Tag Archives: sumo

Marc Laporte coming to town

As many people already know, SUMO as a support web platform is built around open source software. For the knowledge base and forum, we use TikiWiki, an open-source PHP-based content management system. What fewer people might know is that SUMO is currently based on TikiWiki 1.10, which is almost two years old today. The latest version of TikiWiki is 3.1 and in only a couple of months 4.0 will be released.

This week, TikiWiki community lead/member Marc Laporte is paying me a quick visit in Eskilstuna, Sweden to discuss our current situation and to figure out what to do with SUMO. We have identified three potential plans:

  • Plan A: upgrade SUMO to TikiWiki 4.x. This is what I’m hoping we’ll be able to achieve. The question is how much work it means to get to 4.x and how much better things will be once we’re there.
  • Plan B: fork our current codebase and continue to add our own features on top of it. This is essentially what we’re doing today, and it’s not exactly ideal since we end up doing work in parallel with TikiWiki, and we’re wasting precious resources.
  • Plan C: migrade our content to another CMS, e.g. Drupal. By far the most costly effort in the short term, and not clear whether the benefits outweighs the investment cost.

Now that Marc and I have the opportunity to spend two full days working face to face, I’m hopeful that we can not only pick Plan A, but come up with a solid plan for the first few steps to make the plan a reality.

If you’re part of the SUMO or TikiWiki community, I would love to hear what you think and if you think there are things we should focus on discussing!

I fell in love with Geneva

It’s Midsummer Eve in Sweden and I finally got some time to reflect on the fantastic weekend I had in Geneva together with other members of the Mozilla community. I was there to lead a discussion about SUMO and community support, with a focus on sharing experiences between the five local communities represented: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Mozilla Italia on SUMO

The discussion started with Mozilla Italia sharing their experiences with community support, where they explained why they recently decided to switch entirely to SUMO. It was really insightful to hear their main reasons for using SUMO today. Among other things, they said that:

  • Outdated content is worse than lack of content
  • If your documentation isn’t easy to find or badly structured, there’s no point in having it
  • Good documentation requires consistency, quality, and precision

This is absolutely true and we are constantly working on those three points on SUMO, so I was glad to see that these values were shared with Mozilla Italia. I was very impressed that they took the time and energy to share these experiences with the other communities, who are all handling community support in different ways.

After the presentation, the floor was open for questions and discussions, after which Simone, Francesco and Giuliano passed on the torch to me to hold a discussion/presentation combo about SUMO in general. Among other things, I showed the many new features in SUMO — both implemented and still in the works. In total, the SUMO discussions went on for over an hour, and many interesting ideas came out of it.

Discussions

For example, we were discussing the best way to indicate in the search results that some of the content is only available in English. Should these English results be mixed together with the localized content, or should it be separated? Should we add labels specifying the language of the article? Should the behavior differ depending on locale? For example, in Germany, mixing English and German content isn’t as common as mixing Swedish and English content is in Sweden. Kadir pointed out that in Germany, the existence of English content on a German website can even lead to mistrust of the quality of the website.

GenevaAfter almost nine hours of discussions and presentations, it was time for us to explore Geneva and have dinner. I have to say that I fell in love with Geneva. It wasn’t just the nice weather or the beautiful buildings — there was something with the atmosphere that made walking around in the old town at night taking photos together with fellow Mozillians really, really enjoyable. I think everyone felt extra proud of being part of the Mozilla community that night.

In retrospect, I think that this inter-community meetup was one of the most successful Mozilla events I’ve attended to so far. The focus was on exchanging experiences and discussing, rather than passively watching other people’s presentations. It really worked very well to have a smaller group of people, as that made discussing various topics much easier. Also, William’s “no laptop rule” helped everyone stay focused on the purpose of the day rather than escaping into the wonderful world of bug filing, blogging, tweeting, and coding. :)

A huge thanks has to go to William for ensuring that the day was a true success. Big thumbs up from me, William! I would also like to thank Simone Lando, Giuliano Masseroni, and Francesco Lodolo from Mozilla Italia, for so openly sharing their experiences, pros, and cons about SUMO. It was incredibly helpful!

EU Inter-Community Meetup Tomorrow!

Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to Geneva for the first EU Inter-Community Meetup, arranged by no other than the hard-to-resist William Quiviger. I’m really looking forward to this event, which will focus on bringing together active communities from across Europe in the same city for a day of presentations, discussions and workshops. Also, I’ve never been in Geneva before (but I’m actually not sure if I’ve been in Switzerland… I have a vague memory of sitting in the back seat with my brother Manuel on the way to Spain, hearing our parents say “now we’re driving through Switzerland!” …but it could might as well have been Luxembourg, which seems like a more sensible route from Sweden to Spain)!

