Following on from my last blog post it’s also a good time to assess the readiness of the community for the future. I blogged last year about the importance of community to the product, and I reiterate that importance. But that didn’t make any value judgement on the health of the community. It’s worth highlighting a few points:
- The community has lost some significant contributors over the last five or more years.
- The product lost some key contributors from IBM over that period. The likes of Stephan Wissel blogged a lot of technical enablement that was learned through his day job, technical evangelism wasn’t (as far as I am aware) a key part of his day job. Technical evangelism / developer advocacy was a key part of Nicklas Heidloff’s role and unfortunately for the product he was moved outside of ICS before HCL got involved. I have personal views in this area, but this that is not part of the scope of this blog post.
- The numbers of business partners has fallen, but the key focus of business partners is on their customers. That’s what keeps them in business. A wider focus can contribute, but is only ever a secondary focus.
- Certifications are out of date and, as in the past, the community will be a key part of any future certifications.
- The breadth of the product makes constructing those certification exams more challenging than ever before.
- Certifications require enablement to be in place first. That will be videos, samples, documentation and more.
- Enablement requires learning from those building the enablement.
- Hosting for enablement has not evolved much over the last five years.
- For NotesIn9, ICS is not a key focus of David Leedy’s day job, I accept that, respect it, and am nothing other than 100% thankful for the time he spent on it and his continued commitment to hosting the content.
- Although there are some new contributors of content, be it blogs, videos, samples etc, it is a trickle rather than a flood.
- The desire from product owners to work with the community is greater than ever.
The implications of this should be clear for all.
The numbers of those actively contributing to the community is probably lower than any time this century and has dwindled to a critical level, at a time when the demands over the coming years will be greater than ever.
Apart from a few individuals, the contributions on OpenNTF over the last two years have been few. The numbers of snippets added to OpenNTF snippets over the last two years is not good. Response to OpenNTF’s call for curators for Collaboration Today last year, for people to stand for the board last year and for people to get involved in a Project Steering Committee to modernise processes a couple of months ago was far from good. GitHub is a big repository for open source and Karsten Lehmann’s JNA project is a key one there as is DQL Explorer, but I’m not aware of a steady stream of others. The numbers of new videos over the last two years have been low. I’m aware of work from Graham Acres, Heiko Voigt and Roberto Boccadoro. Those who are driving things forward know who they are and know I value their work, their help, their support and their friendship.
But more people need to get involved.
Our community is currently too consumer-heavy, with too many demanding what they want and not enough contributing to support them. That places an unfair burden and impacts productivity. It’s clear everything that needs to be done. The opportunities are exciting and constantly tempting us in new directions. But there are only 24 hours in a day to fit in all the broad demands on time while keeping a healthy personal life and doing the day job.
Nearly ten years ago I saw an opportunity with XPages, tentatively started getting involved, and it led to a number of open source projects, a book, involvement in certification exams, involvement in shaping the product, involvement in shaping OpenNTF, some great friendships and a few honours.
It’s time for more to get involved, helping deliver improvement rather than criticising and calling on HCL to build what they want. A healthy community need a good balance of contributors of enablement and consumers. I believe we need to redress that balance.