[xwiki-devs] Back to the future of XWiki !

Andreas Hahn ahahn at gmx.net
Sun Mar 6 22:52:45 UTC 2011

Hi Ludovic,

thanks a lot for your comprehensive response.

The motivation of my response to the thread you have initiated was to 
get better feelings about the ongoing continuity and the direction of 
the xwiki product.
First of all I'd like to better understand the relation between XWiki 
SAS and the XWiki community.
As I see it more than 90% percent of the regular committers are 
employees of XWiki SAS.

This means the vitality of the Xwiki OpenSource directly depends on the 
health of XWiki SAS. You might think this shouldn't bother users as this 
is free software.
Now after 30 years in IT-industry I have seen quite some products rise 
and fall and in 2 cases have suffered from that. So the financial 
background of a supplier - or understanding its business model - is a 
natural interest for me when beginning to spend time and resources on it.

Looking at the public material on the homepage of xwiki.com, xwiki.org 
the discussions on the boards their focus and priorities the 
testimonials and claims I doubt that there is a positive cashflow of 
revenues somehow related to the Xwiki software. Reading between the 
lines of your postings it seems that also vision has got lost somehow.

I don't mean to be offending - I just try to understand the motivation 
and/or business model behind it to get a better feeling about the risk 
of this project being discontinued suddenly.

So far its my impression that the project is financed by some sort of 
generous patronage - maybe like Mark Shuttleworth of Canoncial who 
became a happy and generous sponsor of Ubuntu Linux after selling his 
I'd be happy to hear your comment on that ;)

Now for the targets.

a) If (in contrast to the above) there is a need to make some (more) 
money in a reasonable timeframe I'd go and copycat the atlassian way. 
AFAIK they are joining forces with some industry heavy weights. I think 
I remember having read about SAP selling confluence licences and 
services as a complemantary offer to SAP's existing user base. No 
surprise that atlassian claims having almost 10.000 installations. If 
you are interested in this topic I'd write more about what opportunities 
I can imagine here and what steps can be taken. Of course - developing a 
business like this is nothing that developers could do as a side job.

b) Succeeding as OpenSource simply by the quality of the software looks 
far more complicated to me. Blogging software, CMS, wikis - they all are 
competing for the attention of publishers and there is quite some 
overlap in functionality - if not in the end they all will be the same. 
As long as XWiki is not installed by webhosters it means that users have 
to install the service of their own. Only companies with IT-department 
and people with IT background can do that which is a severe reduction of 
the potential user base. But bringing 'collaboration' software to 
companies is more than a technical issue. Management is involved as it 
needs to be confident that their companies knowledge is not being shared 
with the wrong people. You need to build a reputation first to get there 
- or you are joining forces with other companies that already know the 
customer and have that reputation see a) Atlassian/SAP - this seems to 
be far more easy than b) to me.

Beside all the mentioned features - I think an (the most) important one 
has not even been mentioned.
Simplify individual design of wiki pages. For example by making it sort 
of compatible with page layout software like Artisteer.
I have been mentioning it a couple of times and I know I'm getting 
boring now so please read my old postings on it.
Its *not* a solution to extend the presentation admin form to support 
more options.

Besides - I think that there are also some other simple things that help 
better promoting the software -
- doing a video like this one 
- reconsider communication with users through a more widely recognized 
media instead of the mailing list (for example stackoverflow.com)

I'd be interested in ongoing  discussion on all of this but please 
understand it might take a while until i find the time to respond.


