Time of challenges

517 days since the release of J!Research 1.1.x, lots of users and two new collaborators are a good summary for this development phase for which I intend to derive some lessons as well as the challenges for the next one.

Even though my initial intention was to have short-period releases, our daily occupations and the fact that most of our work is 100% voluntary prevented to achieve this goal. But let's see it from an optimistic perspective: Five completely divergent and unsynchronized schedules have driven the project to its third major release which includes a huge list of changes and improvements proposed by a growing list of users. This sounds certainly awesome but rises a question: can we do better? As project author and leader, my major challenge is to optimize my colleagues will and commitment in such a way that things move faster and I do not end up doing all the work. Honestly I feel I have not done it optimally and my compromise for next stage is to find better ways to motivate them and exploit their enthusiasm taking into account our very limited time availability. It sounds like the Linear Optimizations problems have been torturing me this semester :P

Joomla! 1.6 development status poses another challenge. By the time of this blog entry we are in Beta 6. I do not know the exact release date but everything suggests it is very soon, therefore our extension has to provide support for this new version in the short-term. Here the challenge is not to deliver J!Research 2.0 on time for new Joomla! release but before its massive adoption starts to represent a risk for our position as the only research management solution for Joomla!. I wonder if it can have the inverse effect and cataliyze community interest to contribute. It is a matter of time. The point is that today J!Research 2.0 is our official motivation and will be the most important release ever for 2 reasons: its support for Joomla! 1.6 and the opportunity to bury all current design flaws.  The roadmap includes to give the code a more framework-like look, improving the MVC implementation and make current organizational structure more flexible. Joomla! 1.5 users do not have to worry because 1.x will have support as long as Joomla! 1.5 is oficially maintained. It implies bug fixes and new functionalities if they do not represent dramatic changes in the core design. A 1.3 release is not discarded but will depend excluvisely on community's reaction during the next phase.

The last challenge I want to discuss is about encouraging users to contribute economically with the project. Even though donations received so far have been enough to keep the project alive, I am considering to implement a bounties system with a double aim: motivate developers contribution and ensure project survival whenever I am unable to captain it. Of course the idea requires some discussion and I hope to receive as much feedback as possible from the team and users in following weeks.  As you can see dear reader, it is time of challenges!