Foswiki: 790 commits in 3 weeks, and now we have a name!

3 weeks into a fork compelled by the Trademark problems of the 10 year old TWiki name, and we’re almost fully reborn.

Foswiki – started out as Free, Open Source Wiki – When Community matters.

Next steps for us will be to create the Foswiki Association, and to release Foswiki v1.0 – all before Christmas 🙂

Week 2 in ‘NextWiki’ – still running at breakneck speeds

We might not yet have a name, but we’ve had over 100 commits per week, plus the 400 odd coming from my importing into our repository. The rebranding changes for the ****** v1.0 release have been declared 80% done, so the worst case estimate would see the other 80% take about 8 weeks :).

Our bug and task tracking system’s live, with connections to svn commits, twitters and lots and lots of activity both on irc and the Wiki – Its almost impossible to keep up with everything.

One week later in ‘NextWiki’

What a busy week. We’ve now been freed up to execute our plans, and so as of the first NextWiki meeting (4am Sydney time – i’m shattered) we have:

A plan for a new name (round one selections done), so we can re-brand with our own message and a functioning web site, with a newly created skin.
We’ve also set up a Subversion repository, in which we’ve already begun work on the new release, and the future release and added more automated testing facilities to ensure release quality only goes UP.
A massive cheer and support squad from an amazing number of users and helpers came to visit (and stay) us – some even just poping into the IRC channel to say hi and good luck, and then instantly logged off – not even time for us to thank them. AMAZING

We’re also working on geo-distributed Wiki servers, both for speed (your requests will go to your nearest server) and for redundancy – so its likely that in the near future, you’ll be able to replace your TWiki with something faster and more scalable (I played with searching a bit, and was receiving 1365 results in a 1.25MB html file as fast as my net connection would go).

For anyone worried about what the NextWiki fork means to you, here’s an excerpt from WhatTheForkMeans :

The democratic community model has worked for the TWiki community – developers and other contributors – and has brought you TWiki v3, 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2. That is why the reaction against the recent piracy has been so strong, and so unanimous. All the key TWiki developers are now working on the fork. The democratic nature of the project means that there is no weak point in the governance model (see Rod Beckstrom’s book for more about the power of leaderless organisations).

The winds of change have set people thinking, as well as brought back to life people who were previously inactive because of what was happening in the old project. The initial chaos is clearing fast, and plans are being made. Some of the plans include bringing back upgrade scripts, and using them to be an import tool – so upgrades will be much easier. Because we’re going to have to rename so many topics, we’re working on backwards compatibility code, migration tools etc, which will make things much simpler into the future. It’s hard to say exactly how long before we are able to release, but to put it in perspective, the biggest challenge we face is rebranding the code and documentation to avoid the unwelcome attentions of Peter Thoeny’s lawyers.

Why you should not be afraid your TWiki site will fall apart. KennethLavrsen (the ex-TWiki release manager) has summarised our position:

One thing that some key developers promised me when I agreed to support a fork (if needed) was that the fork remained 100% backwards compatible. This is one of the make or break ones. I do not have the funding to train 1000+ users to learn new terminology. It will be work enough to teach them that TWiki is no longer TWiki.

For this reason we have asked Kenneth to continue to lead in the project’s ReleaseTaskTeam – assisted as before by SvenDowideit, and to only allow the next release out the door when this promise is fulfilled. The entire decision making (and action taking) team has moved from TWiki to the Fork. Our direction, goals and aspirations have not really changed – we’re just less encumbered.As for upgrades; at this point there is no reason to change the way you have always done things. We will do our very best to make sure the upgrade is as painless as possible; we recognise that most of the people who use TWiki seek security, continuity and stability above everything else.