Project of the Month, June 2009

Silex


Project Leaders:

Alexandre Hoyau

Lex (Alexandre Hoyau)

Occupation: Freelance Senior ActionScript developer

Education: Engineer in computer science/computer vision

Location: Paris La Défense

Pol Goasdoué

Pol (Pol Goasdoué)

Occupation: Freelance Senior Designer

Education: Designer

Location: Paris La Défense

Shar-of

Shar-of

Occupation: Freelance website development

Education: Web

Location: Paris La Défense

Ariel Sommeria-klein

Ariel (Ariel Sommeria-klein)

Occupation: Freelance Senior ActionScript developer

Education: Engineer

Location: Paris La Défense

drugBox

drugBox

Occupation: php developer

Location: Leipzig, Germany

Key Developers:

Pascal Roë d'Albert

Pascal (Pascal Roë d’Albert)

Occupation: Freelance Web Designer Flash

Education: Design

Location: Paris La Défense

Athanase Djongon

Ath (Athanase Djongon)

Occupation: Freelance Accountant

Education: Post-graduate

Location: Paris La Défense

Florian Duchêne

Flo (Florian Duchêne)

Experience: Freelance business manager

Education: ESSEC Business School

Location: Paris La Défense

Ophelia Id Abbou

OOPH (Ophelia Id Abbou)

Occupation: Freelance writer, editor, translator

Education: Film studies

Location: Paris La Défense

Arthur

Arthur

Experience: Graphic designer

Education: Design

Location: Paris La Défense

Why did you place the project on SourceForge.net?

SourceForge’s position as a historical leader in hosting open source projects lends a legitimacy to our project, and we’ve always wanted to be Project of the Month! SourceForge is the mecca for open source projects and we’re proud to be a part of it, and the new POTM!

How has SourceForge.net helped your project succeed?

SourceForge has helped us by providing SVN and webspace without any limits in size or use, and given us great visibility in the open source community. The tools provided are also very useful — for instance, the rank and activity levels, downloads statistics, and newsletters give us an idea of what Silex’s status is in the open source ecosystem.

The number one benefit of using SourceForge.net is:

Being part of the community, sharing, and collaborating!

Project name: Silex

Date founded/started: 2007

Project page: http://sourceforge.net/projects/silex

Description of project:

Silex is an open source RIA that enables you to build Flash websites for Flash Player 7, 8, 9, and 10. Silex is a new kind of CMS, a mix between an editing software like the Adobe Creative Suite, and Wiki based software.

All multimedia file formats — images of all kinds, texts, videos with chapters and subtitles, audio and playlists, 3D animations, .pdf files, etc. can be assembled in Silex WYSIWYG editor to publish online, on a local compute, or on a CD-R. Silex can be used to display consistently all types of data — either static or dynamic — from text files, your databases, your CMS, blog, any participative systems, Web TVs, etc.

HTML and Flash advantages are both in Silex thanks to a robust conception of the system and the professional experience of the authors. For instance, an HTML equivalent is generated on the fly for search engines to index the contents of Silex Web sites as if they were HTML Web sites.

You can get more details on our official Web site.

Why and how did you get started?

It all started when Pol met Lex in May, 1999. At the time, Pol was director of a creative label for a production company. He was looking for software capable of publishing photos, videos, and sounds so he made a call for bids. At the time, Flash was a newborn as an application programming tool and dvd authoring software was too heavy and rigid to be useful. Lex was a freelance ActionScript developer and he made a demo that showed manipulation of live or recorded streamed video online was possible. It was quite a performance! Soon after, they began collaborating on unique and ingenious software that didn’t exist.

Who is the software’s intended audience?

Web masters, graphic designers, Action Script and Flash developers, companies, and organizations. It’s also great for anyone who wants to create and manage their own website, make a cd-rom, install cd or a web-tv, display databases content, touchscreens, etc.

What are a couple of notable examples of how people are using your software?

There’s a small company, La Cave du Picaro restaurant, that chose Silex when they were looking for publishing software that’s both user-friendly and rich in content. Mobile phone operator PROXIMUS BELGACOM in Belgium with Moodmedia uses it in the implementation of touchscreens. The company’s developers use Silex to create a network of local touchscreens with a distant database. It is in use in 400 shops right now.

What are the system requirements for your software, and what do people need to know about getting it set up and running?

For editing: Silex does not need to be installed (no .exe or .dmg), simply copy and paste it on your server or your local server (Xampp or Mamp). Your server must support php5 though and have Flash 7 or newer.

For viewing: Since Silex starts in your web browser (Firefox, Safari, Explorer) it can be used with MacOS, Windows, and Linux.

