Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 02:38:53 -0600
From: Ken Pooley firstname.lastname@example.org
To: MWS email@example.com
Subject: MWS #56...Ami & Alexander at OSDEM, Henri Interview,
Work is progressing on 1.4.1, a beta should be available around
the 31st of January. In the mean time I have an interview with
Henri, now that he is back from his stint with the Finnish Army he
is ready to push Midgard on to bigger and better things. One of the
first things Henri undertook upon returning to his Midgard life was
the start of a conversation about what the Midgard-project website
should do. Part of that discussion includes the start of an ongoing
discussion of an evolving requirements document on Paul Newby's
Commentext website. Http://www.CommenText.org made its official
debut last fall and is the subject of our other article this
Ami and Alexander will appear at OSDEM, February 3 & 4.
Be in Brussels February 3 and 4 and get the scoop on Midgard.
An Interview with Henri Bergius.
Bergie is back from the Army and he likes what he has found.
CommenText, discussions with a history.
Built on a Midgard engine CommenText allows for a document to be read and
refined by the community.
Ami and Alexander will appear at OSDEM, February 3 & 4.
The Open Source and Free Software Developer's meeting will include
our own Ami Ganguli talking about Midgard 2.0 and Alexander Bokovoy
talking about i18n and presenting Midgard 1.4. For more information
go to http://www.osdem.org.
An Interview with Henri Bergius.
Henri Bergius is one of the founding fathers of the Midgard
Project and he is the chairman of the non-profit Midgard Ry, the
owning entity of Midgard. Last summer Bergie left the Midgard world
to serve as a Corporal in the Finnish Army, working in an anti-tank
reconnaissance unit. It was a tough time to be away from Midgard
Aurora entered the picture, much 1.4 was written and documentation
efforts were in high gear. At the same time, however, there is a
great deal to be said for getting away, far away in this case, from
a project to get a fresh perspective. This is not meant to be a
comprehensive state of the project interview, more just a chance to
look at what we have been working on with eyes that have been a
littler further away from the keyboard for a while.
Q. So...do you get cool toys to play with when you do the
military service thing? Do you get to keep anything? Some nifty
durable clothes, things to drive over other things?
HB: Sure, we had our selection of toys in the anti-tank
training, ranging from bazookas to machine guns and missiles.
However, I was in a recon patrol, and so never got to launch a live
We didn't get to keep much, except berets and corporal's rank
badges. Thanks to the Finnish military service system, we'll get
the chance to participate in repetitive exercises every couple of
years, and run in the woods with assault rifles a bit more.
Q. I know you have had some contact with the world in general
and even Midgard from time to time but looking at the application
fresh what do you think? Are things you would have done differently
from the start? Are there choices that have proven to be pretty
HB: What I'm very happy with is that the community has been able
to continue development work towards the goals defined in the
Midgard developer meeting in Paris last June. The 1.4 release was
handled pretty well, and generally Midgard has evolved to be more
easily installable and usable, thanks to the efforts of people
involved in packaging and documentation work.
Of course, there are things that could, and possibly should have
been done differently. Mostly these are with communicating with
other free software projects. We should have been more open on our
approaches with PHP right from the start, and this has caused
problems with getting new PHP versions to work with Midgard.
Then again, the overall mixture of software we use to support
Midgard, including Apache, MySQL and PHP, has proven to be very
effective. If we would have had to write any of those components
ourselves, Midgard would probably never have existed.
Q. How much involvement have you had with the planning for
Midgard 2.0? What are your thoughts about where it is headed?
HB: I see Midgard 2 as a generic application server library that
can be used to implement specific application servers, like a
content management system. The Midgard 2 kernel provides services
like object storage, replication and scripting languages, and then
the application server implementation provides the objects and
workflow items that an application developer works with.
Besides the base libraries, we will need Midgard also to contain
a CMS implementation that is backwards compatible with the Midgard
Since I'm not really a systems programmer, I see myself having
only a limited level of involvement in the development work towards
the 2.0 release. Where I'm going to work, though, is in providing
coordination and evangelization help to the actual development
Q. What role will you have in the short and long term
HB: In the short term, I'll be working with other volunteers in
the community to create a new, more functional Web site for the
project. The site is a central information resource that both our
users and developers can use as a means of getting information and
On a longer term, I expect to be working with businesses to ease
their entry to the Midgard space. This will include evangelizing
their management on how Open Source, and specifically the Midgard
community works, and also helping their technical teams to get into
the development projects.
