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Fri 30 May 2003
The phpbb2 Bulletin Board System
Category : Commentary/phpbb2.txt
After a day with phpbb2, I think it's got fantastic potential as a content management tool. It boggles the mind (to use a hackneyed phrase) to think that these (including YabbSE) are freely downloadable tools, easily set up in minutes, and have (in the case of phpbb2) great documentation, too.
I'm going to use phpbb2 over YabbSE because it seems slicker and better organised (especially in the way the code is packaged because I'd like to study the code). Behind the software, I think, is a supremely gifted designer (or group of designers). Do you realise that this is an Open Source Project and nobody is paid anything to do it?
Any business can benefit from these tools. You can run a help desk for the users of your product. Your users can help each other. You can set up private discussion groups for internal staff, contractors, management, etc... You can capture useful knowledge, facilitate communication, arbitrate disputes. You can move the info around - from the private to the pubic domain and back. And, because the code is available, you can extend it to work with other parts of your business system.
But the question I'm pondering is : how come this method of development works? The developers, designers and testers come from all over the world. Many likely have never met face to face. They don't get paid (at least not directly from the project). They're fast. The whole thing just works. I love the design because they've thought of most things and they do the 80% most common tasks very well. And you don't really need to read the manual.
Is it the Open Source nature of things? These guys may be fast because they can grab code from all over the place to re-use in the system? Is it because they know how to make the good trade-offs? Is it because they live on the cutting edge, not just of technology, but also of a new way of living which requires an ability to think, negotiate, arbitrate and communicate, within a framework of self-restraint and understanding for the rights of the commons?
It's a different world from the plodding nature of most in-house IT departments. I just know we've got to learn something from this.