EvQueue, free software job scheduler and queueing engine, liberated!

EvQueue is a free software task scheduler and queueing engine. It handles the planning of simple tasks but also that of workflows, chaining basic pieces of code to more complex endeavours.

We’ve been working on it in my NGO* for around three years, and been thinking about liberating it for half of that time. Now it’s finally available for everybody to enjoy, although it remains more of a web/server/admin/dev thing. We’ve been using it in a production environment since the beginning; to date, more than four millions workflows have been executed.

It has proven very useful for our websites and web applications to allow for background tasks. When a user wants for example to generate personalised snail mail for thousands of people (accordingly big pdf file), or upload a bunch of photos that need to go through some treatments, the operation can get lengthy. Far too lengthy (10s of seconds, minutes) for a page reload! Launch an evQueue workflow that deals with the export or upload, and it’ll run in the background. The user can go on with his or her navigation, and the website can silently check on evQueue to know when the workflow is finished, then inform the user in whichever way.

Documentation on how to install and use evQueue, as well as workflow examples, are available on the evQueue website.

* Que Choisir is a French consumer-protection organisation, we at the IT department work on its websites and many internal web applications.

MutterWare #2

Yesterday it happened!

So Hugo was pretty busy lately working for his exams, but he still wanted to have a second edition of the MutterWare, an event he forked, modified and organised, which took place back in March.

The MutterWare, forked from the TupperVim concept, welcomes anyone interested in the email client mutt to discover it, for newbies like me who never even installed it yet, for beginners and intermediate to get the skills from the (not necessarily) elders, and for the already experts to exchange tips and scripts.

Hugo gave me a few contacts, I hanged out on #frenchmoz , exchanged a few emails, and soon I had Paul from Mozilla booking a room for us at Mozilla’s new headquarters in the centre of Paris. But he didn’t tell me we were going to get their huge meeting hall! (see upper and below pictures)

The first MutterWare had gathered five people, we have doubled that number. My several announcements on French-speaking mailing lists and news sites (especially on LinuxFr.org) must have raised interest and so the ten of us met at Mozilla’s at 8p.m.

An agenda had been thought of, but we sure did not play by it; things immediately made themselves relaxed and informal. Different persons presented their way to use mutt and parts of their config, raising many “how do you do that”s and “what’s that at the bottom”s. After these talks, people grabbed fruits and crackers as discussions went on in small groups. The atmosphere was good and the event lasted for three hours before anyone resigned herself to go home.

Many people showed much interest in the event and thanked us for putting it together, which is a sweet reward. And furthermore, this gives us a full tank of motivation for spawning the next MuttWare, maybe as soon as January!

Should you have some, I’ll be happy to answer any questions regarding the organisation or course of the event!

Web Sprint in Manchester, April 21-22

Dear web people, dear all,

Andreas, Sam and I have been thinking about the opportunity to meet up and achieve some work on FSFE’s web site. The idea of a Web Sprint to gather forces and fix dozens of bugs sounded like the best option. This is why we are proud to announce that the next Web Sprint will take place in Manchester, April 21st and 22nd.

After the success of October 2010’s Web Sprint which saw the advent of fsfe.org’s new design, we hope to fix lots of bugs, offer new functionalities and more important, have a great deal of fun with nice people!

How you can help and join:

  • meet us there: the more the merrier! We welcome all participants who want to give a try at improving FSFE’s website(s)!
  • join us online: even if you can’t be in Manchester, fixing bugs remotely is of course possible and wanted!
  • give us feedback and ideas: not that much of a web designer or programmer? Browse fsfe.org, and while reading about things that matter, tell us what you think. We welcome all comments and ideas, there’s always room for improvement. You are, we are the users!

If you wish to join us physically and you don’t have a place to stay yet, Sam knows a hotel where you can stay for approx. 35€ a night. Let us know! We will further announce the precise location and a more detailed planning soon.

We’re all looking forward to it!

The Web Team

Plugin for WordPress: Creative Commons License Manager

Just a quick information.

The nice plugin to put your work under any Creative Commons license is available on FSFE blogs. You can define default parameters that will be used on each piece of content, but of course also a specific author and license type for each photo, for example.

Thanks to Torsten for the above picture. 🙂

Edit: as Hugo mentions, the result is awful when aggregated on planet… I’ve uncategorised my blog post so that it’s not aggregated anymore, but this is of course a show stopper. 🙁

Roboter Workshop

Am 22 Mai hatte die FSFE eine Vielfalt von Leuten in ihrem Berliner Büro eingeladen, um zusammen Roboter zu programmieren.

