Birth of Joint X-Road Community

Hackathon_TLV_2013_-_(31)

Today we had a meeting with Estonian cooperation partners from RIA in the context of Ministry of Education and Culture driven project (funded also by Ministry of Finance). The project aims (among other things) to define practical community driven open source cooperation model between the countries (Estonia and Finland). During the project integration patterns with code examples are created to ease X-Road onboarding for all. All results are open source (MIT or equivalent) or open data (documents).

During the process we have come to situation where creating joint X-Road developer community between the countries makes sense and it was considered as a natural step to take. This is a historical day.

Road to joint community

It has been a long road to this point. Long story short. Deeper community style open X-Road related cooperation between Estonia and Finland was initiated in the context of EduCloud development around June 2014. Without Andres Kütt’s contact and invitation to have lunch in Helsinki to discuss X-Road REST support, we probably would not be here – creating joint developer community. That was one of the turning points. After that we initiated development of REST gateway support to X-Road, in which Petteri Kivimäki from Population Register Centre took the lead and did most of the work.

Ever since we have had practical workshops in small circle and online meetings now and then, when ever needed. Now it’s time to take the next step. All code created so far have been in Github all the time open for participation and review. As experienced developers know, having code in Github does not equal community nor actual open source development. It’s just code.

Decision to initiate open X-Road developer community

Today we decided to establish joint Slack for the developer community as well as shared Github organization. In the meeting we had participants from both sides: Andres Kütt (RIA, Architect), Heiko Vainsalu (RIA, X-Road Area Manager), Petteri Kivimäki (Systems manager, Population Register Centre), Jarkko Moilanen (Senior Advisor, Ministry of Education and Culture), Taija Björklund(Project coordinator, Sampo Software Oy).

This does not however mean that all X-Road code is added under Joint X-Road Community. Core components are still managed by Population Register Centre. What will be in the community Github in the first phase are:

  • X-Road Integration patterns. Documents will be elsewhere too and writing process takes place in coauthoring platform overleaf.com, which has github connection)
  • Code examples for basic operations in X-Road including communication with Security Server
  • Code examples related to integration patterns

Primary technology for which the code examples are created, will be defined soon. One of the strong candidates is java since X-Road is also java based. Several other programming languages and platforms were discussed: PHP, Python, Ruby, NodeJS. Heiko Vainsalu will create a ”questionare” to the Estonian X-Road community about minimal set  of technologies to find out what they consider most important. Integration patterns and code examples are beginning of process which aims at creating so called developer package or SDK for X-Road. Developer package should possibly include API standards (adopted from UK most likely), X-Road interface description and sample messages. Github organization will be created and populated soon.

This is your chance to participate in creating developer package for X-Road.

Join the community Slack from https://joinxroadcommunity.herokuapp.com/

Since we have Estonians and Finnish participants, the common language is English. Slack includes private discussions, which might be the channel for native language discussions.

Community is not the place for trolling or official X-Road technical support channel. It focuses on the items mentioned above.

Over time community should become the primary place for all X-Road technical discussions.

Behave nicely and be active. We keep Slack open for all, but if issues occur, we might need to take actions. Normal debates are of course allowed but any kind of abusive language is prohibited. You know the drill, behave as in any other viable open source communities. If you have issues in the community, first person to contact is community manager.

Community manager and events

To get things rolling, we are hiring Community Manager to initiate community portal, activate developers, help in growing the community and to act as community voice towards officials such as Population Register Centre. Community manager will start during this month. We are planning to have developer community events already this year. One of the events will be about creating code examples for the integration patterns. What we also discussed was merging of Estonian and Finnish community events. Estonia ha been organizing community events for some time. It does not make sense to have two similar events on the both sides of gulf.

Expand to global X-Road community

Community building merges now Finnish and Estonian community members. I don’t see any reason why we should stop there. Consider this as open invitation for all local X-Road developer communities around the world to join.

It’s free and open. Join the community https://joinxroadcommunity.herokuapp.com/

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