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 ;-)

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 !!