Who do you have in mind when designing software?

While looking for something not directly related to software development, I stumbled over Joel Spolsky's blog this evening. I've already read most of the articles on his blog an like them a lot.

He wrote 3 especially good articles about "designing for people who have better things to do with their lives":
  1. http://joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000062.html
  2. http://joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000063.html
  3. http://joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000064.html

If you never had the opportunity to read them even though you're involved in software development and/or design, now is the time !!

BONUS ARTICLE: why you should have testers http://joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000067.html

Building a Bookmarking Application

I've been spending a couple spare hours last week working on building a Bookmarking application proof-of-concept on top of XWiki. XWiki is a second generation wiki (http://platform.xwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/SecondGenerationWiki) and I fully took advantage of this to build my application.

I got the idea from a customer meeting a couple months ago, when a customer from a large company told us he was using our software to share links with his coworkers. Sharing a link was as simple as creating a new wiki page and it worked very well. However, he was concerned about what would happen once the link count would grow: how would his users be able to find relevant links about a specific topic?

After reading about jerome's (@jvelo) brand new livetable component (http://platform.xwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/DevGuide/LiveTable) I thought it would be great to use it in order to display a list of bookmarked items.

I used delicious.com as an inspiration source: each bookmark is kept bare, with a title, an url, notes and tags. Additionally, underlying wiki features remain available: users can comment on and attach files to any given bookmark. Access rights could also be used if needed.

Here's a quick overview of the application:

  1. View a individual bookmark
  2. Add bookmarks and browse them
  3. Edit a bookmark

I'd be glad to get feedback from the community as to whether this application is worth the additional effort to turn it into a full-fledged XWiki application. Anyone interested in using it for real?

My bookmarking application isn't yet available for download (though I plan to make it available for testing on incubator.myxwiki.org pretty soon) since I discovered a couple bugs in the livetable macro while building it (the macro is really really new) and they need to be fixed before the application can be distributed and installed easily. I also plan on writing a tutorial showing how easy it is to build upon and extend XWiki through applications. Stay tuned ;-)

Awesome XWiki Enterprise 1.9 Screencast

We're getting closer to our biggest XWiki release ever...

You can check out the release notes at http://www.xwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/ReleaseNotesXWikiEnterprise19M2 (there's more to come !!)
Follow updates about XWiki releases on http://twitter.com/XWiki

UPDATE: as Raffaello points it out below, the musical score is "Making me nervous" by Brad Sucks.

Dirk Riehle on the commercial Open Source business model

Dirk Riehle, one of the organizers of WIKISYM ( http://www.wikisym.org/ ) and a researcher for SAP has a great paper on how companies create, distribute and make money out of Open-Source software. It describes XWiki's model fairly exactly, apart from the fact that since we chose to use only the LGPL license for our product we won't be pushing for a double-licensing model anytime soon.

You can find out the full paper at: http://dirkriehle.com/publications/2009/the-commercial-open-source-business-model/ . It's well worth a read !!

Today was a busy day

I got started at 9:30 for a meeting with the full XWiki French team. Jérôme (XWiki Romania office manager) joined us from Romania through Skype. Laurent (one of our designers) took the trip from Agen yesterday and he was at the Paris office with us. We waited for Vincent (our CTO) to come in but I eventually had to call him and learn that in the end he wouldn't show up since he had forgotten about the meeting.

We got started around 10am, joined by JV (one of our developers) at 10:30 (but we all knew he would be late anyway). We had an inspiring presentation by Ludovic (our CEO) that outlined the challenges and opportunities of the collaboration market. We had a great time talking about the company's business model and strengths together. We eventually went for a lunch together - talking had gotten us hungry.

Then back from lunch I had to juggle between Caty (our other designer) who asked me for feedback about the new dialog boxes we're working on (you can see a sample of her work on this page: on the left are the new ones, on the right the old ones) and Jérôme who wanted me to complete our summer intern's mission description.

Then before I could take the slightest break I was on testing our new editor conversion's feature (screencast coming soon I promise) and doing quality assurance with Thomas (another of our developers) who promptly fixed a couple bugs I had identified. I was hoping I could get some rest at that point but that was notwithstanding the project assessment I had promised Yves (our Director of Sales)....

Now let's go get some rest - tomorrow might well be quite a busy day as well :-)