Pondering A Publishing Event

I used to do lots of events back in the day. The last big one I was really involved in was called net.congestion when I lived in Amsterdam around 2000… it was about the use of streaming media in art and activism. It actually turned about to be a huge, and timely, event.

So… now I’m pondering maybe putting something together around publishing…in the last year or so I have been fascinated by workflow in publishing. It seems to me to be a rich topic and pretty much publishing is all about workflow… if you would like to collaborate to make it happen let me know…its in the ponder stage at the moment…

PagedMedia Page Floats

Some time ago I employed Julie Blanc from my Shuttleworth Fellowship to work for the PagedMedia project. Julie has been doing amazing work and just today released this incredible article about Page Floats:

Paged Media approaches : page floats

With a running demo app: http://demos.pagedmedia.org/page-floats/

Really amazing stuff. Please share it widely!

(Julies demo code is here – https://gitlab.pagedmedia.org/JulieBlanc/demo-page-floats)

The Age of the Editor Framework

Once upon a time Substance.io was the only framework available for building editors. Now it seems we have entered a new age of editor frameworks… the leading contenders look to be:

  • ProseMirror – see this post featuring some examples plus check out this editor assembled by Atlassian.
  • CKEditor5 – once an embedded WYSIWYG style editor, it now offers an editor framework called CKEditor5. Some examples here.
  • And of course Slate and Draftjs. These two have been around for a while but I’m still getting a handle on them… their examples are a little clunky and I don’t have a sense yet as to how they compare to the above.

It is a new age. Whats interesting to me is that there is an emergent new category of software – editors built on top of editor frameworks… we don’t see many examples at this moment because it is a relatively new field – ProseMirror was 1.0 only late last year, the latest CKEditor5 1.0 beta was also released only a few months ago,  while Substance released a beta over a year ago (they are yet to release a stable 1.0).

But examples will come in time. I think we will see more community develop around some of these projects (ProseMirror seems to be the leading contender to me on this front), and some sophisticated apps built with these tools. The project that develops the following will start leading the field :

  1. a humming community around the libraries that provide feedback and can have input into the overall design
  2. a thriving community building apps using the libs and helping each other to do so
  3. exemplar applications (multiple) emerging out of (2)

We are watching and learning…Thanks to Jure for his research on this recently.

Some interesting stuff from Atlassian

Jure, PubSweet lead dev, found this very interesting editor built with ProseMirror and built by Atlassian:


It looks pretty good. The table editor in particular, while perhaps needing some UX love, is pretty awesome.

It is part of the Atlaskit, which is a psuedo open source design kit Atlassian released. I haven’t looked at it closely but large chunks, namely the styles, is closed source (see their styles license) but the rest uses the Apache licence. Their repo is here.

Also interesting is this blog post about their design process. Finally a project (albeit fringe open source) that talks about design workflow. Very interesting… I don’t like the ‘developerificiation’ of design (eg calling the process ‘DesignOps’) but I do like to see a project talking about design workflow. Awesome.

Things I think Open Source Needs to Address

Following on from my previous post… here are some issues I think the Open Source movement needs to address:

  1. Where is Open Source Failing?
    I believe a discussion is needed about why there is a failure of Open Source to capture the desktop and web platform space. We have some successes, notably WordPress and Chrome, Firefox, but generally speaking these two categories of software are a big fail for Open Source. How come?
  2. Are we past the era of licenses and code?
    Open Source has been preoccupied with notions of code and licensing since it started. That’s fair enough, given that the first couple of decades have been about establishing fundamentals. But aren’t we past this moment? Can’t we count issues such as licensing pretty much as solved and move on? Is it now time to put other issues at the center of the culture?
  3. Becoming a full stack culture…
    Open Source, the culture, the values, the toolset, the lexicon, all value code and developing code above all else. When will Open Source embrace all roles in software development and value them equally… what does that kind of project look like? What does a network of different skill sets need to thrive?
  4. Diversity/Gender
    This is being addressed to some degree in the last years at various open source conferences and get togethers… however, it would be good to face up to the fact that (as far as I can tell) women make up < 10% (10% seems to be the high end of estimations) of all developers in Open Source… this isn’t something just for discussion, this is an issue which required urgent action. We also need to ask ourselves why do less women participate in Open Source than in proprietary software culture?
  5. The Open Source Cultural Method
    Open Source is a culture/method for solving problems. Where can this be improved? What can we borrow from existing Software Development Life Cycles that may improve our game?
  6. Open Source tools…
    What do we need to change in existing workflow tools (eg gitlab/github) to enable Open Source culture to improve? What innovations can we bring to beat the proprietary projects?
  7. Solidarity
    What does it mean to show solidarity for other open source projects? Do we need to do it? Do we expect this from other projects towards what we are working on?
  8. Challenging cultural community tropes
    What are the failings of community staples such as the Benevolent Dictator for Life? Is open source really any different from other types of collaboration? Why do we think it’s special? What can we learn from other community efforts of shared production? What tropes hold value and which are unhealthy?
  9. Encouraging Criticism
    Why aren’t there active critical voices encouraging healthy criticism? What does that say about the culture?

This is just a starter…I am sure there are many other issues that need to be put front and center. These are my starting 9…

Where are the Open Source Critics?

I hear a lot of stupid arguments about open source. For example, this article is particularly flawed. Silly comments like “Not getting paid while seeing major corporations make hay from your volunteer labor both erodes good will.” is full of so many strange assumptions I don’t really know where to start unpacking it.

But… leaving all this aside, I do believe open source needs criticism. Well-founded, reasoned, criticism. Criticism on points of culture, on diversity, on where the open source cultural method is failing, on what open source doesn’t do well. Any movement needs this kind of refreshing of the dialog so that it can improve and, as it matures, help it tackle the next generation of issues it needs to solve.

However, for many years I believe we have seen a failure of informed  criticism of open source. I can find many who herald open source as a wonderful movement, but I do not see healthy criticism. Without it, open source risks being stuck and not moving on, which can very well be not only damaging but eventually terminal for the movement.