Community Server as either part of the core platform or as add-ons.

We've tried to put together a team of thought leaders in these areas to build this platform. We use our own technology on a daily basis and work with clients to implement and understand how they use it -- allowing us to feel the pain points. Our team is distributed world-wide, and this is a trend we hope to continue. With technologies such as Community Server distributed development and collaboration are simply easier.

Hopefully this helps answer some questions about our plans and our vision, although it's still the 'tip of the iceberg'. We're really excited about what the future holds and we look forward to working with all of you in our awesome Community Server 'community' as we evolve this technology.


Community Server and DNN

10 Sep 2004, 4:06 PM


We've been a bit quiet on our plans with Community Server (in the DNN community) and I'd like to share a little more about what we've done, what we're doing, and where we're headed. I've posted some details (see link below) but also wanted to share some details that I think the DNN community wants (hopefully) to hear.

As many of you know we've collapsed 3 popluar open source projects into one system called 'Community Server'. Those 3 open source projects were: ASP.NET Forums, .Text, and nGallery. For the last 3 months now we've been cranking away integrating these technologies, we also closed off the 'open source' aspect of it as we changed from many part-time people to 4 full-time people. This closure was done for one purpose: to make sure there were the least number of distractions while the 'core' team focused on putting the pieces together. We are now in the process of putting together our plan for rebuilding the open source aspect of this project; we'll have a group of < 10 individuals that have commit access with anyone being able to submit a fix, change, or feature (but will require a committor to approve and commit the change). We're not quite there yet, but we are in discussions with the people we'd like to extend this access to.

We (as well as the DNN core team) are working closely with Microsoft to standardize on a shared user/roles/personalization data model accross DNN and Community Server. The end result - although we're not there yet - is that DNN and CS should just work together, much better than what it take to make them work together today. That work is in progress. Shaun Walker and I chat about once every 1-2 weeks about this (and other topics).

DNN is a powerful portal solution and we're looking forward to ensuring that DotNetNuke and Community Server work really, really well together. While I was on the Microsoft ASP.NET team and now after leaving Microsoft I've always been a huge proponent of DNN. That's not changing.

I hope this answers some questions about our intentions and what we hope to see happening in the near future.


Community Server build

04 Aug 2004, 10:24 PM


I want to share some important details about the Community Server release we are now working on.

We will likely have several impactful database schema changes. We are working closely with the Microsoft ASP.NET team to align our schema as closely as possible with the new Membership, Roles, and Personalization features. However, doing this is going to cause some breaking changes from the current schema. In addition to schema changes there will also be some new schema additions due to the Blog and Image gallery integration.

We will also potentially be cutting some features that appear to have bugs in the currently released version.

We'll be sharing more about what is happening as we can. Our key priority is to deliver a high-quality low defect product. Again, we will cut features if we have to. The good news is that we hope to do a release 3-4 times year.

After we get this Oct. release done we will also (hopefully) be ready to start allowing check-ins by non-Telligent employees again. We'll share some details on how that process will work later, but a goal is to make sure we compensate people for contributions depending upon their level of contributions.

Thanks, Rob


Copyright 2004