Other releases or formats: Silex contents can be published as Flash, but also as .exe or .dmg applications. There is a Silex2Go version of Silex which lets you put your server, with editing capabilities, on a USB key (Windows only).

What gave you an indication that your project was becoming successful?

The SourceForge general statistics and, more precisely, the number of downloads. Also, the customer’s satisfaction, the enthusiasm shown by professionals who are using it and spreading the word.

What has been your biggest surprise?

The emergence of a dozen rivals after spending seven years alone on the market was one. Our biggest surprise, though, surely was being invited by Apple to present Silex at WWDC 2005 and the 2007 Apple Exhibition. This year’s most pleasant surprise is the Silex labs: a team of 10 enthusiastic and dedicated people to the project, who are giving a month and a half of their time to work hand-in-hand in the same place.

What has been your biggest challenge?

We have had and still have many challenges to face. Believing in Silex for eight years has been a big one. While developing Silex, our biggest challenges have been keeping it simple while expanding the possibilities, implementing the new Frame component, keeping the tutorials and documentation up to date, and making Silex multilingual.

Why do you think your project has been so well received?

The technology we use in Silex is well-ahead of its time, unique, and, above all, user-friendly. Silex is not an ordinary CMS, it’s a multifunctional tool for the Web and your multimedia projects. You can not only create a Web site, you can also make cd-roms, manage databases, create touchscreens, web-tvs, and so on. You don’t even need to be a computer geek !

As the lead developer, Lex said recently, “I have always written extensible and modular codes, never a trashable one. As a result, Silex is as versatile as a Web master has to be!”

What advice would you give to a project that’s just starting out?

First, take the time for a robust conception, then think ahead and imagine what your project could become in ten years. Second, don’t just concentrate on the technical aspects because the community is just as important.

Where do you see your project going?

  • To help people with disabilities access the Internet and give designers the right tools for them to make accessible Web sites (which is impossible nowadays)
  • Silex as an education tool for multimedia introductions
  • Silex as a Php templates editor to make front-ends for CMSs like Joomla or Drupal, blogs like WordPress or Blogger, for forums like BBPRESS or phpBB, and e-commerce solutions like osCommerce or Megento catalogs. Silex could even be used for MySpace templates. Why not?
  • Silex as a widget editor
  • Silex as an offline, online, and mixed applications development tool — for touch screens, desktop applications, and highly user-friendly applications
  • Silex for entertainment, events management, and artists who need small but graphically-rich Web sites
  • Silex for non-profit organizations : affordable websites / rich content / no programming skills required / multilingual

What’s on your project wish list?

To have a growing community of users and contributors. We also want to make Silex available for the visually and hearing-impaired so that Web sites will be accessible to them. Users can vote for feature requests here.

What are you most proud of?

Gathering a core team of 10 people and getting them to work together on Silex full-time for a month for free really proves the value of the project. And of course, being chosen as POTM on SourceForge! You can follow our adventures on our blog.

If you could change something about the project, what would it be?

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, a lot of stuff is ugly, sometimes a little buggy, and it needs a complete rewrite, so we’re working on it. Otherwise, we have a long feature-requests list, and we’re preparing some interesting things for the new version. Silex has remained an island for too long, so it would have been nice to have built bridges to other projects earlier.

How do you coordinate the project?

We usually work from afar and hold meetings, but now the Core Team is currently working for the first time in an open-space office in Paris-La Defense Business Center during the month of May. This time, each member has been assigned a task and a schedule. We have two developers (ActionScript, Oof), one Flasher, two graphic designers, one Web master / integrator, one PR person, one writer / translator, and one administrator.

How many hours a month do you and/or your team devote to the project?

Development and design takes about five days a month, as does documentation and tutorials. Trainings and community issues take about one day a moth, and managing the team, communication tools, forums, and mailing lists takes a couple hours a day.

What is your development environment like?

We use Linux, MAC OS X Tiger and Leopard, and Windows Vista and XP. The software we use includes Mtasc, fdt, sepy and flashdevelop for developers, Adobe suite for designers, FileZilla, SVN, Xampp, XRay debugger, Zend framework, and a lot more.

Milestones:

Date Milestone
09/07 Presentation of Silex at the Paris Apple Expo
04/08 Release of v.1
01/09 Release of v.1.3
06/09 Birth of the official Silex organization
06/09 Release of v1.5

How can others contribute?

The Silex core team is in Paris and the community is spread mostly in France, but we have plenty users around the world.
We are looking for people who will get involved, be excited and passionate about the project, and make this community grow. To get involved you just have to email one of the team members or check out the English or French forums. Bloggers and translators can also subscribe to our Silex mailing lists.


Check out our previous projects of the month.