[xwiki-devs] XWiki.org vs XWiki.com (was Re: Back to the future of XWiki !)

Vincent Massol vincent at massol.net
Mon Mar 7 08:08:32 UTC 2011

On Mar 6, 2011, at 11:52 PM, Andreas Hahn wrote:

> 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.

Some pointers that should give you a good idea on this relationship:

* All xwiki open source project rules are defined on this wiki: http://dev.xwiki.org
* http://massol.myxwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Blog/XWikiSASAndOpenSource
* XWikI SAS Manifesto: http://www.xwiki.com/xwiki/bin/view/About/Manifesto
* XWiki SAS Who we are: http://www.xwiki.com/xwiki/bin/view/Company/WhoWeAre
* http://xwiki.markmail.org/thread/vy6wgx3m5nibj4sy
* Recent thread on download page illustrating how decisions happen: http://xwiki.markmail.org/thread/arqq457lnppirw7d
* A presentation I did on XWiki.org vs XWiki SAS: http://www.slideshare.net/vmassol/paris-jug-second-anniversary

To summarize: there's **no** relationship between XWiki SAS and the xwiki open source project. The open source project is made only of individuals (committers) who decide the direction of the project. In addition each committer has a veto vote which means it needs only one committer not from xwiki SAS to block something that is not "right" for the project.

Now obviously a lot of committers are from XWiki SAS so in practice a lot of what committers are pushing is XWiki SAS's vision but that's the same for any open source project. It's always people who do stuff that control the direction of the project. What's important for me is that xwiki open source project is governed by meritocratic rules, which means that anyone can participate and will have the exact same power as others, be them from xwiki SAS or not.

BTW the hard part is that once a contributor/committer has been participating for some time, XWiki SAS usually proposes to this person to be paid for what he's doing, thus making him an XWiki SAS employee and reducing the ratio of committers not from XWiki SAS ;) But that's a good thing since it means more sponsoring for the open source project and thus better quality of the project as a whole.

Again the important part is being honest and I believe the rules we currently have enforces this.

> 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.

Yes but that's true for any open source project. The vitality always comes from the people who work the most on projects. Even on ASF projects.

Now I'm 100% positive that if the XWiki SAS were to close its doors the project would live on, because it's a healthy project with healthy community and healthy rules.

> 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.

Actually the best way for you to ensure that XWiki open source project remains independent to the maximum is to invest in it to counter balance XWiki SAS's "influence". You have all rights to do this according to the xwiki open source project governance rules :)

That investment can be done with time, money, resources, etc.

Denis Gervalle is a good example (he's from Softec a company who's business is quite linked to that of the xwiki open source project - AFAIU, denis please correct me if it's wrong).

> 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.

Not sure I understand this. XWiki SAS has a positive cashflow, I believe softec too. And I'm sure a lot of other contributors who use xwiki in their daily jobs also have such a positive cashflow.

> Reading between the 
> lines of your postings it seems that also vision has got lost somehow.

Could you be more specific, I don't understand this point?

> 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.

Personally I don't believe there's any risk seen:
* the open source nature, its clean license (LGPL)
* the open community that exists

> 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 
> startup.
> I'd be happy to hear your comment on that ;)

Great thoughts below but I'd like to limit my reply to the XWiki.com vs XWiki.org, and keep the thread on the roadmap separated.

BTW Ludovic here has no more power than anyone else. He's just proposing/suggesting ideas. His ideas will need to go through a proposal/vote at some point and the xwiki open source rules applies. Ludovic was just being fair by giving his motivations from the point of view of XWiki SAS.


> 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 
> http://www.atlassian.com/software/confluence/videos/overview.jsp
> - 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.
> Andreas
> 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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