Time flies… It’s been just under 3 months since we announced the acquisition of DNN Corp – but certainly feels like yesterday. In this time – I’ve had the great pleasure to meet an amazing array of passionate community members from all over the world. I feel honored to be a small part of this incredible group of people.
If I had one word to summarize the feedback from these discussions – it would be ‘concern’. If I had a second word – it would be ‘skeptical’. And with the strained history between DNN Corp and the community – I believe both of these words are spot on. We are going to fix this.
The strength and sustainability of any open source project lies within the community that forms around it. DNN is no different. And though this may sound overly direct - DNN Corp’s neglect towards the community has caused amazing individuals, partners and supporters to leave in droves – causing the community to dwindle considerably. A look at any metric related to DNN’s health over the last decade shows consistent negative decline. Low number of Google searches for terms related to DNN, vendors leaving the ecosystem, fewer open source extensions available, user groups not as active and low OSS contributions are just a few examples of these unhealthy metrics.
However, hidden in the metrics is the message of opportunity. It only takes a few meetings with community members to see the incredible underlying passion for the DNN platform. To see the insatiable desire to continue the innovation on top of an already robust offering. These are folks that continue to see the platform as the amazing ecosystem that it is. And despite the declines - the community is still very large. Together – we can turn this around.
Change is Upon Us
From the DNN Corp side – you have seen and will continue to see dramatic changes. This starts with us being open, transparent and direct. We’ve taken the first steps here through our open dialogue in community meet-ups from day 1, our immediate review of all 66 community pull requests (some have been sitting there for years), publishing of our open source testing tool, hiring of a key community member (Clint Patterson) to increase our openness, pulling together many of the former Core and MVP members to regularly brainstorm, joining the .Net Foundation and the rolling out of our support packages for the open source platform – just to name a few.
No longer will you see ‘DNN Corp vs the community’ – but rather a perspective that WE ARE ONE IN THE SAME. We’re all on the same boat together – and it’s all of our responsibilities to revitalize it. And on that note – we are seeking volunteers for a new initiative called the Ecosystem Advisory Groups.
Ecosystem Advisory Groups
Several times over the last 3 months – Shaun Walker and I have met with other key community leaders to set a strategy to revitalize the community. In those discussions – we outlined a framework to build upon the success of the DNN platform and return to growth.
Ecosystems, of course, are made up of multiple connected parts that all work together to thrive. Our ecosystem is made up of passionate people who all represent multiple sides of the community and who all have varying objectives, needs, perspectives, and motivations. To create a shared path forward that will help us to not only grow, but to thrive - there are 4 key areas where we all need to partner together to make his happen:
- Technology strategy: Ensure the underlying technology platform has a roadmap to remove technical debt and be leading edge
- Developers strategy: Ensure new developers are continually coming into the ecosystem, are excited to develop on top of the DNN platform and have a robust store marketplace to monetize their apps
- Partner ecosystem strategy: Dramatically increase the communication and quantity of partners – from resellers to integrators to ISVs to hosting providers and beyond.
- Awareness strategy: Drive increases in the DNN platform awareness amongst the CMS and broader platform ecosystem.
Technology Advisory Group:
Technology changes rapidly. To reach developers and create lasting partnerships, the technology stack must be modern and relevant. With the right technology in place, awareness becomes easier. The technology group will ensure that DNN’s underlying structure is built on a solid foundation.
This group will have open discussions and form strategy for the underlying DNN technology stack. Subjects of conversation will be the path to .NET Core v2, integrated JS libraries, environmental requirements, the possibility of distributions, and more. The goal of this group is to future proof DNN as best possible so that the overall ecosystem can thrive for years to come – then execute on the code development to make the roadmap reality.
The Technology Advisory Group will be led by DNN’s original creator, Shaun Walker. We are excited to welcome Shaun back to the DNN community and look forward to a continued partnership with him.
Developers Advisory Group:
Developers are crucial to the future of the DNN Ecosystem. New streams of developers entering our ecosystem create new innovations and offerings for our customers. We need developers that understand and use the technology to grow our ecosystem offerings. And by “developers” we mean the front end, back end, and everything in between. Do you open an IDE or even a simple text editor and write any form of code? If so, this group may be for you.
Through this advisory group we want to learn from and better understand the developers in our ecosystem. This will help us best accommodate and reach other developers. What is the popular tooling of the day? What frameworks should be leveraged? What do you expect from the platform's API? These questions are the questions we will seek to answer and act on as well as create a robust storefront / app store where developers can monetize their offerings.
The Developers Advisory Group will be led by Peter Donker.
Partners Advisory Group:
Partner organizations are critical to the health of the ecosystem. The general areas of partnerships are implementation, hosting, supporting, and vendors. Moving forward it’s important that strong partnerships exist throughout the ecosystem. And those partnerships exist not just with DNN, but across the ecosystem with other partners as well. We are all partners together.
Goals for this group would be creating win/win scenarios for all partner organizations, understanding our partner organizations, and learning how we can best support and help each other succeed. Join this group to shape what the future of DNN partnerships look like.
The Partners Advisory Group will be led by David Poindexter.
Awareness Advisory Group:
Awareness is also critical for the growth of an ecosystem. DNN has a strong history of awareness – but we need to revitalize the efforts to pull in new customers, developers, partners, others. The awareness group will be involved with topics such as evangelism, training, onboarding, documentation, and anything related to spreading the word about DNN. We need passionate and motivated people in the awareness group as it’s very important for expanding reach, attracting new ecosystem members, and growing the ecosystem. The more ecosystem members we have, the more we all benefit.
Some of our goals for this group are helping revamp the onboarding process for DNNSoftware.com, creating training content on DNNSoftware.com, and other locations such as Pluralsight, Udemy, Udacity, Lynda and anywhere training takes places online. We’re also looking for creative ways to share DNN with developers, students, co-workers and more.
The Awareness Advisory Group will be led by Will Strohl.
EAG Purpose and Goals
These groups will start the conversation about the shared path forward for the community in each of these areas. Ultimately the conversations held in these groups will lead to action and those actions will help shape the ecosystem moving forward.
Our goal is to get all sides of the ecosystem rowing in the same direction with a shared vision for growing the ecosystem and seeing it thrive. We hope you’ll help shape the future of the DNN ecosystem with us!
How to Get Involved
Are you passionate about any of the areas listed above? If so, we want you to be involved. The only requirement for being in these groups is a willingness to contribute. If you would like to get involved all you have to do is send an email to ecosystem manager, Clint Patterson at Clint.Patterson@DNNSoftware.com and indicate which group(s) you would like to be involved with. Yes, you can be involved in more than one group! We will have meetings with these groups soon and I will reach out via email to schedule.
Change is upon us and we hope you will join us on the journey to shape the future of DNN.