A New Online Presence – hub.jmonkeyengine.org

The long since promised jmonkeyengine.com/.org re-design is happening!

The why and when

Up until this point, the jmonkeyengine.com website has been running on a wide assortment of web scripts, big and small. To name a few, there’s Simple Machines Forum, DokuWiki, WordPress, Joomla! CMS. All of these major web systems also had a few extensions installed. On top of that again, to this day we’ve still relied on some handy but rather hard to maintain customizations, especially the site-wide top-menu (Joomla front-end not included).

Do we really have to explain why we decided our website needed to become more manageable?

So we found BuddyPress, a social networking component, effortlessly plugged into WordPress running as the main backend. Very long story of research, trial and error made short; WordPress is all about unobtrusive plug-ins to extend the core any which way you like, and we’ve had largely only good times with it so far.

Eventually we got as far as the proposed jmonkeyengine.com overhaul. And progress went further and further. Then we stopped to re-evaluate, identified showstoppers, reiterated on a couple solutions (doku2buddy for instance ain’t happening), “sidetracked” to Alpha2 and other such undertakings for a while, then we arrived here, at the finish line, at long last.

What’s gonna happen next

Well, a whole lot of work has gone into making sure we don’t launch the community into a crash landing when we go all-in to deploy the massive changes we have in store for our online infrastructure. We shouldn’t be talking about more than a couple of hours downtime, tops. Your login stays the same, your forum posts are still there and your bookmarks should redirect to the new URLs.

On that note, Normen really deserves some extra credit for all the work he’s put in making sure this transition would be as smooth as a newborn monkey’s ass for all of our current members. When you login to the new site with your old account name and password intact like nothing’s changed and unicorns roam free, send some positive vibes his way will ya?

Please note:
– Attachments are not transfered
– Avatars are not transferred
– Private messages are not transfered.

The .com/.org swap – Product vs Project

jmonkeyengine.org is the new website for all things community and projects, i.e. the .com successor.
jmonkeyengine.com is the new website for jME’s product promotion and professional identity.

No license has changed, no policy is different, and none of the core developers are being paid to work with jME. Being open source doesn’t mean we should not strive to act professional in every way we manage this project. Here’s a rough take on what we’re looking at:


Re-imagined community collaboration

It’s time we all get used to a slightly different, and we think a lot better, way of collaborating. Every ‘board’ our forum had dedicated to a major topic of discussion is now transformed into a group, in BuddyPress lingo. In a group, you can edit its index, upload files and pictures, link to RSS feeds, or, just discuss. Not all of the features mentioned will be available from day one though. Together, we have to assess the needs of the community as we go along.

And the best part? Some groups might not need to be extended beyond the purpose of a discussion board anyhow, and you can just go on treating every group like your good old board without worrying about the additional features. (A future version of BuddyPress will allow forums to be entirely independent of groups).

What’s new

This is best explained with an example workflow. Take the jMonkeyPlatform project for instance.

jMonkeyPlatform Project (group) has:
a Discussion board
a Code snippets directory
a GoogleCode feed
a Wiki link
a Media Gallery (soon)

The genius here is that when new users come by the jMP group, all things jMP congregate into a single space. Users will immediately be introduced to discussions, downloads, previews and directions to the development hub and documentation, all in one.

Depending on the combination of components, we can create any type of mini-hub to focus on showcase, project updates, developer collaboration, what-have-you! At first we unfortunately can not open up group creation to the public, since we’re lacking the moderator tools to manage such activity appropriately.

New rules and guidelines

There’s nothing new per se, we’re just clarifying the free terms under which you are sharing your work and content on our website. All contents on the hub.jmonkeyengine.org website are published under the ‘Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License’. Nothing has changed really; you post your code for anyone to use, save the fact that you are entitled to demand some type of attribution if you so wish to specify it. If you want to publish something under a different license, you’re covered as long as the license is clearly stated, e.g. in the post or an accompanying license.txt file.

Still to come

There’s quite the bucket-full of features we have yet to unleash on this new website. Some rely on third-party developers to complete their projects for WordPress/BuddyPress, others are simply being held off so that we’re not completely overwhelmed with alien functionality on launch-day.

The forbidden fruits

  • User & group media albums (yes, that includes videos)
  • User-created projects
  • Project styling
  • Truly unique groups (group templates)
  • Per-project file directories
  • Per-project wikis