PostNuke, Xaraya, yet another fork

I don't know why, today I checked PostNuke's status. Some things amazed me:

  • the number of developers on sourceforge went from more than 100 to 13
  • I did recognize only 2 names on the developpers list
  • the most active developers have vanished
  • public CVS browsing has been removed

To be true, it's not a really big surprise. When I left PostNuke (around the end of March), I was angry because I didn't contribute much (neither from an external point of view nor from my personal point of view). There are several reasons for that:

  1. general atmosphere
  2. code moving too fast for me
  3. hypocritical decisions
  4. I can't concentrate on one thing

I'll treat those points one by one.

1. General atmosphere. Unfriendly. I think that is the word. I don't speak about the individuals, but about this combination of 'hype with PostNuke' + 'war against php-nuke' + "I have the truth". This doesn't invite you to participate in conversations, and thus, you don't feel implicated. And if you don't participate, there are great chances that you don't fully agree with the decisions, and you don't feel like ranting, because the time for arguing is over.

2. Code moving too fast for me. When you come back from your full-time job, you have to read all the dev mailing lists, follow a bit the support forums, read the CVS notices and read some of the changes. After that... well, there is not that much time left. When things calm down, you don't feel like contributing, because you realize you spend almost all your free time on that, and you think it's good to let your brain breathe.

3. Hypocritical decisions. It's the result of the other factors. Only the few people able to work almost full-time on the project can argue efficiently. And given the atmosphere, the reason is lost, and the first to write the code wins. This is not always a bad thing, it can cut endless discussions and allows people to move forward. But this works only if there is a natural hierarchy which is respected, otherwise, grief becomes the norm.

4. I can't concentrate on one thing. I put it at the last place, but after having taken the time to think, it's the main one why I failed to contribute. PostNuke is a big project, with blurry borders. If you don't define straight border, the mind will escape. When you debute in the Bazaar model, it works only if you're able to focus yourself on a tiny point and ignore the surrounding noise. I'm not that kind of people, I like when the boundaries are well defined, and when I'm assigned a specific task. I should have resigned sooner.

Adding all this little things make contributing difficult. What's the situation today? PostNuke has lost all of the core developers and the original Project Manager. Those people have taken the development tree and created Xaraya. The fork is done, essentially because there was no natural agreement on the "patching/enhancing policy", just like when PHP-Nuke was forked to create PostNuke. Work goes on with PostNuke, with a new set of core developers. Xaraya is being improved, probably with less pressure than before. Work has never ceased on PHP-Nuke. Meanwhile Xoops gained momentum. Spip, daCode and Drupal are alive as well.

The situation is in a sense worse than it was two years ago. More incompatible CMS, more choice, more unfinished products. The only thing it advises you is to not choose one and either buy a commercial product or roll your own. I've followed the evolution of PostNuke since its creation, back in 2000, and the goals are simply not met (yet). The product is not finished, and from an external point of view, it has not left PHP-Nuke far behind. Meanwhile, the "nuke community" has grown, fought and chosen several camps, nothing to really worry about. For all the developers involved, it is great that you can find a project that motivates you. For the end-user... well... come back in two years, or resignate yourself to the idea that an open source CMS is bleeding edge.