It is hard to believe that it has been more than four months since I assumed the leadership role of the Technology Advisory Group. In some ways, it seems like it should be much longer than that, and in others, it feels like it was just yesterday. In this short amount of time, we have accomplished an incredible amount of items together as a community. Though, if you aren’t in the group or reading our meeting minutes you may not be aware of what has been accomplished by the group and what is in our roadmap. In an effort to better communicate the group’s progress and future goals I wanted to share some details that might often go unnoticed and things we have planned for the future.
After going through an exercise in self-organization and process establishment our group has made some significant accomplishments. Let’s look at some big wins that have already happened:
- Processed more than 150 pull requests from ESW and the Community
- Established policies and procedures for effective management of Pull Requests, Releases, and other contributions
- Created an entire Automated Build environment with consistent packaging processes
- Established a working relationship for the management of security issues
- Released 2 Minor Release versions of DNN including 2 security fixes
- Worked together with the DotNet Foundation to leverage resources automating both the CLA and Build processes
- Have consistently held weekly, open and transparent meetings with positive attendance with information from those meetings consistently shared with the community
- Delivered the 9.2.2 release marking the first 100% community driven release in a very long time
True Team Effort
The work completed in the past 4 months is a sign of great teamwork across the DNN Community, ESW, and the .NET Foundation. Without the support of all parties, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish a fraction of what we did. The notion of a team effort is the heart of everything we’re going to be able to do moving forward. This is critical to point out because no longer should DNN Community members sit back and wait for releases to be delivered to them but rather community members should ignite, activate, and engage in order to continue moving DNN forward.
Interested in ways to get involved? You can contribute by keeping meeting minutes, helping create documentation, simply testing builds, encouraging DNNTAG members, and recruiting more! Of course we always welcome code contributions too. Are you able to code… pick a single pull request or take on a small update to the platform and make a contribution. While our group is passionate and motivated we are also wearing a lot of hats. Please let this message come across as a motivating call for volunteers. As an open source project we can never get enough help and we welcome any contribution you can make regardless of size, scope, or type.
Behind the Scenes Action
One thing that isn’t as visible to the community is the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. This is the work outside of the meetings, outside of the direct pull requests, and the items needed to simply support the ongoing efforts. Things such as the time necessary to review, test, and comment on submissions, the time necessary to coordinate releases, the time needed to transition information from ESW to the community, or the time necessary to set up the automated builds. These areas of behind-the-scenes work require attention, dedication, and as mentioned… time.
We haven’t been keeping solid track of the time spent, but best efforts of the behind the scenes work, the reviews, policies, and non-code-change activities amount to more than 1,000 man hours of contributions to the team. It is hard to identify all of the people behind this work because we have a lot of people making contributions. All contributions are significant and appreciated, but in this post I want to specifically highlight and thank a few people for their contributions. These are a few of the unsung heroes who don’t seek self-promotion or the limelight, but their work behind the scenes has been critical to our success thus far:
- Oliver Hine - He has been the team-lead tracking down and implementing the Automated Builds and Packaging solution. He has also been responsible for creating the Release Notes and actual releases in GitHub for both the 9.2.1 and 9.2.2 releases.
- Brian Dukes - You will see Brian present in most of the DNNTAG meetings where he provides insight to the group, but a major contribution that Brian makes that you may not be aware of is in the regular reviews of incoming pull requests. Brian single handedly helps to process more than 25% of the items coming in.
- Tomasz Pluskiewicz - Tomasz has been one of the key communication pathways between the community and ESW. He has helped to track down loose ends, document processes that wee unused internally, and most importantly has worked to transition internal Evoq processes over to adhere to the new community structure.
- Matt Rutledge - You will be seeing Matt’s name more in the coming months, but he has spent more than 45-50 hours on a single pull request to upgrade the React Components and Persona Bar elements to the latest version. Matt has also stepped up and will be added to the approvers group and assisting with review and approval of Persona Bar changes
If you communicate with these individuals please let them know you are appreciative of their work. Tweet to them, send them a message on GitHub, or comment on this post. There are many others that are also active in the community and in the last month alone we have seen a significant increase in community activity. All good signs of what is to come in the future.
The Pathway Forward
Within the technology advisory group, the discussion often returns to the future of DNN and what we see as the pathway forward. And more importantly what the future may look like for .NET Core. In an effort to better manage the planning processes, we have established a pattern whereby once every 6 weeks the weekly Technology Advisory Group meeting will be dedicated to discussing the strategic future direction of the platform. As always any contribution can be discussed via any of the available channels, but this meeting schedule will be specifically dedicated to future phase items only.
After this release, the group has decided that a 9.4 release will become the next priority. Sticking with the concept of using semantic versioning the 9.4 release will be a minor feature release geared primarily toward improving the Persona Bar, exposing settings to the Persona Bar that are not currently available, and other changes that should make the Persona Bar more easy to work with for the community.
.NET Core & Road Ahead
Another hot-button item is .NET Core support. The group has repeatedly discussed this subject, the level of effort this transition would take, as well as the disruption that would occur within the ecosystem as a result. There is no doubt that this will be major when the transition occurs. Additionally, the .NET Core platform is moving forward in a very aggressive manner, and in a way that requires others to keep up. As such, the current collective decision from our group is that the community will continue working to make the future transition easier by supporting development paradigms that will make transitioning as smooth as possible for our community . However, while we are working to prepare to get to .NET Core a true .NET Core implementation is not the primary goal for the team at the moment.
This topic is something that will be continually monitored over the coming months and as .NET Core matures the pathway forward will be constantly reviewed and adjusted as needed.
While these past few months have been hard, I am optimistic about the future of DNN. I know myself, like many others, have contributed many, many more hours than expected to the DNN Project, but we are making strides in the right direction. We have an empowered and engaged community and we have proven that we are TRULY open source. We have great support from the .NET Foundation which provides us with resources that we need to thrive. We are putting out releases that stabilize and enhance the platform and we are modernizing DNN in preparation for the the days ahead. The future is bright for DNN!