It all started out with a simple question Pavol Rusnak asked on the openSUSE Conference ’09
What are we really doing when we develop a new tool to handle openSUSE users and groups?
The answer was simple: Connecting people to projects, groups and with each other. Connecting faces to names, nicknames and to email addresses. In the end connecting all our other tools to this one so we can share the data. These are the fundamental ideas behind our newest openSUSE tool: connect. In the following months the openSUSE Boosters and friends started to work on this tool based on Elgg. An open source social networking engine, that delivers the building blocks that enable us to create our own fully-featured social network. And today we release it to you, the openSUSE Community.
What is connect?
First and foremost connect is a user database. The openSUSE project operates a lot of tools and most of them require users to authenticate to operate them, have some kind of access level for different user types (groups) and possibly other attributes stored for the user like contact information, an avatar or a description of the person. Instead of having to enter and maintain this information over and over again in each tool, connect is the first step in centralizing this.
Secondly connect introduces the nowadays mandatory social features. Instead of rather boring collection of user attributes, connect reflects the social relations among the openSUSE community. It allows the users to share activities, places, events and interests within their network. It truly helps you to connect with other lizards.
And what can I do with it?
Make friends and tell them about yourself. See what they are up to in the Build Service, openFATE or Bugzilla. Find out who your friends, friends are or get your openSUSE business cards. Or how about you gang up in groups and collaborate in discussions, run your own polls and create your groups events? You can also apply to be an openSUSE Member and vote in project wide polls like the openSUSE Board election. And more!
Can I improve it?
connect is far from done and is constantly under development, so please help out! Are you able to explain complicated IT coherences so your grandma can understand them? Help us to document the various tools and processes in connect. Is web-development your thing and you master any HTML/CSS? Then improve the whole user experience. Or is PHP coding your thing? Get your editor out then and extend this tool to your needs. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, connect is based on an open source social networking platform called Elgg. They have fantastic documentation on how to theme it, getting started with Elgg development or how to extend it with plugins. They also run their own community where you can talk to other Elgg developers and users.
You can read, check out and alter the code that is running on connect.opensuse.org in our gitorious repository http://gitorious.org/opensuse/connect and communicate with us about your changes on our mailing list opensuse-web, so get going. Happy Hacking!
Enjoy this new addition to the family of openSUSE tools
…and don’t forget to mingle today!
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