Jaspersoft Unveils Updated Forge With a Social Twist

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 23, 2008

Open source business intelligence company Jaspersoft announced at OSCON today that it has ramped up its community project development platform. JasperForge 2.0 boasts several new features including more personalized tools and customizable home pages, while also giving a nod to the social networking tools an increasing number of developers find useful. I caught up to Nick Halsey, VP of Marketing, to find out more about the new features, why he thinks the JasperForge community has grown so fast, and what sets this platform apart from other Forges available to the open source community.

OStatic: In just over a year, the number of registered developers at JasperForge jumped from 30,000 to 85,000. What do you think accounts for the surge, and do you have any projected numbers for how many new registered users the new platform may draw?

Halsey: I believe the growth over the past year is a result of two key drivers -- that open source software in general has moved into the mainstream, combined with the fact that business intelligence continues to be the #1 priority for CIO's and businesses as they try to run their operations more efficiently. The amount of data collected in the world continues to expand at a phenomenal rate, and there is simply no way the economics of "old school" proprietary BI tools can scale with the demand. As far as projections for the future, it's really hard to estimate; however I do think the new Forge will cause many more of our community members to register, as the benefits of doing so (custom MyPages, better communications, personalized tooling) will provide that extra incentive. We are certainly planning for the new JasperForge platform to be able to support several hundred thousand members.

OStatic: What kind of outreach campaign are you planning to bring in new registered users?

Halsey: Not to use a hackneyed term, but our growth is pretty viral even now, without a whole lot of programs trying to drive membership. However one very important driver for new membership is our partnerships with other leading open source communities and companies. For example, we recently ported our iReport IDE to NetBeans, and we are now the number one download on the NetBeans Plug-in site. Our products are OEMed and embedded by other large open source companies such as MySQL and Red Hat, and their communities are now being exposed to Jaspersoft as well. Many of those community members visit the JasperForge, and wind up registering in our community as well. So these relationships provide a "virtuous circle" for membership.

OStatic: How did you choose which new features to offer? Was it in response to community requests?

Halsey: Absolutely. We get a tremendous amount of feedback from our community about what functionality they'd like to see on JasperForge, and we've tried to incorporate that as much as possible. But we've also tried to learn from what the leaders in social networking have done, and bring that level of spontaneous community design and organization to the new Forge. It's clear that the needs of an open source community have moved beyond just software development tools; now people are looking for ways to organize around business requirements, solution focus areas, geographically, etc. It's our job to make sure the JasperForge evolves to support these emerging models of interaction.

OStatic: Of the tools that were available until now, what are typically the most used?

Halsey: Well, the forums are absolutely the most used tool on the old Forge, and that will probably continue in this most recent incarnation. Also the bug trackers and project information/update pages.

OStatic: What sets JasperForge v2 apart from other Forges in the same space?

Halsey: There are so many new capabilities in the new Forge -- it really is a quantum leap forward. For one thing, it enables a truly personalized experience. By registering and setting up a personal MyPage, community members can completely customize how they interact with the Forge, which projects they belong to, what information they receive, etc. Another capability I find extraordinary is the new "ecosystem enablement" feature, which allows you to integrate information not only from within JasperForge, but from other 3rd party web sites and information sources. This is critical, because Jaspersoft is used in conjunction with so many other products, so the ability to search multiple forums for a single location is a huge step forward.

OStatic: Where is JasperForge headed in the future?

Halsey: [A] couple of months ago, when we introduced version 2.1 of our Jaspersoft Community Edition products, we also established something we called the CVI, the Community Vibrancy Index. This is a new methadology that goes far beyond downloads in measuring an open source community's health, by measuring such things as number of members, number of projects, activity across the forums, sessions, etc.

We are going to be incorporating the CVI into the new JasperForge, as well as releasing the methadology itself under a Creative Commons license, to try to help advance the state of the art for software maturity models and how they can be used in assessing the relative health and strength of an open source project. As open source becomes more mainstream, we think tools like the CVI could go a long way in helping people understand and assess what's available out there.

We actually have a product roadmap that extends over the next two years. There are so many features we wanted to get into this first release, but we had to draw the line somewhere. Stay tuned!