What happens when a corporation tries to restructure (or even power grab) an open source project? Miro found out the hard way, when they tried to reorganize the development of Mambo. The case could prove to be a warning for all open source projects that have associated corporations.
The Mambo Foundation held a poll to see where everyone wanted to begin development. The results of this democratic approach have just been released:
480 responses were received, the vast majority from developers. The responses showed a clear preference for developing Mambo functionality along more robust lines. Respondents seemed to indicate a desire to see an increase in functionality, even if it came at the cost of additional complexity.
The most commonly requested new feature was, perhaps not surprisingly, an increase in the capabilities of the Mambo user management system. Another hot topic was the inclusion of enhanced multi-lingual abilities, reflecting Mambo’s increasingly strong role overseas, in non-native English countries. (source)
Joomla is a bit vaguer on their exact areas for development. Suffice it to say, their roadmap says the next few months will be spent in these areas: “UI Enhancements, Administrator Translation, New Features.”
This is also a time for the two parties to promote their brand, and Mambo has gotten heavy handed in this aspect. Besides releasing MamboLove.com, Miro has tried promoting more Mambo Days and community events. Joomla promoted each step of their creation, from the announcement of their name to the contest for their logo. The contest has finally finished, and Joomla is ready to re-brand their software.
A Test for Both
This will be the test for both companies. Mambo stands the test of completely restructuring and starting with an all new team; if the foundation lives up to expectations though, it will allow Mambo much more flexibility and usefulness than Joomla to commercial uses. It could more easily allow investors to request features, and perhaps the foundation could offer certification classes.
Brian Teeman also says that the Joomla developers are very excited to own the project's copyrights and not have to go through a corporation to get needed money; their slight restructuring resembles the purpose of the original Mambo Foundation that the MCS had agreed on. An important aspect of understanding Joomla is that it is not a fork in the software. Joomla has all the core developers working in the same structure as they did before. They are only using a different name. As confusing as it sounds, Mambo is effectively the fork from Mambo. The Mambo everyone knows has been repackaged as Joomla and will continue as it always had. If Joomla succeeds in its attempt to re-brand Mambo, they may pull over the user base with them.
However, most people will be watching the first several releases of both to determine which one will be a stronger CMS. Still it’s sad to see such an issue rip apart a thriving open-source community. In the past, some project forks have rejoined. However, Mambo and Joomla sound so polarized that it seems unlikely. The people who are really losing are those who rely on the software. Many have already declared that they are now avoiding both CMS makers, since this makes the community appear very unreliable.