Colin, Fiona and I recently attended the Koha Community Conference in Edinburgh; the conference is an international gathering of Koha users, vendors and developers and is the perfect opportunity to match faces to the names and email addresses that regularly pop up in this broad and far reaching open source project.
The three day conference consisted of a broad range of presentations and discussions relating to the project, some of which I found especially interesting and have outlined below.
The first presentation by Chris Cormack (Catalyst, NZ), entitled “It’s all about the people”, emotively engaged the audience emphasizing the importance of the people making up the community surrounding the Koha open source project. He noted that the project has its ups and downs like every other software project (Open and Closed Source), but that we have far more good times than bad. He concluded that we have a very strong community where everyone from the library staff through to developers and service providers is actively engaged and gives back to the project.
Following Chris’s presentation was Nason Bimbe (British Library for Development Studies, UK) who delivered an excellent presentation about his experience migrating to Koha from a bespoke solution. Titled, “Migrating to Koha – The Hard Decisions”, it focused on their decision making process and highlighted that the community and support available within it was one of the big reasons they chose Koha. He concluded that the project had been a great success so far and he was looking forward to continuing to work with his service providers, us.. which is always great to hear. (Slides)
Paul Poulin (Biblibre, FR) later spoke at length about the ongoing work in developing a sandbox system to enable librarians to get involved in the testing of new features and bug fixes. He highlighted the need for the community to enable a lower level of entry for the testing of bug fixes and enhancements to allow the project to continue to grow as more complex features are developed and are struggling to make it through the Quality Assurance Process. This is a difficult problem to solve and it’s great to see innovative solutions to the problem being put forward; This should significantly lower the barrier for entry into contributing to the project whilst maintaining high coding standards; I think it’s a great move!
Other very interesting presentations include, but are not limited to, Olugbenga Adara’s discussion about using Koha in Developing Countries (Slides), Jared Camins-Esakov and Zeno Tajoli’s talks about Analytics and Linking records, Kyle M Halls’ update on the state of Koha’s offline circulation modules (Blog Post) and finally Marcel de Roys’ presentation on SRU (Blog Post).
The final presentation I would like to draw attention to is Alex Arnaud’s (Biblibre, FR) “Liking Koha with Drupal” which draws many parallels to our own work on a Rebus:Home project. Maybe we will see some collaboration growing on this front too… watch this space!
The three day conference was followed by a three day Developers Hackfest, which Colin and I attended. This was a more informal gathering and concentrated on discussions about the internals of Koha’s code and technical governance, all whilst a friendly competition ensued to implement and test as many new features and bugs fixes as we could in the three day period.
We kicked of with a presentation on the strengths of Template Toolkit (Chris Cormack) and how we could better take advantage of them. We then broke off into dropin sessions that discussed various aspects of Koha.
Colin attended the the group discussing Plack, a technology which we feel could greatly improve the overall performance of Koha and is already under heavy development.
I attended a discussion regarding the Debian Packaging of Koha. It was very interesting to see how the different vendors are deploying and maintaining Koha and I think this is perhaps a direction we should investigate as well.
Colin and I both attended some interesting discussions regarding Code Govournance and Maintenance during which we debated the use of Gerrit for a simpler Quality Assurance procedure, and a plan was formed for the migration to a more objective coding model within the new Koha namespace.