Last Friday (16th March) I had the pleasure of meeting my friends of the DNN community in France again. It has been a while since I saw them last and I extended and detoured a previously planned business trip so I could be there. The wife didn't seem to mind the extension. Instead, she opted to join me there so we could have a weekend in Paris. Not a bad idea ...
First some background about the French DNN group. The core team has no French members. If you add to this the fact that the French like their stuff in French even in IT (less so in my native Holland for instance), you can understand they live somewhat isolated from the wider DNN community. This is a real pity because they are one of the oldest and most active DNN country communities I know (they have a better running community than DNN CH or NL from what I know). My role in the French community is to try and improve communications between them and the core team and/or the European community.
Back to the last Friday. The venue was Microsoft HQ on the banks of the Seine, a stone's throw away from the Eiffel tower. Not bad for a place of work eh? About 50 people made their way there from all over France (and me from neighbouring Switzerland, hehe). Each heavily into DNN. Needless to say the first and foremost subject of discussion was localization. I guess most Anglopones are utterly unaware of the amount of work that goes into translating the core and it's modules at the pace in which they are released. The two principals of the French DNN community (and the organizers of this event) are Benoît Sarton and David Thomas. They've taken it upon themselves to make sure everything gets translated, rolled into a language pack, and distributed. Luckily they get help from various community members. Then I made a bizarre discovery. When I asked Benoît whether he had seen DNN 4.5 he replied: 'uh, no. I'm just a gold benefactor'. So these people who sink countless hours into making DNN an option for Francophones and do not even get advance versions from the core team. The least the core team can do is supply them with the material they need to do their work. A gross oversight IMO. I've written Shaun Walker about this and I'm curious as to what his thoughts are on this.
Perhaps illustrative of the isolation was the presentation of Gilles Le Pigocher, a very fanatic DNN module developer. He is heading a small team of French developers that are working on a next-gen Store module for DNN. Aparently they've repeatedly sought contact with both the core team and the store project team to put forth suggestions and offer their help to improve the store module. In their words they never got a reply. I know that the store team has been reshuffled and now my good friend Will Morgenweck has taken charge. I hope he will be more responsive. The French team, in the meantime, has given up hope and are fast on their way to create a nice enhancement of the WWStore module (which is based on the core store module). You could tell the level of frustration with the core store module's progress by the amount of attendees who had some fork of this module (I have one myself as well). My concern is that it is inevitable that the payment processors are integrated into the core one day, IMO. It is plain nuts that every commercial module needs to reinvent the wheel and the sooner this gets architected the better.
Between raves and rants, MS got a chance to present WPF/e which soothed us all I think. For those of you not quite with the programme: this is Windows Presentation Framework (the glitsy graphics that come with Vista) for the web (the e stands for 'everywhere'). Given that this is going to be cross-platform and cross-browser I think it's safe to say bye bye Flash (which is another relief I think). It completely rethinks the concept of making UIs and is definitely launching us in the right direction IMO. I can also see DNN skinning going this way one day. But don't hold your breath. WPF/e is still CTP and not release yet.
As dessert we got a presentation from Pascal Belaud and his OlyMars tool. It is code generator not unlike CodeSmith. His strength is that he has put a lot of effort into making a solid set of DNN 4 module templates (o, and it's free). Pascal works for the big MS and is a huge Olympic Marseilles fan. At times it felt like he was on the stands cheering his side and I'll definitely give his tool a twirl.
Suffice me to say that we ended the evening in a bar not far from the MS building. It's not been my first meeting with the French DNN group and it's always a great 'ambience'. I'll try and be there next time. Maybe a little closer to where I am this time?
DNN France: http://www.dotnetnuke.fr
This event: http://www.dotnetnuke.fr/Communauté/Rencontres/Paris16mars2007/tabid/196/Default.aspx
The above is the second version of this report. The first was lost as I was typing it straight into the blog editor screen and as I hit 'post' it just showed me a login screen and all my text was lost. I all but wrecked the interior of my office in frustration. 'Aaargh' doesn't come close to what I felt ...