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Annual report 2010-2011


Approved at the previous General Assembly, the ServasOnline project had the objective of providing the Servas hospex with an online component that would be interoperable with BeWelcome.

Most of the work was done by email and through VoIP.

The first VoIP conference took place mid July 2010 and helped both parties brief each other on each other's system. Several VoIP discussions followed. One of the main discussed issue was the Servas database is not global for example, but broken down in countries, which is a technical difficulty. It is not easy to find a way to gather these data under the same system.

End of August, a structure is given to the project, along with leadership, teams, fundraising and the need for a jump-starting coding week-end.

The project met with quite big administratory problems - the several parts of the project could not agree on a path to take, and the result was disagreement and unsolved discussions without any actual progress.

A plan was agreed in in September to produce a "prototype" for ServasOnline that would first require a documentation to be created for Rox. Given the lack of volunteer interest in writting up such documentation, it was suggested that Servas could hire external help.

In October, it was consider hiring contractors, with Servas funds, for the production of the prototype. There was some resistance on the BW side to the fact of having code produced by contractors.

The validity of extending Rox was more and more put to stress. Rox is not easy to enter for new programmers. We entered the discussion about switching the platform (switch to Drupal)

For now, the ServasOnline project, based on BeWelcome ressource is a frozen project. They are still few contacts between people but no official schedule. Servas is also triying to explore other solutions.

Drupal migration

While the ServasOnline talk on Rox was undergoing, the Servas-side coordinator started a discussion on our dev mailing list on the relevance of switching platform before moving on with ServasOnline. The Rox situation was then pretty dire, with only a few developers available only for emergency fixes. The argument was made that being based on a standard platform would enable more developers to start hacking fast, as well as being a motivation for existing developers, knowing that the code they produce is much more likely to be reused.

The discussion was 40 posts long and spanned 2 months, from august to october 2010. A developper survey was quick to follow. The aim of that survey was to have an overview of the skills bewelcome had at hand. Drupal came ahead of that survey with great margins. This was taken as a consensual decision to attempt a port to drupal.

One developper started a test site using the not-yet-released drupal 7. While this decision was not disputed (developars know the pains of upgrading a website from one version of a framework to the next), the unavailability of modules for this version, as well as their unstability, was a great hit on the momentum. Most of the feature development were blocked because we were waiting for a key module to be ported to drupal 7.

Drupal officially released one month later and modules have been slowly been ported by their original maintainers, allowing us to get closer and closer to being able to replicate the website. In August, a BW dev weekend was set up in Berlin to restart work on the drupal port.

It has since then been going on, only to be disturbed (for the better) by an influx of new developers recently fleeing CS in september, after the former non-profit turned corporate.

New team structure

Following this event, many new developers are hanging out with the team, and the old team structure, or lack thereof, was questioned. In october, a dev-team meeting was set up on IRC and was extremely conclusive for a 2h talk. Structure-wise, the coordinatorless team found itself 4 new coordinators.

  • Meinhard: infrastructure coordinator
  • Jean-Yves: Rox coordinator
  • Kasper: Drupal coordinator
  • Julien: Community communication

And since then, the people mentioned above have done a pretty amazing job at being amazing. Meinhard spearheaded the new safe commit system, Jean-Yves has been fixing Rox, Kasper has been very active on the drupal port and Julien is out there on the forum, wasting his life away.