First 111 days of OpenNTF 2.0

by Volker Weber

The first 111 days are over and things have sorted out a bit. The front page is now more about content than about committees. That is good. But I still find the site very confusing and I hope we can sort things out here. This is what you get if you click on download:


As you can see there are four different areas where you can download stuff: Apache Catalog, GPL Catalog, Projects, Code bin. Projects is mostly OpenNTF 1.0 with all the projects that had thousands of downloads in the past. Projects points to the third navigation tab. It's not obvious that you can download code from the projects because it is missing a catalog, but you can.


Apache Catalog and GPL Catalog are basically the same thing. IBM wanted all software on OpenNTF 2.0 to be published under the Apache Software License. The GPL catalog is for software to be published under the GNU Public License. Apparently it was necessary to have two catalogs to host software with two different licenses. The GPL Catalog is currently empty, the Apache Catalog has three sections which are mostly populated with stuff from the IBM labs which so far has little or no downloads:




Code Bin has its own navigation tab, but that only appears after you went to Download and clicked on Code bin there:


What's needed now is a more straightforward approach to make all downloads available through one interface instead of forcing the user through an arbitrary navigation path that can only be explained with OpenNTF legacy.


The volunteer staff at is donating as much time as it can to addressing these issues. If you'd like to help, please contact We are looking for anyone willing to volunteer their time, including visual designers.

John Head, 2009-08-31

Agreed - I like the direction, but a the interface is definitely clunky and could be streamlined.

Erik Brooks, 2009-08-31

I've routed around the navigation in OpenNTF for years. Good to see it's being updated. As for calls for volunteers, I, and probably lots of other people, thought this would be the first thing that IBM would help with when they announced their support....

In the meantime, in your favorite search engine, just type this in

For example, say you're looking for backup tools:


If you're looking for the word backup in the code bin:

backup codebin

Brian Benz, 2009-08-31

John, do you seriously think you can start with chiefs and add indians later?

Volker Weber, 2009-08-31

@Volker, the Indians are already there but too often forgotten...they wrote the stuff that fills the code bin and the download sections.

Brian Benz, 2009-08-31

Volker, we have a large todo list of tasks that need to be done. Those include site navigation and interface. We have not had a designer offer their time to work on the site. Anyone can join the Technical Committee and offer to help. Email to join.

@Brian - why should we rely on IBM to build user interfaces? They are just one of the member companies. They are just one piece of the puzzle. Until other's jump on and help - by actually doing something other than talk - we will keep having issues.

John Head, 2009-08-31

Oh boy....OK, John here goes.

The one employee of Benz Technologies has:
-Contributed a free tool for getting Notes contacts to social networks via Google and Yahoo.
-Advocated/suggested a new registry-style format for the next version of OpenNTF, and built a prototype.
-Just now showed techniques for finding things on OpenNTF, a couple of comments up.

As far as I'm concerned these are contributions, Not just talk, even if they're not on your script. And of course my contributions are minor compared to the good work of hundreds of others.

Now IBM. The 358,000 employees of OpenNTF Member IBM have supported OpenNTF by....Nope, can't find a thing. Please list IBM links and accomplishments here. Contributions only please, not just "talk".

And you wonder why people don't want to contribute more anonymous, thankless, development effort to this cause.

Brian Benz, 2009-08-31

Brian my comment was not directed at you at all. It was a general statement.

As for IBM's contribution, check out the 30+ submissions in the Apache Catalog. You can also find the source for those in the Projects section. IBM also did the new interface and most of the heavy lifting on management of the site the past couple months. IBM has also provided the IP Manager for the site and the Apache license work. That is a large investment - IBM is paying Peter for his time working on the project. IBM has done quite a bit - and is doing even more as we go forward.

My comment was that if someone doesn't like something on the site, we have a direct point of access to not only provide feedback, but volunteer to work on the solution. We have dev and staging servers now, so it can be done using a proper process. You can join the Technical Committee Brian - it is as easy as filling out the ICLA and asking Niklas to invite you to the bi-weekly calls. With the amount of open tasks, no one will do anything except eagerly welcome you.

John Head, 2009-08-31

John, I hear with xpages you can build solutions in eight hours and less, which takes others months to complete. :-)

On a more serious note: the design is not too bad. What is broken is the concept. Neither development nor design can fix that.

