On February 1st, the decision was made with Rob and Paul, after solemn discussions, to abandon pursuing our startup company. The next day I had a talk with Daniel Bachhuber (@danielbachhuber) of CoPress about whether or not there would be interest in our code becoming publicly available. After talks with Daniel and then a conference call with a number of other folks who have made Django systems for their news organizations, we agreed that it would be worth pursuing as an open source project.
Originally we were just going to put our code out there under the BSD license and let people use it for their own purposes. However, we had not yet finished even our core feature set, so I planned to release the code after I relaunched the YDN on the platform. The wait would be justified because I would have finished the core feature set while building out the YDN, and thus it would be ready for consumption afterwards.
Then last week I postponed the YDN transition, so people began asking if that meant the code release would be postponed too. As I told some people, my current plan is to have the project site and code ready by BCNI Philly on April 25. The reason I don’t just dump the code now is that there are still some outstanding features (which is why YDN was delayed), there is still documentation to be written, and I still have to finish the project website.
However, Courant will not really be ready for actual use or consumption upon its open-source-ing. The core set of functionality is essentially complete, which means you can build a news website which functions well for the visitors. However, we still haven’t had time to implement our vision for the admin interface, which is really the whole point of doing a specialized “news CMS.” It’s currently just a more-or-less stock Django admin, which, while functional, is far from ideal and really only marginally better than using Drupal with CCK or similar options.
As I’ve said publicly and privately in the past few days, the acronym “CMS” stands for Content Management System. That implies that the purpose of the system is actual management of content, which for a website would be through an admin interface. So I claim that the most important part of a CMS is the admin interface, and thus I can’t consider Courant ready for an actual site until we’ve taken at least our first pass at a news administrative interface.
I’m currently in the process of writing a spec for which I’d like feedback from the community, and which I’ll post sometime towards the end of this week. Such documents will eventually be part of the wiki on the Courant News project site, but I’ll find another venue until that site is ready for public consumption. I’m going to try to do one blog post a day to keep the flow of information steady, so check back for more news on Courant.