SpaceStack – an 091 Labs project in progress

SpaceStack

SpaceStack is a project that is taking form from the many hacks and hours of work that have gone into putting this site together.

WordPress is used by most hackerspace sites. It’s easy to set up and it’s easy for non-techies to use. It requires little maintenance, has a great community behind it and has lots of themes and plugins. It’s simple to install and use, and saves a lot of the the effort involved in creating a website. However, it’s primarily for blogs, and tends to lack proper support for many necessary features: Wiki, Forum, Mailing List integration, Events management & calendars.

The goal is to create a re-distributable WordPress package that provides all of these features in a package that can be distributed, themed, and installed with a few clicks by any community space that is starting up. It eliminates ‘fracturing’ (a term I owe to the great Mark Grealish), where mailing lists, calendar, wiki etc. are not integrated with the site, which hinders communication between participants of the space.

 

License

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

 

What participants can learn from this project

This is a beginner-friendly project. Here are some of the areas involved in the development of the project:

– HTML and CSS
– Javascript & jQuery
– PHP
– WordPress theming
– WordPress plugin development
– Interacting with the Twitter and Google Calendar APIs
– Software engineering approaches (Scrum)
– Software engineering tools and methods:
–> Eclipse for development
–> Firebug for debugging
–> Selenium for testing
–> SVN for source code control
–> Trac for bug and feature tracking

 

Workshop Model

This project will be a learning experiment for the project-based approach to running the space. General workshops will be run at the beginning of the project so that participants can become familiar with the tools listed above and learn basic software engineering and programming concepts. After this, workshops respond to the needs of members and are open for any participant of the project to run. If a participant in the project is having trouble with a topic, they can request workshops to be run, or for smaller topics get one-on-one help. Having a chance to ask questions when you’re stuck is invaluable, particularly with coding.

The philosophy of the workshops is one of active learning. Hopefully there will be an atmosphere where people feel encouraged and obliged to put forward their thoughts and ideas in meetings and workshops, instead of sitting for hours listening to someone else talk (I hate being talked at for long periods and wouldn’t inflict it upon anyone else).

Workshops will be open to the public at a cost of €6 per workshop.

 

Project Overview

Features I’ve been working on (all close to release):
– WPTweet (update Twitter using your WordPress login)
– User login widget
– Wiki integration using Dokuwiki

Desired features:

– SimplePress (forum for WordPress) extended so that it can act as a mailing list.
– Members page with a plugin that lets you add fields (e.g. a “project interests” text box)
– Contact form (plugin available already, I just want the form pre-configured)
– A custom theme that ships with the project
– Photo gallery that can be sorted into categories
– Events calendar and management system

 

Timeframe

If there are at least 8 participants, a date for a beta release of the software will be set at Saturday October 30th (8 weeks from now).

 

How to get involved

Members can get involved by replying to the thread on the member’s mailing list. Collobaration with other spaces is also welcome.

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