Monthly Archives: April 2018

Sakai Community Leadership Update

By now, you know that Neal Caidin will no longer be our full-time Community Coordinator as of April 30, 2018 because of a reduction in Apereo membership revenue for Sakai. We still have funding – just not enough for a full-time coordinator. We will miss Neal’s smile, talent, and tireless dedication to our community.

The Sakai PMC, Sakai Commercial Affiliates, and Apereo Board have been coordinating on how to fill the roles that will be left open when Neal leaves. I attach a draft of a document we have been developing that looks at the community leadership roles in general that are currently filled by Neal and others.

We will fill these roles by a combination of volunteer leadership and by paying for time. Some of these roles are 20 hours per week and so we will use Sakai membership money to fill them. Here is a list of the people who will be leading us in these roles going forward; where we have a lead / back-up in the position, there are two names:

  • Community Facilitator: Wilma Hodges (Longsight)
  • Release Manager: Matthew Jones (Longsight)
  • Branch Manager: Matthew Jones (Longsight) / Earle Neitzel (Longsight)
  • QA Lead: Dede Hourican (Marist) / Jolie Tingen (Duke)
  • A11Y Lead: Tiffany Stull (Virginia) / Terry Golightly (Johnson)
  • I18N Lead: Miguel Pellicer (EDF)
  • Security Lead: Miguel Pellicer (EDF)

At this point, we have worked out an arrangement with Longsight to cover some of Wilma’s and Matt’s time taking on the Community Facilitator and Release Manager roles. The terms of the arrangements have been shared with the Apereo, the Sakai PMC and all the Sakai Commercial Affiliates. The PMC is making these appointments for 3 months and will review these roles August 1, 2018, and then formally consider others who might be interested in these roles.

The other roles are not directly compensated at this point, so we should thank those who have taken on this leadership as volunteers–as well as others who are not currently listed but are already part of our community leadership. To provide some support to these volunteer leaders, the PMC will retain some of the Sakai member funds and make them available to help with travel and other necessary expenses if a person’s organization is not able to cover them in the individual’s volunteer role. This will not be a lot of money but we feel that it can be very helpful in ensuring that our volunteer leadership makes it to meetings, conferences, and events.

The PMC will monitor the costs of these new approaches and make adjustments over the coming months, including additional compensated roles as finances permit. All funds that are spent will be done so in the open within the PMC and all of the Sakai SCAs. The PMC chair will report a summary of the expenditures around community support to the whole community quarterly.

You are welcome to join the PMC public mailing list to watch this happening more closely if you are interested and want to participate.!forum/sakai-pmc

Our goals in this staffing activity is to end up with Sakai community leadership that is both broad and deep and can handle turnover in these roles. We want to encourage involvement from all of our SCAs if they have interest.

Release 0.5.0 of Tsugi coming soon

If you have been watching Tsugi-php and tsugi lately, you have seen the pace of commits slowing down.  This is good because ultimately Tsugi wants to be a library that just works.   But a few recent efforts like improving blob support and activity tracking took a lot of effort and a lot of commits. But that code is now solid and has been in production for a while at scale.
The Tsugi release approach is that you run master and in a periodic cron (for me it is hourly) do a “git pull” and run upgrade.php.   Master needs to always be production ready and all my production servers run master within an hour of a commit.  While many of you may not be this aggressive (and don’t need to be) – I do this so I know if something goes wrong almost instantly.   We are working on better unit tests and post-commit hook functionality tests to make this strategy even safer.
But with this as approach, the way releases work is more to do with freezing master at a very safe place so that we can try something in master.  That way if something goes awry in master – you just jump back to  a safe place.  Kind of like mountain climbing with a lead climber.  Always have a place to fall back to.
I will be making a change in master that I expect will be safe, but just to be sure, I want to make the 0.5.0 release / branch to come back to.
Some of you have noticed that I have frozen various versions of dependencies in composer.json:
I did this because I did not want to update a dependency and mix it with a change I was making as we went along the path.  This way I did not make my change and update a dependency in the same breath so I *know* if something broken is my fault or a dependency failure / regression.   Dependencies are software too – and can make make mistakes in minor releases.  I conside my own QA to be QAing both all of tsugi plus its dependencies.
So what I will do as soon as I make the 0.5.0 release is update composer.json to let the dependency versions upgrade.  I will do this in a series of steps to allow for some QA/production experience at each step.
I will try to make no changes in tsugi-php or tsugi during this time unless a bug appears or a dependency upgrade breaks something.
What you will see is a series of updates that update a *lot* of files – all in the vendor folder.   It is OK.

Sakai Coordinator: Funding in 2018

The Apereo Foundation is five years old. In that time we’ve grown from a handful of software communities serving higher education to almost twenty. The network of contributors to our software communities has grown significantly, encouraged by the global partnerships we forge.

We have structured our membership of educational institutions and commercial affiliates to be as inclusive as possible, and to reflect differing levels of financial resources available to higher education internationally. Large institutions are and remain important – but the voices of smaller institutions, or those with less available resource, should not be excluded or lost.

Membership subscriptions and in-kind contributions support everything we do. We have no endowment or other sources of revenue. Our membership structure has two main components – a core membership subscription, which supports the functions and activities the Foundation provides for all our software communities, and individual software community subscriptions supporting the specific activities of our constituent software communities.

Last year Foundation membership grew by more than twice the numbers we lost. In overall financial terms, our core membership revenue more or less broke even. Sakai supporting subscription revenue did not meet its target. In these circumstances, reluctantly, the post of Sakai Community Coordinator is being terminated effective April 30th.

Neal Caidin, the current postholder, has done an amazing job, and this decision does not reflect on the ability, enthusiasm and good humor Neal has brought to the role. In addition to Neal’s management of the Sakai release process worldwide, Neal has been a valuable coordinator and contributor from the introduction of the Lessons tool in 2.9 through the responsive and mobile design of Sakai 12 to the WCAG 2.00 AA certification effort – and much more. Sakai has matured to become a more inclusive and effective community as a result of Neal’s leadership and capacity to facilitate with sensitivity and empathy. Apereo itself has benefited from Neal piloting processes such as Funding and Resource Management (FARM), feature prioritization, and conference planning. We would like to thank Neal and to wish him well on his next ventures. Neal’s last day is April 30.

Sakai is losing a Community Coordinator, but is not losing community coordination. In the coming weeks the Sakai PMC will work with the Foundation to evaluate the best means to deploy available resources to meet the needs of the Sakai community. The Sakai Supporting Subscription will continue to make a very significant contribution to meeting those needs. We will conduct as much of this work in the open as possible, and ensure regular community communication and consultation.

Chuck Severance, Chair of the Sakai PMC
Ian Dolphin, Apereo Foundation Executive Director