The communities attending are:

  • Mozilla Danmark (MozDK) represented by Hansen, Henrik Gemal and Jesper Kristensen
  • Mozilla France (MozFR) represented by Cedric Corazza, Goofy and Omnisilver
  • Mozilla Germany represented by Kadir Topal, Thomas Schwecherl and Michael Köhler
  • Mozilla Hispano represented by Nukeador, Francisco Picolini and Willyaranda
  • Mozilla Italia represented by Giuliano “jooliaan” Masseroni, Francesco “flod” Lodolo and Simone “Underpass” Lando

I’ll be leading a discussion about SUMO and community support in order to figure out how support is handled today, how these local support communities look like and differ from each other, and if and how SUMO is part of their solution.

My hope is that this meetup will allow us to learn from each other and improve our communication and collaboration. I’m sure we’ll also have time to discuss specifics in SUMO itself — for example, maybe there are things in SUMO that could be improved to make support easier?

Of course, I’m also looking forward to meeting many of the fellow European Mozillians again and have a good time together. :)

Luxembourg

Postcard from Luxembourg by snaiwedu.

Firefox 3.5 — Upgrading the web once again

If you haven’t already, be sure to visit the coolest sub-domain of mozilla.org so far: hacks.mozilla.org.

The site was created to demonstrate what will be possible to do in Firefox 3.5 using open technologies. That is, technologies that are part of web standards like JavaScript and HTML — not proprietary plugins owned by single companies like, say, Flash.

As many people know, Flash is by far the most popular plugin on the web today, where the most obvious example of a website using it is YouTube. Replacing Flash as the technology for playing videos on YouTube with modern, open web standards would actually be very straightforward. The only catch is that there are too many people using old browsers that are not supporting these web standards yet, like Internet Explorer.

One way of solving this would be if everyone switched to Firefox 3.5 as soon as it’s released a few weeks from now. Or, web sites could be designed so that both Flash and Open Video formats are supported during this transition period when people are upgrading their browsers. Incidentally, that’s exactly what SUMO will do

Anyway, I’m really impressed with what’s possible to do on the web today using just standards. My hope is that web developers will start to utilize these new, powerful, and fully open technologies to accelerate the advancement of the web even further.

My favorite technology demo so far is Content Aware Image Resizing. It just blows me away that a thing like that is possible with just JavaScript!

Be sure to upgrade your browser when Firefox 3.5 is released. Not just because it will be the fastest Firefox yet, but because it will make the whole web better.

Mozilla Sweden Meetup — det BLEV kul!

After arriving safely in Skövde for The 5th International Conference on Open Source Systems (more on that later), I finally had some time to reflect on the Swedish Mozilla Meetup event in Stockholm last Tuesday, which was a fantastic opportunity to meet with enthusiastic Swedish Mozilla community members and others that were still just curious about our project and what we do to help promote the open web.

Tomcat's QA presentation There were four presentations during the event, where I was one of the presenters. I talked about community-powered support and SUMO, including the unique challenges Mozilla has with user support of a very popular open source product, and the importance of localization.

The artist currently known as Tomcat gave a presentation about Mozilla QA and the many opportunities that exist for people to participate. One of our Swedish community members — incidentally also a Bruce Willis cloneRobert Nyman walked us through the process of creating an extension for Firefox that replaced all headings on web pages with the titles of the popular Die Hard movies. Finally, Mozilla’s European community marketing star William increased everyone’s excitement of the imminent launch of Firefox 3.5 by demonstrating various ways we can all help with community marketing to further promote Firefox, open standards, Mozilla, and our mission. Interestingly, some people in the audience didn’t even know that Mozilla had a marketing team in the first place!

The slides of all presentations can be found on the meetup wiki page. I rarely put a lot of text on my slides anymore and instead use images and illustrations as a compliment to the actual “verbal delivery” of the presentation, so my deck may or may not be very useful in itself.

A big, big thanks goes to our favorite Liverpool native and Eskilstuna resident Patrick Finch for organizing this first Mozilla Sweden meetup event. Although I offered to work with him on it from the very beginning, being the hard-working, independent, and professional person that he is, he just took the project and ran with it — and as usual, it turned out incredibly well.

Photos from the event can be found on Flickr under the stomozcom tag.

Bli en del av Mozilla Sverige!

Är du intresserad av Mozilla och planerar att bli (eller kanske redan är!) mer involverad i Mozillas community? Kom till Stockholm imorgon kväll, tisdagen den 2 juni kl 18:00 och träffa några av oss för att lära dig mer! Eventet är fritt för alla, men vi har dock en gräns på 50 personer som kan komma.

