The great thing about open source software is the ability for developers to fork their own project, if they want to see it take a different direction.
In 2001, a Content Management System called MyPHPNuke forked from another project, PHP-Nuke, for this very reason. Shortly thereafter, when core developers decided that add-on modules were integrated too tightly with the core, another fork was spawned named XOOPS (eXtensible Object Oriented Portal System).
Today, XOOPS has become an award-winning CMS that still boasts thousands of downloads a day. Based on PHP and MySQL, this flexible, powerful CMS gives even the most die hard Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress fans something to talk about.
Some of the features include:
- Fully Modularized Architecture: Modules can be installed/uninstalled/ activated/deactivated with a click using the XOOPS module administration system.
- Personalized User Profiles: Registered users can edit their profiles, select site themes, upload custom avatars, and much more.
- Robust User Management System: The ability to search for users by various criteria, send email and private messages to users through a template-based messaging system.
- Worldwide Support: XOOPS was created and is maintained by a team of several hard-working volunteers working from all over the world. The XOOPS community has more than dozen official support sites around the world for support of non-English speaking users.
- Multi-byte Language Support: Fully supports multi-byte languages, including Japanese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, etc.
- Versatile Group Permissions System: Powerful and user-friendly permissions system which enables administrators to set permissions by group.
- Theme-based Skinnable Interface: XOOPS is driven by a powerful theme system. Both admins and users can change the look of the entire web site with just a click of a mouse. There are also over 1000 themes available for download.
One of the project leaders, Michael Beck, and I spoke about the project and its development journey over the last 10 years. Michael tells me that the current leadership team has been together since 2007, but a few of the developers go back to 2001, when the project started. Keeping the team together and focusing on the big picture have been a big challenge for them. “There will be always tensions and disagreements on Open Source projects,” Michael says, “but as long as people respect each other and don’t burn bridges, they will be still able to work together. So it’s important to stay calm (which is sometimes very hard) and avoid, if possible, escalation of issues, and focus on the positive. There are always positive things happening, sometimes you just need to look harder for them.”
Michael advises that small projects focus on “community building and deliverables.” He says, “You need to create a strong and positive supportive community, because if people invest their free time, they don’t want to go to an environment where there are constant fights and flames. On the other hand, if you have a very nice community, but you don’t have an active development, you’ll fail too, because it will become a social club and without updated product, you will lose the users. So it’s always a tough balance between those two.”
Also important is promoting and marketing your product. “Open source projects only thrive when they have a critical mass of users,” he says, and cautions projects from being the “best kept secret.”
Right now, the project is on the move again. Under the leadership of their Lead Developer, Taiwen Jiang, they have rewritten XOOPS from scratch using Zend Framework, a definitely very challenging undertaking. Michael says their goal is to be the Number One CMS in the Zend Framework arena, and the best overall CMS they can be. They believe that by using an industry-standard PHP Framework such as Zend Framework, they will increase their “speed to market” by taking advantage of latest Web developments and vast resources provided by the framework.
I love that this project has been around for so long, and continues to succeesfully reinvent itself. I feel confident that it will only continue to grow and prosper as the years go on.