From June 12th to 13th 2010, the first Symphony developer conference took place in London, UK. Coming from all over the world, we met to get to know each other, to talk about Symphony and to see the core team’s plans for the future. Time for a review.
It was an exciting weekend for various reasons. Exciting to meet the people behind the forum nicknames. Faces, voices, persons. Exciting to see this charming online community called Symphony in real. I was impressed by the spiritedness, the cheerfulness and the fun. For me the words Symphony and sympathy have been linked together in real life.
The weekend started early on Friday when Johanna and I left for the airport at 3:15 am in the morning. The first meeting with Michael in the lobby of the hotel followed by Stephen, Jonas, Nils (the other one) and Ruth in the evening. Eating pizza and pasta, having a pint of beer, mixing up languages all the time. The official programme followed the next day while meeting the other Symphony members: Marco and Maurizio form Italy, John, Fazal, Nick, Carl from the London area and of course Allen, Craig and Joe as the hosts of the event.
The warm welcome and introduction by Allen and Craig was followed by a number of presentations highlighting Symphony’s capabilities and showing what we may expect to see in the future.
- Nick gave an overview of Airlock’s last years projects. It was impressing to see the complexity and robustness of their Symphony implementations. Airlock seems to “love the adventure” and presented creative ways to use Symphony. Nick’s slides can be downloaded on his site.
- Stephen dug into Symphony’s history. Why do we have events? Why do we need frontend editing? Somehow it was always Stephen who came up with new ideas for the core while trying to recreate the back-end using Symphony.
- Michael previewed his long awaited Email Newsletter Extension. A complex project if you keep in mind the difficulties to create markup that works in all the different mail applications (welcome to Stone Age!) as well as the server side requirements.
- Marco showed an eye-catcher: the Symphony Builder, an extension allowing the creation of Symphony installs on the fly using a web interface. Adding extensions was just a one-click action. In the meantime, Builder has been released as an ensemble and extension.
- Finally, Johanna and I presented a project we have been working on for a long time and which found a new form for the Symposium: Pompodium, a free, magazine-style Symphony ensemble. This ensemble was the initial reason to create Mediathek and finally the Subsection Manager. Further information is available on pompodium.de.
The awaited surprise
Leading up to the Symposium, it became silent on GitHub. The core team’s working repositories for Symphony 2.1 vanished so we could expect something to happen, a beta release during the weekend which - by all means - would be accompanied by the final release of Symphony 2.0.8.
Things worked out differently.
Symphony 2.1’s new name is Symphony 3 which will introduce a more file based system structure and the usage of
DOMDocument throughout the core. I’m still not entirely sure if I consider the step reasonable to directly jump from 2.0 to 3.0. On the one hand I think the new features have been overdue for a while, but the version numbers become more and more illogical and the release cycle becomes confusing and unsteady. We have to expect a clear break between version 2 and 3 which is problematic as it was when switching between Symphony 1.7 and 2.0: as both systems will not be compatible to each other, it will become hard for developers to maintain two separate branches of their extensions in the long run. It’s an ambivalent step for the documentation as well: we now have a corner stone we should build on in a solid way. But will this still be done now that most of the core concepts have to be redefined? I’m torn apart but it will be exciting to see things evolving.
The first Symposium offered a fascinating weekend with little sleep but lots of talk. I hope that the ideas to create international development networks will push the collaboration to a new level.
When shall we meet again?
A Symposium in Germany?
How about that?