Andy McKay

Feb 12, 2008

Plone Planning Summit

Just got back from the planning summit in California. I have to admit I did come into the summit unsure what would happen. Most sprints that I've been too involve a bunch of people sitting around staring at laptops and doing code. In fact I generally find them quite unproductive (the best sprint ever was the Vancouver sprint that produced Clouseau and had 3 attendees).

This summit started out with some great requests, no laptops and please pay attention to each other. Looking around the room there was a very good selection of people from the community, integrators, core developers, implementors, trainers and companies. The summit then went through a bunch of exercises, focusing on who Plone's users are, specifically focusing on what organisations categories there and what Plone provides for them.

Then came some really useful help from Mark Corum who provided marketing help and advice to all the Plone people there, thinking of specific tasks like "elevator pitches" for selling Plone in sixty seconds. Finally there was a review of competing systems, including Drupal, Sharepoint and Alfresco.

The only real problem on the first day was its length, starting at 8am and finishing around 9pm, that caused most of the Europeans (me included) to be falling asleep over the last hour or so. It's not easy being 8 or 9 time zones out, and having a 16 hour trip there the day before and then staying awake through that.

The second day focused on what I think a lot of people where there for, discussing developer issues. This was for me was a really interesting part because I have real specific views about certain things. Others have different opinions and it was fascinating to see how often, or not, people agreed with my opinions. We did this through SWOT analysis of the various components and lots of sticky dots to go with the analysis.

I often got to control the pen, so wrote down lots of things in the analysis. Things that surprised me, things I've worked on the past include: replacements of the ZODB, fixing portal transforms, external editing in Word just weren't rated that much by other people. The product vs framework didn't get discussed apart from one meeting which I sadly missed, sounds like there will be a proposal from Paul and Wiggy soon. Things that cropped up all over the place include: buildout (overwhelmingly positive, but a few problems), a need to have a consistent and standard way to push Plone to cheap web hosts and the need to keep working on documentation (Jon will be posting full details of this analysis at a later date).

Socially of course there were a few good things: a few good games of pool, some fine scotch from Geir, a bit of drinking with colleagues and I got see my old friend Neil Kandalgaonkar who now works at Yahoo. I managed to get some good sushi and there was a bit of drinking with plans for more drinking. Every Plone sprint or get together like this reminds me how damn good the Plone community and how much I really do miss working regularly with those people.

The last day was a little quieter with formulation of the analysis, to plans for action which various people can take out to the community and see if we can move things forward. I got there a little late for one, so managed to miss myself being nominated for a few things.

As it turned out the goal wasn't really to come out of this meeting with a firm plan and the developer in me always want's something concrete. However what happened was very important, we all got a chance to listen to each other, understand other people's viewpoints and come to some consensus about what things are important. Which then provides more of a consensus for moving forward in the future with the community.

Thanks to: sponsors who were able to send me to the summit. Jon Stahl for doing a great, great job of running the summit. Google for providing food, facilities and a great toilet.

Best quotes from the summit:

"We don't twinkle much in Kentucky", Kurt Bendl's reaction when Jon Stahl explains the process of twinkling to express agreement.

"You know how to do sticky dot voting right?", blank stares and shakes of the head, "No way" exclaims Jon Stahl.