A Proposal for an Open Source Symphony Application

In response to the questions many have been posing about the possibility of front end login, front end forms and author registration and author access control, the answer is, “Yes.”

I commissioned Twentyone Degrees to develop a few Campfire Services for me. Until now, I have sort of kept it under wraps as I develop a Design Business Administration system and as I try to wrestle with business models that would help me sustain ongoing development.

This set of campfire services includes:

  • Front End Entry Creation CS
  • Author Registration CS
  • Advanced Access Control CS

The Design Business Adminstration system is something that I needed to help me with my business processes, and it’s definitely a work in progress. So far, the feature set includes:

  • Listings for Clients, Projects and Timesheets with the ability to sort items by column in ascending and descending order
  • Time-tracking with links to automatically populate a front-end entry form with a unique entry number, client, project and project item
  • A calendar with year, month, week and day views
  • It is possible to populate the calendar with xCal XML data
  • The week view of the calendar is able to populate each hour with corresponding timesheet entries
  • A forum with posting available only for members registered through a front-end registration form
  • A front end entry form for new project requests which populates a listing of project items that can be assigned to different team members
  • A repository for brand identity assets, guidelines, and resources to keep track of logos, corporate signature formats, colours and typography
  • The system is styled after the portfolio site I created for my freelance design business, Bauhouse Design. This could easily be added as the front end of the system.

It is by no mean complete, but after several month of testing and building the application, I can say that it is a fully functioning application as it is. All of this can be installed as a Symphony theme be swapping out the workspace directory on a fresh Symphony installation. Or sections can be added to existing installs to replicate the sections and custom fields that are required by the XSL templates used by the Masters and Pages. The front end forms and author registration would not work without the Campfire Services.

I have been wondering how I can recover some of the development costs for these services, and further work will be required to complete the feature set I envision, so I’m opening this up to the community to see what people might consider the best way to continue this work. I would like to be able to offer the XSLT templates I have created to the community as a first possible step toward building an open source community for Symphony, in keeping with the stated goals of the Symphony Development Team to offer the Symphony itself as an open source application.

I was thinking I could retain ownership of the Campfire Services and offer them to the community for a licensing fee. This would be used to support the Symphony Team and further the development of the feature set of these Campfire Services. A possible problem (perhaps only for myself) would be the possibility that I might release the XSLT templates for the system for free and others will develop the Campfire Services that duplicate the same functionality as the ones already created by Twentyone Degrees and offer them for free. Then I would be out of a revenue source to continue development.

At any rate, I would rather work on this project collaboratively, as I am burning myself out working on this project on my own. I feel a little greedy keeping all this good stuff to myself. Plus, I would welcome the contributions of others to enhance the system. The beauty of it is that any particular feature of the system can be added or taken away, depending on the needs of the users.

My apologies to those who have been following the stalled progress of my “Building a Symphony Theme” series. The truth is, I became bored of the long process of creating documentation and wanted to break some new ground with a Symphony theme that had everything I have always dreamed of having in a single application. Thanks to the Symphony Team, they have actually made such an application possible. So, this would be my way of giving back to them and to the community. And, it actually seems like a good time to release the templates, since they will need to be reworked anyway for compatibility with Symphony 2.

My question to the community: what would work for you (short of giving it all away)? Specifically, how much would these Campfire Services be worth to you? That is, how much would you pay to license these Campfire Services? Or do you have any other thoughts about how revenue can be generated to sustain ongoing development of the Design Admin theme and of the Campfire Services?

26 August 2007 by Stephen Bau