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Thread: Hey Community, how's it going?

  1. #1
    dmoran Guest

    Question Hey Community, how's it going?

    Hey Everybody,

    I've been working on a blog post about the Pentaho community for a while and I need some help.

    I am often asked questions like "how big is the community?", "how are the downloads looking?" or my favorite "how's the community doing?" The problem I have with these questions is that I can't give an answer without a lot of explanations and without understanding the real question. The "how big" question is especially hard since it usually follows a statement like "I just saw a post that says Jasper has 150,000 community members, how big is Pentaho's community?" or "How many Pentaho downloads are there?" It's like asking "How much CPU, memory and hard disk space does Pentaho require?" Well, it depends.

    So... The blog post I'm writing should answer the underlying questions like what do you mean by community? Is it everybody who has ever said, written or heard the word Pentaho? Anyone who came to the web site? Filled out a form? Anyone who downloaded it? Did they have to get it working or use it in production? I can do this all the way down to - did they have to submit code? Do people stop being community members if they haven't interacted in a week, month, year? FYI - I Personally think community implies shared participation.

    Another question I will answer is the downloads question which is similarly ambiguous. Does that count only product downloads or anything downloaded like Release Notes, white papers, libraries, patches, doc, samples, source, etc? What about other projects that include one or more of our libraries or multiple downloads of the same version by the same person. Does a single download with 5 applications count as 1 or 5? Again, I can do this all day.

    Even with all the ambiguity, these two questions can be answered by applying definitions and metrics. Since I have of an awesome set of BI tools, it's pretty straight forward. The really hard one is, "how's the community doing?" I usually answer with a "well, they still say 'hi' to me on IRC and we haven't been forked." Which is a response that seems to make people uncomfortable (especially the board) and is usually followed up by "what do you do again?"

    So, how is the community doing? I have my own opinion based on interactions with the most active and vocal community members as well as monitoring the social networks like IRC, Twitter, Forums etc. That's all well and good but what about feedback from the actual community?

    Please take some time and give feedback on all the questions raised above and also tell us why you are part Pentaho community or why you think you're not. Tell us what brought you here, how long you've been here, what keeps you here and any other comments you think would add to the discussion. It is also an opportunity to tell us what's good, what needs improvement and what really sucks, you can assume we already know about the documentation.

    I look forward to your answers, I think this could become long lived and very interesting thread.

    Thanks,
    Doug

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    2,497

    Default

    Comparing downloads is absolutely meaningless. Specially on BI, everyone should know that numbers are only comparable when they have things in common. You mentioned Jasper compared to Pentaho cause surely it's the biggest comparison people ask you to do. But can you really compare the 2 of them? Take a look at the forum numbers:


    Platform threads:
    Jasper: 4k;
    Pentaho: 4k

    Reporting threads:

    Jasper
    : 18k (jasperreports) + 12k (ireports);
    Pentaho: 8k

    Analysis threads:
    Jasper: 300;
    Pentaho: 5k (forums) + 1k (mailing list)

    ETL threads:
    Jasper: 250;
    Pentaho: 10k

    Dashboard threads:
    Jasper: - ;
    Pentaho: 1k

    Other threads:
    Jasper: - ;
    Pentaho: A lot


    Anyone looking at this numbers can immediately tell that we have, on one side, a BI Tool and on the other a Reporting tool. Why compare different things?


    Going back the the main question, I have a suggestion. Next time someone asks you "how's the community doing?", instead of answering, why don't you:




    I'd say the community is doing very well, thank you, and tell them we send our best regards.
    Pedro Alves
    Meet us on ##pentaho, a FreeNode irc channel

  3. #3

    Default

    The community is the only reason I get out of bed in the morning......

    Its my life and means everything to me.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I feel like a huge beneficiary of the Pentaho community. I'm not going to show up in the stats as a code contributor, because I don't have the Java skills. I have been able to implement the BI Server and analysis for my city government. We've been using Pentaho CE reporting and analysis for about three years. It has been a very successful project. I've recently been training more staff to use PRD so I'm not the single source of new reports. I'm really pleased to be able to introduce them to PRD 3.6.2 which streamlines so much of the report design process.

    I've also been able to set up Pentaho reporting for the school district where I graduated from high school. It is in a rural area where a large percentage of the students are below the poverty line. They could never dream of purchasing proprietary BI tools. Faced with mandatory testing, they really needed a better understanding of their data. It has been a very rewarding project.

    I'd like to contribute more to the community. In the near future maybe I'll try to contribute to the wiki. I've been hesitant to do that because I have learned a lot of Pentaho by trial and error. I think I understand what different features do, but I'm not always sure. I suppose that's the point of a wiki, though. It's easier for someone else to follow me and correct some minor errors than to write a document from scratch.
    Last edited by Nathan; 08-13-2010 at 09:14 AM.

  5. #5

    Default

    On a slightly more serious(but very biased) note, I think the Pentaho community is thriving and generally very happy. I know I caused a storm a few weeks back combininng a lot of random thoughts and comment from across the community into 2 slightly weird blog posts, but all in all the community is thriving and obviously its not an accident. I selected Pentaho 4 years ago for pretty much that reason, I wasn't interrested in the stack and what it could do as much, as I had no real idea about BI and I just wanted an automated way to create xls's without 10000 lines of VBA, I selected Pentaho because it had an active and helpful community which the Pentaho Corp did their utmost to promote. That in turn brings users and drives sales, so nice one Pentaho.

