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Midgard Weekly Summary for January 26, 2001 (#56)

Jan 26, 2001, 07:44 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ken Pooley)

Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 02:38:53 -0600
From: Ken Pooley kpooley@sewanee.edu
To: MWS mws@midgard-project.org
Subject: MWS #56...Ami & Alexander at OSDEM, Henri Interview, Commentext


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 week.


Editor's Note

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
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 TOW missile.

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 good?

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 1.x series.

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 work.

Q. What role will you have in the short and long term development process?

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 communication.

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 software spirit.

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 question.

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.

About Midgard

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. ->

About MWS

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

Previous issues of Midgard Weekly Summary can be found archived at the Midgard web site. -> http://www.midgard-project.org/topic/169.html

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. E-mail:midgard@greywolves.org

Places to see Midgard in Action:

-More to come