Q. What role does the Midgard Ry have in those goals? How will
the Ry exert itself in the development process?
HB: The role of The Midgard Project association is to act as a
guardian for Midgard's licensing and copyrights. This is by far the
single most important role MPRy has, since we need to assure all
project contributors that their contributions will stay freely
available, and that the project continues to operate in the free
Besides this, MPRy also helps companies operating in the Midgard
space to validate their efforts by being able to use a 'Midgard
Project supporter' badge in their communications. We understand
that business involvement is vital to a successful Open Source
project, and so seek to make the Midgard development process
approachable to companies interested in contributing.
We also work to provide the Midgard community with the network
resources needed for the development work. This includes working
out sponsorship deals to acquire servers and network connectivity
to run our CVS, Web and mailing list services.
Q.What do you think the state of Midgard is?
HB: With 1.4 out, and 1.4.1 coming, Midgard is in a really good
state. Once we don't rely on a patched PHP4, we should be ready for
inclusion into Linux distributions.
I've already done some application development on top of Midgard
1.4, and it contains a huge number of improvements over the old
1.2.x series. Big things that help developers are Repligard, BLOBs,
and OOP-style data handling.
Also, the community seems to be in a very good shape. We have
lots of active contributors around the world, and several companies
are sponsoring the development by having their employees to
contribute to Midgard.
Commentext: documents and discussions with a history.
Henri Bergius announced last week that a discussion about the
requirements for the new Midgard-project could be found at http://www.Commentext.org.
Officially made live in October, 2000,Commentext is a adaptation of
Midgard, written by Paul Newby. Commentext allows users to comment
and create a comment history around a central document, thereby
extending and pushing the evolution and growth of the document in
As the Commentext website says: "Too often, good answers and
ideas are presented only to vanish into the archives. Enthusiasm is
drained by the need to repeatedly resurrect and rebuild carefully
constructed and thoughtful dialog. The goal of Commentext is to
transform this often fragmented and forgetful process into one of
knowledge retention and accumulation through the evolution of
structured content linked directly to dialog."
The idea is to create a community discussion with a record of
the course of that discussion. Unlike a normal conversation, or
even an e-mail thread, the entire history of the conversation is
there to be referred back to and, if needed, learned from. There
are also versions of documents possible with e-mail notification as
new versions, or variations, are created in the system. Commentext
is at once a departure and an extension of the original vision of
the Midgard project's goals. Commentext uses the traditional site,
group and content framework for site management, content management
and database functionality. There are some additions to the core
Midgard application including PHPLIB for session support and a
forms validation class which comes from Manuel Lemos.
The future of Commentext is on one hand tied to the future of
Midgard 2.0 and the new capabilities it will bring, and, on the
other hand, driven by Newby's desire to make the system easier to
use and more powerful in its ability drive the growth of a
document. One direction in recent development efforts has been a
move to strengthen a participant's ability to visualize the
structure of a document and the relationships between the linked
dialog and the structure of the content.
Newby is working on getting a version of Commentext ready for
distribution. At that time there will be a great opportunity for
the whole Midgard community to make suggestions and volunteer for
further refinement of the code. Like many of the new additions to
Midgard over the last year, Commentext is a great addition to the
community and a great testament to the vitality of the project.
Midgard 1.4 is a content publishing tool for small and medium
sized sites. It is based on Apache, MySQL and PHP. The application
and its documentation are licensed GPL, LGPL and GFDL. This
licensing strategy guarantees that developers, webmasters, ISPs,
and business managers are investing in a strategy where they're
free to share solutions and participate in the application design.
The Midgard Weekly Summary is a bi-weekly newsletter for the
Midgard user and developer community, as well as the extended web
community. If you would like to release it or publish it, please
contact Ken Pooley
Midgard mailing list.
The Midgard mailing list is one of the most vital and visible
aspects of the Midgard Community. Questions get answered,
suggestions debated and work gets done.
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