Volker Weber, 2009-08-31

The concept for has always been to put stuff out immediately and add design and development as we go. We decided to get all the downloads on a single page and available. Would it be best to have a single downloads page, that lets you filter between development (stuff in projects), code snipets, and downloads, and a sub filter by license type for apache or gpl, and have a single presentation? Of course. Nothing we have today prevents that. But until that is built, and we have controls in there that let folks limit what they see at the profile level (we don't really have a user profile feature at all on - that is under dev as well), this is our approach.

Projects will always have a more detailed ui to it - its about collaborating around development. It needs a major overhaul, we know that, but end users really should be downloading from the catalogs. The two catalogs is mostly to give us separation of the license types based on legal advice. Code snipets is a whole different use case - heck, I'd personally remove them from the site if we could browse them directly from within Designer.

So again, we know what our end concept is. A single catalog that provides filters based on type, license, and scope. We just need someone to step up and help build it. Otherwise, the current resources will get to it as we knock items off the task list. We do have a task list and a project manager :) And one more time, anyone can join the technical Committee by filling out the ICLA, sending it to, and joining the Technical Committee. For even more input, you can become a Member of the Alliance and have a chance to vote for the Steering Committee Members (or become one yourself via nomination and election). Everyone is welcome.

John Head, 2009-08-31

Sounds very complicated to me.

If I just take one random project on SourceForge everything looks pretty clear to me, including license.

The thing I don't understand is the "step up" part. You have quite a lot of Alliance Members. Isn't that what they do?

Volker Weber, 2009-09-01 is not SourceForge. We are

Now as I do a side by side viewing, SourceForge has two views to all projects. The browse & search, which is the catalog aspect. Clicking download gives you the latest released version. If you want to get into the dev section, click the develop link. It expands on what the user sees. It gives you all the versions, bugs, etc.

SourceForge also only have one license family to deal with. has two - and no matter what side of the license debate you are on, most people agree they want to filter out what is made available.

SourceForge also makes everything be a project. added the code bin so you didn't need a full project for 20 lines of code that got you the OS user name (as an example). We could force that on as well.

Suggestions are great the best place for them is in the technical committee forum - that way they get added to the review list, discussed on the TC calls, and turned into tasks.

John Head, 2009-09-01 is not SourceForge. We are

Thank you for explaining that. I thought that Ludwig and Steve spoke for "we".

SourceForge also only have one license family to deal with. has two

Quick reality check, John. Go to SourceForge, use the search field, enter GPL. Use it again, enter Apache Software License. Use it again, enter whatever license family you can dream up.

that way they get added to the review list, discussed on the TC calls, and turned into tasks.

Great process. Does not solve the problem that somebody has to do the things to get the things done.

Volker Weber, 2009-09-01

Vacation means a slow response here.

There are some valid points being made. Its a choice between visually showing no updates whilst everything is completely built first or showing gradual improvements as and when an update can be made without breaking anything for existing users (I accept originally the forums were not up to scratch - and even now still require further work).

Obviously either way we would attract different sorts of critiques, so its a case of all of us doing our best whilst the individual parts are put together and the old infrastructure is slowly replaced. At the same time we always welcome suggestions, help, critique.

The projects tab (which will be "contribute") will be the next area to be upgraded. Volunteers are always welcome and the structure is under design right now. The current old system doesn't quite fit in with the site today and probably causes some of the confusion. I personally will not be happy until each project page is as nice as the one linked to on sourceforge (in fact better).

This will hopefully leave us with a very straightforward navigation - home, download, contribute, ideajam, forums, about, get involved (with a search in addition). About and Get Involved have also recently been updated. We also welcome any additional suggestions.

The different catalogs (GPL/Apache) have been well documented before, its a structure designed so any organisation can consume, no matter their legal viewpoint. Its not a perfect situation - but thats a difficult place to get to. However we will be trying to constantly improve on this situation.

So in short, we are not blind to any issues, it just takes time and planning to get it right. At the same time I personally believe good progress has been made so far and there will be even further progress shortly.

Steve Castledine, 2009-09-01

This will probably come across as trite to some readers, but this really conveys how I feel about where OpenNTF is right now: Seth Godin on Enormity.

Charles Robinson, 2009-09-02

"The 358,000 employees of OpenNTF Member IBM have supported OpenNTF by....Nope, can't find a thing."

Not everyone in IBM is technical or technical in the fields OpenNTF would need. So that number probably needs trimming. :)

John gave a good account but I do know a number of developers who are contributing to OpenNTF and are quite vocal about showing off the site and getting people interested in OpenNTF.

Simon O'Doherty, 2009-09-04

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