Am 04.03.2011 21:27, schrieb Ludovic Dubost:
> Hi Andreas,
> Thanks for your email. This is actually good material and we need more 
> of it.
> As Jerome pointed out, I never said in my email I would go back to 
> development.
> My objective is too involve myself in the "product definition" which 
> means making a better product which fits more the market needs.
> I believe it has the objective to help us get XWiki less a "niche" 
> product and making it more mainstream.
> If it means that we need to work on packaged distribution let's do it. 
> If it means working on distribution this goes beyond "Product 
> Marketing", though I'm also interested into that.
> I'm also getting more involved in XWiki SAS marketing and while we 
> have spend the XWiki SAS marketing efforts more into showing a 
> 'professional' face to potential customers, we plan to invest more 
> time in open source marketing. As Vincent points outs this is also a 
> collective effort as there is nobody better than our committers to get 
> XWiki known in the tech world.
> I think we also need to clearly define out target. You mention 
> "wordpress" but even if we can do some things that wordpress is used 
> for, this is not what we are good at, and wordpress does not do what 
> XWiki does.
> As Jerome pointed out, XWiki is about "collaboration". That's our 
> market. That's what XWiki is good at. It's not any kind of 
> collaboration, as XWiki's way of collaboration is different than what 
> people have been used to.
> If we try to compare our "reach" with CMSs we will always loose, since 
> these tools build public web sites and this automatically extend their 
> reach.
> I think we need to focus on making XWiki known to people interested in 
> collaboration, interested in bringing their organization to that type 
> of collaboration.
> It's a collaboration that is:
> - social
> - a mix of unstructured and structured
> - flexible
> Making XWiki more known for that requires both more "distribution" and 
> "communication" as you mentionned, but I also believes it requires 
> more work on our end on XWiki itself.
> Not more work to start a "feature" frenzy, but to improve XWiki to 
> more democratize it, simplify it for newcomers, making it's powerfull 
> features more accessible to newcomers.
> For example, one of the most powerfull feature of XWiki since day 1, 
> is it's internal Class/Object system which allows to create new data 
> structures from the web. Unfortunately this feature requires a too 
> steep learning curve.
> "App Within Minute" is not a NEW feature. It's the Class/Object system 
> XWiki should always have had.
> Another example, "Dashboards". Dashboards is not a completely NEW 
> feature. It's THE "modern" way of configuring a home page for basic 
> users.
> I know we have plenty of "quality" refinements to do in XWiki, but we 
> also have plenty of refinements to do that will complete XWiki for 
> it's "purpose", and for what it's differentiated from other tools.
> I'm very open to discuss more what we can do both in the product and 
> in distribution and communication to make XWiki more popular and 
> widespread.
> You mentionned I was talking only about "features", and I supposed you 
> refer to the "feature" survey. Actually the current "feature survey" 
> did include "VM" distribution.
> So maybe we should extend the "feature survey" into an "effort 
> survey", to actually discuss what we should spend our effort on for 
> XWiki.
> So if you or others have ideas on what we should spend our effort on, 
> please bring them on.
> Ludovic
> Le 04/03/11 10:48, Andreas Hahn a écrit :
>> Hi,
>> I'm a bit surprised that you are just talking about features and not
>> about moving from a niche product to get more mainstream.
>> When I'm saying niche product I'm just referring to what google 
>> trends says.
>> http://www.google.com/trends?q=xwiki%2C+foswiki%2C+twiki%2C+confluence
>> Well I think that almost all people on this mailing list like xwiki a
>> lot and the hard and devoted work the developers are doing and all wish
>> xwiki and its backing company all the best and a long and prosperous 
>> future.
>> However I'm concerned when reading that the XWiki SAS 'Product
>> Marketing' lead (and CEO) thinks that it helps the product to get more
>> involved as a developer.
>> IMHO a product marketing lead should have totally different priorities.
>> IMHO its a misconception to think that more features will help the
>> product to attract a greater audience.
>> Just a few things that come to my mind:
>> * Push xwiki into as many linux distros as possible with 'one click
>> installers'
>> * Create ready-to-go images for popular cloud hosters (such as Amazon 
>> EC2)
>> * Talk to as much hosters and push them to introduce XWiki as part of
>> their offerings.
>> * Make it simple and attractive for people currently using other
>> software (Wordpress comes to my mind) to move to the more powerful XWiki
>> I may be paranoid but I wonder if we will see XWiki survive the next
>> couple of years if its not gaining momentum in the big world.
>> just my 2 cents
>> Andreas
>> Am 03.03.2011 14:21, schrieb Ludovic Dubost:
>>> Hi all,
>>> As many of you may know, 7 years ago, I created the XWiki Open-Source
>>> software.  A few years ago, especially when Vincent arrived, I took a
>>> step back from development of the XWiki product to focus on
>>> developping XWiki SAS which allows to support the XWiki development.
>>> I've particularly spent my time making sure that the deployments of
>>> XWiki our Customers have been doing are successfull. I've left the
>>> product development work to committers who under the lead of Vincent
>>> have done amazing work in the last few years. We have provided some
>>> product marketing in addition through Guillaume's and lately Gregory's
>>> work which allowed to bring some feedback from users and customers and
>>> also bring a different less technical perspective to the XWiki Product
>>> development. Cati also joined the team and allowed us to make huge
>>> steps forward in product usability and design.
>>> Now, as XWiki SAS's project implementation team is doing great work on
>>> it's own, I've decided to involve myself more in the future of XWiki's
>>> product. I'm now the new XWiki SAS 'Product Marketing' head which
>>> means I will involve myself in community discussions about the product
>>> features actively developped, investigated for future development as
>>> well as in general discussions about the XWiki Software's future. I
>>> will try to bring the knowledge that XWiki SAS's customer, project
>>> managers, support team bring us from using XWiki in production
>>> environments to the community so that we make better decisions, more
>>> focused on developments that will allow to increase XWiki's success
>>> with end users. At XWiki SAS we have already done a lot of work to
>>> organize this feedback so that we know more things that XWiki SAS's
>>> developers and the XWiki community should work on.
>>> In the next few weeks you will therefore see me work on the
>>> investigations of future features as well as work more closely with
>>> developers whenever they feel the need on the features they implement
>>> actively. I will also manage the different surveys we have done in the
>>> past to gather feedback from our community. These surveys have still
>>> been running on the xwiki.org web site although they are now quite
>>> outdated. I will propose to review them and launch them again.
>>> If users or developers have any feedback about XWiki, about what we
>>> should work on in priority, please do send that feedback on the list
>>> (preferably). Although we have a much bigger list of great ideas than
>>> what we currently can achieve, you can help us on helping us select
>>> the most important ones that will make a difference.
>>> I would like to use this occasion to thank our great community of
>>> developers and users who help the committers every day to make XWiki
>>> better. We could not do this without all the suggestions, ideas,
>>> patches that our community provides.
>>> Thanks
>>> Ludovic
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>>> devs at xwiki.org
>>> http://lists.xwiki.org/mailman/listinfo/devs
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