    The really hard one is, "how's the community doing?" I usually answer with a "well, they still say 'hi' to me on IRC and we haven't been forked."
    This is an interesting one, as a community everyone is talkative, if not as gobby as myself, Doug does an excellent job at channeling thoughts and concerns from the community to the right guys behind the scenes, so don't worry Doug we'll always talk to you And forking? That to my knowledge has never been considered by anyone, and I can tell you why, employing Aaron and getting him to come up with the most rediculously complex build system on the planet was the best thing you could have done to prevent it Only joking, there has never been any discussion about forking or similar because as a community everyone is happy with the way things work, we know for instance that if we build something, we can easily include it in our own stack and if it gains enough traction it will be eventually combined into the CE server or similar, that goes for bugs, patches and plugins, and it keeps us sweet

    Often in job interviews I get asked if I've used any other stuff, jasper, talend etc.... my response is always the same. No. Don't get me wrong I would use them if there was a requirement or need that Pentaho couldn't provide, but I don't see that happening so I remain content in my own little Pentaho world.

    Keep it up!

    Tom
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  6. #6
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    Doug,

    I also think that comparing downloads isn't a good metric to judge how a community is going. The spirit of a community is made by all the people that every day gives a precious help in coding, helps people understanding the product or coming out from problems (that they think they are hard but they aren't) and talks about the product.

    I personally come from another experience with another important opensource community (not a BI product). From the outside, I remember, everything seemed wonderful. The product stayed for a very long time on top as the best project in one of the biggest open source forges. But from the inside everything was totally different and the approach was really cold.

    Here may experience is totally different, I'm breathing a completely different air. I found real people that cooperates everyday helping each other to solve their everyday problems with the product or other related technologies. They support people through irc, the forums and the wiki. I'm a software architect so I decided to help mainly with code contributions, but also in the forums and in writing articles about some pentaho topics in my blog. I studied and I'm continuously studying the code and I'm working with wonderful guys: Pedro, Tom, Paul and many other.

    In our Pentaho community, the irc channel is the something I really enjoy but unfortunately I can participate only a few times because very often the various proxies broke my ability to connect. It's a sort of noisy room where anyone expose problems and quickly gets solutions. You always find someone available to support you. But it is also a place to talk with friends about everything. A sort of meeting place. That is wonderful.

    I said friends not colleagues and this is a very important distinction. These are the things that makes me thinking that IT IS really a community that works and not the number of downloads or any other stupid indicator.

    Sergio
    Last edited by sramazzina; 08-13-2010 at 06:26 PM.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Doug,

    I agree with the preivious posts, the community is doing very well. The community members are great. Genuine nice people with an honest interest in advancing the community projects and the Pentaho ecosystem. They are helping each other and also support newbies to develop an initial understanding. Yes, sometimes it can be a bit rough in the IRC channel or on the forums, but in general you'll find help if you are willing to put in some effort yourself.

    To answer Dougs questions. I have been around in the community for about 4-5 years, I suppose. My level of particcipation has not been steady during that time. Depending on available time and projects it varied. My driver to participate or contribute is usually project/work related. I contributed to various projects, mostly small stuff, that I needed in my work. Exception might be seeding CDF together with Pedro, who has done a great job taking CDF to where it is now. I always regarded myself a community member, even through the dry spills. I have stuck around because I believe in OSBI as a concept and in Pentaho as a leader in that space. Pentaho has a vision of a complete OSBI stack and the parts to deliver it. Last but not least, I have mainly worked in Pentaho related projects lately and promoted OSBI where I could. Therefore I have an interest in Pentaho and OSBI gaining more and more traction, just for selfish reasons. ;-)

    Well, I'm looking forward to some face time with the community members and Pentaho people at the community gathering in Portugal. Knowing the bunch, it should be great fun and highly educating at the same time.

    Personally I'm a bit worried about the trend, that the CE and EE editions are getting less and less compatible, espesially in regards to dashboards and analysis implementations.

    Regards,
    Ingo

  8. #8
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    Doug,

    I also find myself in agreement with others on this thread. I feel the sense of community in IRC and the forums. Pentaho as a suite feels very active, alive and progressive. Pedro's analysis of how many forum posts exist between Jasper products and Pentaho products makes sense to me. Download counts do not mean the same thing as McDonald saying 'billions and billions served'. The community appears very healthy to me. I'm glad the Pentaho suite has enough substance to it to be perceived as a 'solution creativity toolkit'. There's an awful lot to learn about it to be effective, and it looks like the truth of the matter is that every BI job is a custom job. Quality help will never experience a lack of demand.

    I can echo Ingo's concern about a divergence of CE and EE. It's unnecessary. EE or CE, the suite will not become a 'drop in, we don't need any help' kind of proposition. On the contrary, help will always have value, read monetary, and as the freely available tools continue to be enhanced, it will draw people to the flock. The innovation, attention to detail and focus on end user experience continuing to improve will cause a lot of ancillary economic booms around the Pentaho suite. Although our company has contributed very little in the way of code, we are happy to sponsor Pentaho by way of re-upping annual subscriptions, sharing knowledge we have gained in pursuit of solutions that serve us, and actively managing our projects to reward those people with the capacity and innovative ability to continue to polish these tools.

    I admire the contributors to these projects and hope their faith in the impact they have will remain strong.
    Thanks all of you for your contributions and support over the last year or so.

    Best regards,

    Brandon

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    its the best community i had ever seen and currently it is going on superbly at obvious pace...great platform to enjoy here
    Last edited by LidiaSchreck; 05-20-2013 at 07:56 AM.
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  10. #10

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    I really enjoyed visiting this forum. A great community where you can learn great ideas!
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