Rich: SourceForge is proud to announce that the August project of the month is the XOOPS content management system. I recently spoke with Michael Beck and Mark Boyden about the project. Mark and Michael and I discussed XOOPS and what’s been happening recently, and what we can look forward to in upcoming versions.
If you’d like to have your project featured on the SourceForge podcast, just drop me a note and we’ll schedule something.
Rich: Congratulations on being project of the month!
Mark: Thank you. That certainly comes from everybody who’s involved with XOOPS. It’s a credit to everybody who’s involved with XOOPS.
Michael: It’s definitely a great honor for our community and we are extremely happy about this award.
Rich: For those that are not familiar with your project, can you give us a brief summary of what XOOPS does?
Mark: XOOPS is a content management system. It’s designed to help people get quickly up and running with lots of good common functionality. So, like some of the other content management systems out there that others may know, it’s a very mature, very secure, easy to use system. You can install the basic content management system that has all the permissioning, all the plugins and hooks for other functional modules to be added in. Then you can add in page content management, you can add in forums, you can add in frequently asked questions modules, social networking modules … whatever type of functionality that you really need for a website that’s pretty common out there, calendaring, etc, it exists in XOOPS. Somebody has built at least one module, typically we have several modules to choose from, each with different types of functionality and you can plug those in. We also have module packs, we have our first one up, we’re working to build several other to make it even easier to just pull down a pack together and download those and get them installed.
Rich: Looking at the download statistics from your project, it’s obvious that you have a very international following. Why do you think that is?
Michael: XOOPS has been an international project from the very beginning, when it was started 10 years ago. The first developers were from Japan, Germany, China, USA, and several other countries. So we’ve made a key requirement that it will be translated into all major languages, and to make it easy to customize it for local requirements. We are very popular in Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, France, and many other countries.
This is also reflected in our development community, where we have our developers coming from different countries, such as France, Libya, Japan, China, Portugal, Brazil, Australia, Russia, and many others. The beauty of a project such as XOOPS is that it allows people join together, regardless of their country of origin, gender, race, religion, or politics, and focus on something they enjoy, which is developing XOOPS.
Rich: When evaluating a CMS, of course we want to see what other sites are using it. Can you tell us a few of your recent success stories with XOOPS?
Michael: Yes, XOOPS has several installations that we can be very proud of. The most recent success story is from Libya, where the new government was looking for an Open Source solution, and after some tough testing of several CMS projects, they’ve decided for XOOPS. As a result the new Ministry of Defense and the National Election Commission are both running on XOOPS, and we hope that more of the government institutions in Lybia will follow.
Another success story is State of Parana in Brazil, where all government Websites (and they have over 300 of them), are running on XOOPS. Also the Brazilian CIA, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency is running on XOOPS.
We have also a whole county in Taiwan running their school system on XOOPS.
Of course, there are many others less visible users, but not less happy with XOOPS.
Rich: What’s happened recently? Have you had some important release recently that you want to tell us about?
Mark: 2.5.5 came out a short while back. That’s a bug and security release in that branch. We’re working on the 2.6.0 branch, and we’re working to incorporate a number of member-driven and -desired improvements to XOOPS. In terms of when that is, that’s kind of up to that developer group – the core team – and I believe it’s going to be out this year. I’m just not sure of the exact timing of that.
Rich: What will we see in this new release?
Mark: One of the biggest pushes that we’re doing is to bring a much more consistent management interface to the entire XOOPS collection of modules, and to bring forward a better API to make that easier for the module developers. That’s one of the key things that XOOPS has always done is try and make it easier for the module developers to do those routine things.
Rich: Michael, is there anything you’d like to add about upcoming releases?
Michael: As Mark mentioned, the focus of 2.6.0 is on refactoring and simplifying our architecture and our API. While other CMS systems might be written in a procedural way, XOOPS was from the very beginning very Object Oriented, which is even reflected in our name: XOOPS stands for eXtended Object Oriented Portal System. But over time, you know how it is, you tend to add baggage, and from time to time you need to do a little house cleaning. In XOOPS 2.6, that’s the focus, in order to keep XOOPS as pure OOP as possible, and the architecture and API as consistent as possible. We’ll be looking at that, and we’ll be adding some new ways, new classes, to make module development easier for our developers.
We hope, that after being a Project of the Month, more SourceForge members will try XOOPS, and will join our community as users and developers.
Rich: If folks are looking to get involved in the project, are the plugins the best way to get involved, or is there opportunities to get onto the core team?
Mark: There’s absolutely the opportunity to get on the core team. We would ask people to come in and get involved however they want to, whether that’s answering questions on the forum, helping with the documentation, building modules, getting involved with particular module developers to help enhance or build those. Then once you become familiar with all the various API issues within XOOPS, certainly come back and contribute those. We are very community driven, and there’s threads on our forums where, even if you’re not writing code, at least you can come back and give suggestions and/or contribute code to the project that helps the core developers fix or enhance a particular are. So while I’m not on the core team, I have certainly contributed code and suggestions back myself. XOOPS is a very secure system. It’s easy to develop on. It’s object oriented and the key is to keep code in that methodology, because it builds straight off of the core. It’s got a really good, mature presentation layer capability, so that when people want to change the look and feel, but don’t want to get into the PHP code – since we use Smarty templates, all you really need to know is HTML. So it’s really easy to change the look and feel of the site because of that – just getting involved with the HTML templates. For somebody who wants to get in and have their site have great functionality, get up and running, wants to be able to make the changes but isn’t a PHP developer, make their site look like their own and different from the others, it’s a quick, easy methodology to get going.
Rich: Congratulations on the project of the month.
Mark: We’re excited and we appreciate it, too. We appreciate the highlight.
Rich: I look forward to talking with you again some time. Thanks a lot.
Mark: Thanks, Richard.
Michael: Thanks, Richard, and thanks everybody for listening.