August 7, 2001

The state of Midgard -- August 2001

Author: JT Smith

We're not sure if this is the case, but it seems that the weekly summary of Midgard-related news has been replaced by a monthly progress report. The August issue discusses documentation issues, the progress of a 1.4.2 bugfix release, and announcements of new applications.
The State of Midgard - August 2001

Midgard is a freely-available solution for managing content on web and
WAP services. It is also a toolkit for building dynamic applications
to power eBusiness and Information Management processes. Midgard has
been built and is actively maintained by a global group of software
professionals working together in this Open Source project.

              http://www.midgard-project.org/http://www.nemein.com/midgard/http://www.aurora-linux.com/EN/produits/midgard/midgard3/

The software

Midgard currently works very well with its PHP4 bindings. While few
functionalities have been added since 2000, the feature set is quite
enough for almost any Web application development needs, especially by
embedding external systems using integration standards like XML-RPC.

The feature set includes:

     * Easy and documented PHP4 Application Programming Interface (API)
     * Tree-based content storage
     * Attachment of meta-data to all content objects
     * Multiple levels of personalization
     * Replication between servers for clustered environments and staging
     * Separation of layout, content and site logic
     * Support for editorial workflow and approval mechanisms
     * Multilingual support and localization
     * Transparent file and attachment management
     * Completely Open Source and based on common standards

The 1.4.1 release made in March 14th 2001 is the current stable
version of Midgard. However, it suffers from some severe bugs, and so
usage of the latest CVS version is adviced. See:
http://nightlybuilds.midgard-project.org/snapshots/

The core developers are working on a bug fix 1.4.2 release, that
should appear around late August - early September, depending on how
quickly some segmentation fault issues are tracked down. See:
http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=midgard-dev&m=99710702212898&w=2

However, the 1.4.2 release should be the last of the 1.x series, as
the development focus is being moved to the Midgard 2 series.

The first commercial implementations of Midgard 2, particularly its
internal search system have already been made in May 2001 by Nemein
Solutions. The experiences from these implementations prove that parts
of Midgard 2 are ready for production use.

The next anticipated release of Midgard 2 search implementation is
scheduled for late August.

Installation

With the coming 1.4.2 release, the installation process seems to be
easier than ever. Although already simple to install on popular Linux
platforms like Red Hat and Mandrake, more work would be needed to make
binary packages available to the user community.

Documentation

Midgard's documentation project has been on hold since late 2000,
causing the documentation online to be outdated and lacking in
information on newer features.

Partly this is because the project has been looking for new
documentation tools, but also because there are no paid documentation
authors. As in most Open Source projects, the actual development in
Midgard progresses quite well but resources for doing the
documentation work are harder to find.

Applications

During spring 2001 Repligard has finally become a viable packaging
platform, and so some early Midgard applications have already appeared
into the market.

   Asgard is an improved administration interface to Midgard developed
   by Aurora. It has been included in the midgard-data package since
   the 1.4 release.

   CommenText is a collaborative document authoring system for
   transforming discussion into structured documents. See
   http://www.commentext.org/

   DocStore is Nemein's Web-based document management solution for
   project workgroups. See http://www.nemein.com/products/docstore/

   MidHoo is a Midgard implementation of a Yahoo!-like link directory
   application produced by Link-M. See
   http://home.link-m.de/phr/midhoo-2.0.2a.tar.bz2

   Nadmin Studio is HKLC's advanced content management interface to
   Midgard that is available as a commercial application. Nadmin Studio
   has made Midgard suddenly a viable content management solution for
   even large companies, and has an extensive reseller network around
   the world. See http://www.nadminstudio.com

   TimeTracker is Nemein's project management, invoicing and work
   tracking application that uses Midgard as the back end data storage
   system. See http://www.nemein.com/products/timetracker/

   YAMP (Yet Another Midgard Packager) is front end to Repligard for
   packaging and moving Midgard data from Link-M. See
   http://users.nehmer.net/~classic/yamp-1.0.1.tar.gz

Community

The Midgard community has gained in numbers and activity during the
year. The mailing list volume on the Midgard user list has climbed
from 440 in May 2000 to 921 in May 2001.

There is also a Midgard user group in Germany. Its previous activities
have included localization of some Midgard material to German, and
running a Midgard booth in LinuxTag, the largest Free Software event
in Germany.

Also, Nemein Solutions has started running a series of Midgard
seminars and installfests in Finland. A Repligard seminar was held by
Alexander Bokovoy on June 21st, and there will be an installfest on
Aug 14th.

The Midgard Web site is still sadly lacking upgrades. However, it has
recently been moved from Teraloop's hosting to Envida's network. This,
and the upgrade to the latest Midgard version on the server means that
making new developments on the site should be easier for anyone
willing to take the task.

Core developers

With the Midgard core developer team, the situation has changed quite
much from last year. Most are not any more paid by Aurora to work full
time on Midgard. However, almost everybody still involved in the
project. While this somewhat reduces the number of resources available
for the development work, it is also a great opportunity for new
volunteers to get involved.

   Henri Bergius is kept busy by his work at Nemein Solutions. He would
   like to be more involved in the project, but at the moment can't
   find time for it. However, he tries to commit resources from his
   company to the project whenever available.

   Alexander Bokovoy is now working at SaM-Solutions, a software
   outsourcing company based in Belarus. In the Midgard project he
   works on core libraries and the PHP4 bindings.

   Ami Ganguli has recently moved to Finland for his position in Nemein
   Solutions. He continues to work on Midgard 2 as part of his work
   duties.

   Emile Heyns is currently enjoying a well earned vacation from the
   project. However, he still works on bug and issue reports as the
   come.

   Torber Nehmer provides bug tracking services for the Midgard 1.4.x
   series, and works for the Midgard hosting provider Link-M. In his
   spare time, he is also involved in Midgard 2 development.

   Armand Verstappen works in the Midgard hosting provider and
   consultancy Envida. He is also involved in managing Midgard's
   network services and is visible on the mailing lists.

The Midgard Project Ry

The Midgard Project Ry (MPRy) is a nonprofit organization founded in
Finland on May 2000 to support the Midgard project. The registration
papers on the organization were submitted to the National Board of
Patents and Registration of Finland in June 2000. The board requested
changes to MPRy's charter in order to approve the registration.
However, due to personal matters Henri Bergius, the chairman of MPRy
was unable to call together a general meeting of the organization,
and so the registration period has expired.

Because of this, new volunteers will be needed for running the
organization, and getting the registration process going again. There
is still obvious need for MPRy, as the project's network
infrastructure requires some financial support, and the intellectual
property rights of the project need to be stewarded.

Volunteers interested in helping out with MPRy can contact Henri
Bergius or the Midgard mailing list on the matter.

Commercial viability

Midgard has continued to gain commercial viability through the
year. As Midgard itself is a platform, and not a sellable product,
many kinds of add-on businesses have been made possible.

There are companies around the world that make their revenues through
selling consulting and hosting services and applications based on
Midgard. These include Aurora, CGX, Envida, Hexagon, Hong Kong Linux
Center, Lanifex, Link-M, Nemein Solutions, Netrex, and others.

With more and more Midgard-powered sites and information systems
popping up every month, the services market keeps gaining
attractiveness. Currently most providers of Midgard services are
small, quite locally operating businesses, but it is only a matter of
time before larger IT consultancies begin to notice the possibilities
of the market.

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