June 8, 2009 will be a great day! Besides being my son's birthday, it also will mark the one year anniversary of the birth of glFusion. As we look back, we've seen rapid growth and development of glFusion, and its community, within the last year, and are pleased with how things have evolved and progressed.
By my count, we've had 11 releases of glFusion (rc's and finals combined), published and updated an almost 400 page documentation manual, released several plugin updates, and resolved 192 of 278 reported issues or feature requests. That's quite an achievement! We'd like to take a moment and thank the glFusion community for making all this possible! Without your support, input, and ideas, we surely wouldn't be where we are today! Thank you!
With that being said, we'd like now to look toward the future, and see what's on the horizon for glFusion. Put on your sunglasses, because things are looking bright! Read on...
Where are we headed?
If you look at the roadmap, you'll see that the next release of glFusion will primarily focus on layout enhancements. We've been building a pretty good foundation over the last couple of releases by adding functionality that supports layout customization. This includes:
- separating color information from other style information to make quick color customizations easier.
- including 'custom' directories in each folder where templates reside so folks can put their customizations there so they won't be overwritten on a site upgrade.
- a config switch to show template locations in page source so folks can easily see where template files come from as they are compiled to make a complete glFusion page.
- the ability to fallback to default template, css, and image files in additional layouts so they aren't redundantly included for each new layout installed in glFusion. This will make new layouts lightweight and easy to create and distribute.
With the above in place, we can now begin work on creating online tools so that layouts and layout related files can be managed, configured, and edited directly from within the glFusion interface. Similar to how the plugin auto-install process works, our goal is to allow the upload of a single layout package that glFusion will then extract and install in the appropriate location(s). We also intend to bring some layout information into the database so that folks can take advantage of the permissions system and other functionality in glFusion. There's more in the works, but we'll let that whet your appetite for now! ;-)
What you can do to help
This brings us to the point where we need input from you and the rest of the glFusion community. You'll notice the new Potential Layouts random image block in the upper left corner here at glFusion.org. These images link to entries in a gallery of over 200 open-source layouts that I've been collecting over the past few months, which we are considering including (some of them at least ;-) with glFusion. We humbly ask that you look them over and rate them according to your liking. Please keep a couple things in mind though:
- We've only included the thumbnail images (and if you click on any of them, a slightly larger lightbox version) on purpose, as the goal is to get a quick 'gut' reaction to each layout. If you would like to see the full layout, please do a Google search for the layout name. We've also turned the rating speed limit down to 3 seconds, so the rating process should go fairly quickly. :-)
- As you rate each layout, think beyond just the initial look of it, to a broader sense of how the layout could be used in a wide range of applications. Some layouts are geared towards blogging, others toward news/magazine type sites, others toward gallery presentation, etc. Give them all fair consideration and hopefully multiple types of layouts will float to the top via the rating process.
- Feel free to comment on any of the potential layouts. The more feedback we get, the better we can meet the needs of the glFusion community!
You'll also notice a new Layout Design Poll in the left column as well. Please take a moment to answer the 5 questions. Once the community has had a chance to speak out, our plan is to take the ratings and poll information and include the most popular layouts with future releases of glFusion.
Additional areas where you can help
With these new tools coming into place, it's time to start gearing up and creating new layouts. Since there aren't enough hours in the day for me to port them all over to glFusion, we are asking the community to step up and play around 'under the hood' with layouts that you find interesting.
Many hands make light work, and the more folks that pitch in, the larger the variety of layouts we will have to choose from. Feel free to browse the layout documentation and the Nouveau layout and Widget documentation and learn about all the cool stuff you can do to customize your layouts. You can also reference a tutorial I wrote a while back on porting a layout. If you need any pointers, the forums are a great place to get help and share ideas with other community members. Working together, we can put together some amazing things!!!
For those of you with mad PHP skills, your contributions in the form of plugins that extend and enhance the functionality of glFusion would be greatly appreciated. The developer documention in the wiki is a great place to start learning about all the APIs and hooks available to use in your projects. We can setup SVN repositories for plugin authors that would like to make their code available for collaboration and versioning. Also, feel free to use the resources here at glFusion (forums, wiki, etc.) to discuss your project ideas and to provide support for your work.
Half the fun in the development process (at least for me) is the chance to work with others. There are always some great ideas that slip my mind at times, and having others provide input makes my work much better. I love to feed off of Mark's energy and ideas, and I know that he feeds off of my enthusiasm and ideas as well. glFusion is all about synergy; the concept that the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts. By sharing your work, and forming friendships with other folks with the same interests, I know we can all develop something great!
Those of us that aren't PHP gurus (like myself), can still make valuable and important contributions to the glFusion community by enhancing the online documentation. Some have said before that documentation is 'boring', but I feel that it is actually one of the most interesting aspects of glFusion! I've learned so much about things you can do with glFusion by reading and editing the documentation. Give it a try!
The wiki is open and editable to anyone with a free glFusion.org site account. We strongly encourage you to take a few minutes and read about something that interests you, and then add anything that might be missing, or needs clarification. Also, we recently opened up the wiki so that it can be translated into multiple languages by folks in the community. Just look for the Translations of this page link in the top right of the wiki pages. Don't see a language listed there, just contact us and well get it on there! :-)
Use the Tracker
Finally, we always need help in submitting feature requests, ideas, and issues that you may come across, to our tracker. This way, we can make sure to focus on the things the community needs and wants, and continue to make glFusion better, more robust, and easier to use.
We encourage folks to dig deeper than just submitting a quick bug report or feature request. Feel free to browse tickets opened by others and comment on them and add your thoughts and ideas.
Spread the word about glFusion
glFusion has seen some amazing growth in the past year. We hope this trend continues and we anticipate the community will continue to flourish. Admittedly, the first year of any CMS is always approached with caution by those who use those technologies to pay the bills and feed their families. When Joomla decided to fork from the Mambo project, their first year was slow to build up steam, but just look where they are today! I know as we continue to be excited about glFusion, and tell our friends and colleagues about this great new piece of software that we've discovered, our community can reach similar achievements.
Also, please take a moment to provide feedback and ratings about glFusion at opensourcecms.com. We've seen a lot of new user traffic from the folks there, and feel that it is a great resource to attract like minded developers and users looking for a powerful yet easy to use CMS.
We've had some good times this past year taking glFusion to where it is today. As we gear up for another year of development, we'd love to hear your input and ideas. glFusion truly thrives on its community. We are grateful and honored to have you with us. Drop us a line soon, and Happy Surfing! :-)