Vi hoppas att vi kan lära oss mer av hur den svenska Mozilla-communityn ser ut idag och vad vi kan göra för att få den att växa. Jag kommer att hålla en kort presentation om projektet jag ansvarar för — SUMO, eller support.mozilla.com, eller Firefox Support om du så vill. Det finns massor av sätt att bli involverad i SUMO-projektet så om du är intresserad av det ska du definitivt komma!

Från min kära vän och väldigt lokala Eskilstunakollega Patricks blog:

I am very excited to announce that we will hold a Mozilla get-together on the evening of June 2nd, starting at 6pm at the delightful offices of bwin games in Stockholm.  You can register here.

We will be at the offices of bwin games, Klarabergsviadukten 82, Stockholm.

Coming up: FOSDEM 2009

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since the last (and my first) time I visited Brussels for FOSDEM 2008! Although I have considered myself part of Mozilla since 2002, FOSDEM 2008 was the first physical Mozilla event I ever attended to, and it was just awesome! I can’t wait to go there again this weekend.

I hope to be able to achieve a number of things during this year’s event:

  • Meet with as many SUMO localizers as possible to figure out how we can make the process of localizing SUMO clearer and more straightforward. We’ve been talking about this a lot within the SUMO team, and as we’ve shared in the roadmap, we hope to address that with the SUMO 1.0 milestone. If you’re a SUMO localizer and will attend to FOSDEM, please let me know!
  • Meet some of the TikiWiki developers to figure out how our l10n plans align with theirs and whether or not we could work together on this (Marc: I’m looking at you! :) )
  • Discuss the proposed SUMO 1.0 plan with l10n drivers like Seth, Axel, and Pascal, to ensure we’re on the same page about what needs to be done.
  • Sit down with John Slater to discuss the start page optimizations chofmann, Slater and I were initiating back in November (see blog post from early December) and figure out the next steps. We already have some ideas that originates from research mentioned in bug 381877.
  • Sit down even more with John Slater (hopefully with Tara on the line) to come up with a plan for the next phase of the SUMO logo.
  • Get drunk? We shall see…

Visualizing your thoughts as art

Jane sent an e-mail about a word cloud generator that can take something like a web page or a block of text as input and automatically generate a beautiful word cloud. I’m currently working with Laura on the SUMO development roadmap for 2009, based on the Vision for SUMO blog series I posted back in September. Here’s an artistic view of the work in progress:

Expect to read more about our plans for 2009 shortly on the SUMO Blog.

MozCamp 2008 slides

Watch the slides from Kadir’s and my SUMO presentation at Mozilla Camp Europe 2008.

Because of the many animations and objects in the slides, this static HTML version of them don’t do the presentation justice. Also, I intentionally used mostly images and not much text, so it’s probably hard to understand this without the audio. William says the video recordings of the presentations should be available shortly, so stay tuned for that!

Finally back from MozCamp and Barcelona

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being part of the first Mozilla Camp Europe event, this year held in Barcelona, Spain. I was there to, among other things, clear up some of the misunderstandings about SUMO we’ve seen among some European community members. MozCamp was a perfect opportunity to address this, and I was very excited that Abdulkadir Topal from the German Mozilla community wanted to co-host this session with me. Kadir recently met with the German Mozilla community in Köln, where it became clear that not everyone knew why SUMO existed, or which problems the project is trying to solve, or that SUMO is not competing with local support communities.

Me and Kadir
Kadir and I at MozCamp 2008. Photo (c) Brian King.

Kadir and I had lots of fun preparing and giving this session, and I’m really thankful that he wanted to do this with me. I think it helped making people understand why SUMO is important for everyone. For those that didn’t attend the session, I’ll upload slides shortly, and I also believe the session was filmed and will be available to view online sometime next week.

MozCamp was really amazing. I had so much fun talking to fellow Mozillians and meeting some SUMO contributors for the first time. I especially would like to call out Wim Benes (Frisian localizer) and Simone Lando (Italian localizer). I’ve had lots of contact with these two amazing guys over the last 12 months, and it was great to finally meet them in real life.

And of course, it’s always a pleasure to meet face to face with the people you interact with online, both contributors and employees. There were so many people I was looking forward to meeting again, including Seth Bindernagel, Chris Hofmann, William, Jane, Mark Finkle, Life of Brian, Tomcat, Clint, Stas, Gandalf. Then there were people I hadn’t really interacted much with before that were really fun to hang out with, like Christian of Fennec fame (jeg kjenner vad jeg kjenner!), Matjaž Horvat, and Toni Hermoso Pulido. I probably missed a few people… Sorry!

Big congratulations to the people who worked hard on making MozCamp 2008 a huge success. I really can’t wait for the next!