OpenPaaS’ Newsletter — June 2018

One quarter after OpenPaaS’ launch : reaching cruising speed

The French aerobatic team at work: more than the sum of its parts. Photo by Joe deSousa on Unsplash

Introduction

A quarter has passed since OpenPaaS’ official launch at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It was back in February this year, and at this occasion, we released an article to reveal some of the inner workings of our awesome Open Source collaborative platform.

What happened since the launch? In this late June’s newsletter, lights will be shed on our latest teams’ achievements. Rather than a lengthy article, we will cover updates — with a focus on the Contact application — and discuss the state of the project in general.

General overview

How is OpenPaaS thriving since its debut? In one word: well! At the time of writing, our collaborative platform is being tested in half a dozen places and counting, in France and around the world. Future deployments are intended for as low as one hundred individuals to the tens of thousands. Now that OpenPaaS has been released, valuable external feedbacks are pouring in, allowing us to spot and fix bugs, and overall to make sure the platform is genuinely matching customer’s expectations.

How are we serving our customers? For the most part, OpenPaaS is offered as a Service, so end-users can have a better grasp of the platform, without having to deploy it themselves. Who are we working with?

Among others, we are proud to work with the Togolese Ministry of Posts and Digital Economy, which after having tested out and validating the platform, will soon rolling out OpenPaaS on top of their own infrastructure. Another customer, with stringent security requirements, asked us to deploy our platform on premises in an air-gapped environment, a mission we were keen to lead, and which illustrates the plasticity of our solution. What can we learn from those two examples? The fact that OpenPaaS is Open Source give system administrators a lot of flexibility when it comes to means and ways to deploy it, regardless of the context.

System administration

Speaking of system administration, it is now possible to deploy OpenPaaS from scratch — alongside the file sharing solution LinShare — in less than 30 minutes! As stated in the past, we target Kubernetes clusters, and will continue to tweak our platform to better take advantage of this environment. Follow the link bellow if you want to learn more about how OpenPaaS met Kubernetes.

Development

As a team, we would like to release new OpenPaaS versions more frequently, in a steady and regular pace. As a result, we have decided to transition to time-based development cycles, which will allow us to deliver more contents to our customers more frequently. Each year, three major version will be released. The next major release is planned for… July!

Microsoft has recently acquired GitHub, home of many Open Source projects from the Linux kernel to Kubernetes. This acquisition has triggered a movement to look for alternatives and to find a more neutral ground for Open Source software projects. Among those potential new places, GitLab is scoring high. What are we using internally? Will we need to migrate too?

No, in-house, we are already relying on a self-hosted GitLab instance, which we use as our central git repository, and which is mirrored to a GitHub repository. Recently, our GitLab instance has been updated, and we can now benefit from all of its majors fixes and new features!

Contact under the spotlight

OpenPaaS is built around three main applications: Inbox, for emails; Calendar, for events; and Contacts, for…well, you guessed it: Contacts! Recently, the former application got some noticeable improvements, which are worth mentioning:

  • Default domain visibility. As a user of OpenPaaS, you are part of a domain, which typically matches the name of your organization (such as tux@freesoftware.org). By default, as a member of this domain, you will be able to see each and every other members of this domain. No need to ask for your colleague’s email address anymore.
  • Import contacts. OpenPaaS is all about standards. Information should be able to flow in-and-out of the platform without friction. So far, it was possible to import your contact from a preexisting Google account. On top of that, it is now possible to import contacts from a vCard, as illustrated in the screenshot below.
In order to import contacts from a vCard file, go to the Contact App. From there, select the plus sign at the top left corner, which will reveal a list. The last item Import contacts from file, should then be selected, and will trigger the opening of a window. At this point, it should be straightforward. Note that you can choose to which address book your imported contacts will be merged to.
  • Export contacts. The export feature allows you to export an entire address book at once, for use in any other compatible applications.
In order to use the export feature, go to the Contact App. When you are there, select the three vertical dots (also known as “more options”) next to the desired address book, and then click on the Export feature. A window will pop up. From there, select the Export button.
  • Multiple address books. Up until recently, a user could only possess one address book. It is now possible to have multiple address books, including shared address books. If you are working in a team, you may want to rely on the same resource and source of truth. Rather than to manage an address book per each individual, you could decide to share a global address book, to foster the sharing of information.
  • Address book delegation. Last but not least, you can now delegate the management of your address book to a particular user, from viewing-only rights to full-blown management rights. In the former case, the user with those rights will be able to manage the address book as if it was his or hers.
In order to use the Delegation feature, go to the Contact App. When you are there, select the three vertical dots (also known as “more options”) next to the desired address book, and then click on the Settings item in the list. From there, go to Delegation, search for a user to delegate your address book to, pick your level of permission and select Add.

Conclusion

We could have covered mobile and desktop synchronization, which have made a huge leap forward recently; ongoing works on platform-wide notifications; a recent departure and an upcoming one (Farewell Maxime and Sang! Thanks for your awesome work and good luck for the future!) and a handful of new arrivals… But rather than to spoil it, let’s build up the suspense a bit and keep some announcements for later, like the next upcoming release for instance!

In the meantime, we will try to align as well as the French aerobatic team, and to continue to work collaboratively to release a great milestone!

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