I love open source. Why? Here’s a fairly representative example.
Following Patrick Murray-John’s excellent post and bootstrapping of a new AjaxCreate plugin for Omeka, I speculated on the Omeka Dev List about whether some related technologies and methods could be used to power a plugin to handle controlled vocabularies and authority lists, something Omeka currently lacks and our users (including internal CHNM users) really want. After some back and forth among developers at three institutions—and some very important input from a non-technical but very smart (and very brave!) member of Omeka’s end user community—we were able 1) to determine that AjaxCreate probably wasn’t the right vehicle for managing controlled vocabularies, and 2) to lay out some informal specs for a separate, lightweight ControlledVocab plugin. Patrick then set to building it and today introduced an alpha version of ControlledVocab to the dev list.
All of this happened in less than a week. Through the combined efforts of developers and users, the Omeka community was able to identify, describe, and make some ambitious first steps toward pluging a hole in the software. The moral of this story is get involved. Whether you’re a developer or an end user, go download some open source software (Omeka would be a nice choice), test it out (how about the ControlledVocab plugin?), post bugs and feature requests to the forums or dev lists, and see what ensues.
Often it’s something marvelous.