Ingy 2.ö

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Social Fork

UPDATE: It appears that Socialtext has changed their mind. :-)

At the start of this month I was laid off by my employer of the last 5+ years, Socialtext. I was Socialtext's first hire, presumably to gain my expertise from developing the open source wiki, Kwiki. Since then, Socialtext has grown to employ as many as 50 people and has become the defacto leader in enterprise wiki software. They have branched out into other social software directions, and Kwiki, sadly, has all but died.

Many of the other people hired by Socialtext were leaders in open software. Socialtext, much to my delight, fully embraced open source, and actually opened all of their wiki source code several years ago. At the beginning of this year, Socialtext moved all of their code to GitHub, making it even more publicly accessible.

Last autumn there was talk at work of closing the open repositories. My thought at the time was that if they did, someone should fork all the open code. That's just the right thing to do, since the point of open source code is to keep it open for as long as it is relevant. At that point, I bought the domain name This was in keeping with the tradition of our developers making anagrams from the word SOCIALTEXT. We had made up over 50, iirc, including OX IS CATTLE, TOXIC TALES and TEXT IS COAL. "Exotic Slate" (although having an extra 'e') is a fantasic representation of Socialtext's rich and elaborate wiki product.

However Socialtext did not close the code, so I had yet another domain name with no good use. Fast forward...

A couple weeks ago I asked Socialtext if I could take Wikiwyg, their richtext editor component (which I had been working on for years), and revive it as a general, open source solution. They graciously agreed. I'm currently in Oslo at the Nordic Perl Workshop with Larry Wall and other old and new friends. Yesterday, at the workshop hackathon, I went to pull the Wikiwyg code out of Socialtext's main repository on GitHub, only to find the the repository was no longer open! Once I confirmed that it was in fact, closed off, I knew what the right thing to do was.

I'm not sure what will become of Exotic Slate. That's the exciting thing about open projects... they take on a life of their own. I hope that people will join me on to take this journey forward.


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