Tuesday, September 28, 2004

FlexWiki Available on SourceForge

Finally, finally, finally, FlexWiki has completed its long transition from its old home at GotDotNet to its new home at SourceForge. David Ornstein - the father of FlexWiki - has a post talking about it from his perspective. Here's mine.

Way back in February or March, I became disillusioned with the state of affairs at GotDotNet. I'd been working a lot on my tools FlexWikiPad and FwSync, and wrestling with the GDN tooling was becoming so annoying that it was starting to make me dread working on my stuff. So, I took matters into my own hands and moved my code to SourceForge, which I'd found much easier to work with. Not perfect, but better.

At the same time, I was still contributing to FlexWiki itself. Since that code was still on GDN, I started to agitate for a move to SourceForge. Why? Because I wanted it to be easier for me. :) But I also truly believed that it was a better place for FlexWiki to grow, and that the other developers would find the experience better, too. Of course, that was selfishly motivated as well, because more people working on it means more cool features.

David Ornstein was thinking along the same lines at the time, so we started to work together. Because I was complaining the loudest, I felt an obligation to help, particularly because I'd set up or help set up a few other projects on SourceForge before.

Thus began the long, long process of moving to SourceForge. For me, it was pretty easy, because my tasks were mostly technical: I'm the buildmaster for FlexWiki now, so I wrote a build script and set up a CruiseControl.NET Continous Integration server at http://builds.flexwiki.com. David's part was much harder; in addition to the technical tasks that he took on, he had to convince Microsoft (his employer) to allow this to happen. Since FlexWiki is only Microsoft's third open source project (after WiX and WTL), it was a very big deal, involving much coordination on David's part.

And it took months. This was highly frustrating for many people, but particularly so for would-be FlexWiki contributors. Several of them emailed me periodically saying, “When will the move be done?“ To which I could only respond: “Soon.“ Before long, it became obvious to me that I should switch that to the more truthful, “We don't know, but we're still working on it.“

But last night, at long last, all the legal documents had been signed, all the crucial technical details had been taken care of, the CNET article posted, and the word came down: the FlexWiki project site is now live. We've even got a release posted that has a few new features, like better support for Firefox. Plus, with continuous integration set up and (hopefully) working, I think we can more easily and frequently release contributions to the public.

Moving forward, we're definitely hoping that we can once again rally the FlexWiki development community, which has languished while David and I (mostly David) were working to get things transitioned. We'd particularly like to focus on bugfixes for a while - a fair number of defects have been logged but not addressed. There's still a fair amount of administrative work to do, too, like moving the bugs from the wiki where they live now to the SourceForge tracker where we'd like them to be. But we are finally blocked only by technical issues, which are the ones we know how to solve.

One of the questions I expect people will ask is, “How do I get involved?“ To start with, join either the users or developers mailing list, according to your inclinations. If you're of a developing mind, grab the source code and start poking around. Just be aware that we're going to be fairly careful with handing out write access - David talks about that more in his post.

Oh, and one exciting thing I almost forgot to mention: Ward Cunningham is a member of the FlexWiki project. Ward quite literally invented wikis, so we're really happy to have him involved.

This is the second major software release for me in as many weeks (the other being the MSDN Alpha), so it's a very exciting time for me. Unlike MSDN, though, I'm still very much a part of the FlexWiki effort. I'm sure we'll have a lot to do as people start to stretch the new system and we figure out how to run things, but I'm looking forward to it!


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