When we started our Connect experiment in August, one goal we had for the project was to engage the tens of thousands of technical folks at Oracle in something new. We call it OpenLab, and it’s run like an Open Source project within Oracle. The only thing we ask participants to do is use free time for Connect to avoid any impact on product deliverables.
Rich made the source code for Connect available to anyone who wants to learn a new language (Ruby), show off mad skills and be part of something new that’s used by 30% of the company, not bad for an application that’s spread virally. Plus, we have only two guys writing code for Connect as work, Rich and Anthony, our new guy, so scaling across all the features we want to build and all the enhancements people ask for is impossible.
OpenLab has a few hundred members, working sporadically on Connect bugs and new features. To date, we’ve had a couple features built for Connect, one, a tag cloud for IdeaFactory, that’s made it into the “production” version. The other features will soon be rolled into production too; they are: a Yahoo! widget for Connect, a bookmarking feature and a relation browser for navigating the organization in a new visual way (we’re bored with org charts).
We’ve also had non-technical volunteers. A generous person on one of the documentation teams used free time to write some help documentation for us because UI is never as obvious as you think it is.
Thanks to these people for helping us with the Connect experiment. I hope to publicize more about these efforts as we move forward with Connect and other AppsLab experiments.