Die Idee stemmt von der tarent, die sie durch das Freedroidz-Projekt ins Leben gebracht hat. Es geht darum, es so einfach wie möglich zu machen, dass man auf dem Computer ein paar Zeilen Code schreibt, und damit schon einen Lego-Roboter steuert. Und einfach ist es! Nimmt einen Laptop. Nimmt einen von Freedroidz vorbereiteten USB-Stick, und lasst die Magie geschehen! Man kommt auf eine Eclipse-Plattform, wo die nötige Start-Beispiele schon eingestellt sind, und damit braucht man nur einige Minuten, bevor der Roboter von alleine zum nächsten Raum geht. Ob er Hindernisse vermeidet oder eine Linie auf dem Boden folgt, es macht schnell Spaß, und spielend lernt man programmieren!

Und das ist genau das Ziel. Der Workshop soll weitergeführt werden, am besten für Lehrer, die nachher in der Schule so eine Aktivität für Kinder organisieren wollen.

Nach dem ich mit Matthias und anderen in Bonn zum ersten Workshop eingeladen worden sind, wollten wir also auch einen in Berlin halten, damit sich die Berlin-Roboter-Community langsam formt, und wir für die wachsende Nachfrage Workshops leisten können. Vielen Dank an den sieben Mitmacher! Ich hoffe, wir machen so weiter und sehen wir demnächst wieder!

Für Nachfrage und bei Interesse meldet Ihr Euch bitte bei dem Freedroidz-Team, das bisher alles gut organisiert.

Célébration du Document Freedom Day à Berlin

Aujourd’hui, plusieurs fellows de la FSFE, Matthias Kirschner, Stephan Uhlmann (FFII) et moi-même avons revêtu nos plus beaux habits de cérémonie, et sommes allés à la rencontre de ARD, un des plus grands groupes de diffusion de médias allemands (télévision, radio, site internet).

Nous avons organisé ce rendez-vous, en partenariat avec la FFII, pour les féliciter des moyens de diffusion mis en oeuvre sur leur site, où les utilisateurs peuvent visionner les vidéos au format libre « Ogg Theora ». Ceci permet à tous l’accès aux contenus vidéo de l’entreprise publique, sans imposer un format ou un logiciel en particulier. Sur d’autres sites proposant des vidéos, ceux-ci se révèlent en effet souvent être propriétaires et n’offrent donc pas la liberté de choix aux internautes.

Nous avons donc remis le « prix pour l’utilisation et la promotion des standards ouverts » aux responsables du site, qui d’après leur propos se sont battus en interne contre vents, marées et budgets pour finalement proposer des formats libres. Par les temps qui courent, ou la plupart des sites de contenus se tournent vers l’alternative la plus connue par simplicité, la volonté de promouvoir des formats libres relève d’un certain courage que nos deux associations se devaient de couronner.

Après une part de tarte “rOgg On!” et un petit café, la discussion fut lancée et a été très instructive, dévoilant au fur et à mesure les coulisses techniques de l’architecture informatique de cet immense centre multimédia. Les différents formats dans lesquels les vidéos sont sauvegardés, combien de temps elles le sont et pourquoi, et nombreuses autres anecdotes nous ont tenus en haleine pendant une petite heure et demi.

Les photos de l’événement sont disponibles sur le wiki de la FSFE, enjoy! Que cela vous donne envie de participer l’année prochaine. 😉

Et bien sûr, plus d’info sur le DFD là : http://documentfreedom.org

Help to translate your favorite PDF reader!

As I mentioned on the translators mailing list some time ago, everyone with a bit of time can help translate his or her favorite PDF reader application. This can be translating the actual software, as well as the download pages online, which both help to reach a wider range of users.

Simply take a look at our list of PDF readers and how to help them with translation, and take action:

  • start helping the translation effort on your favorite PDF reader;
  • contact the developers teams that have not answered yet/not been contacted yet, and offer them contribution;
  • modify the page to inform about your work! (alternatively, write to translators<at>fsfeurope<dot>org).

Thank you all for your attention, I’m eager to know if we can make something out of this!

W3C new Berlin office

Just a week ago, Matthias and I went to the “Grand Opening of the W3C German-Austrian Office at DFKI“, the new office of theirs based in Berlin. Many people with different backgrounds were there, there was a series of inspiring keynotes as well as live demos of the brand new applications based on W3C standards.


The introduction keynote explained how and why W3C standards are to be used in the enterprise world, which was kind of a good introduction in the topic. Dr. Orestis Terzidis of SAP went on presenting the standard they are developing for a Universal Service Description Language (USDL) for use especially in business (slides).

An incredibly inspiring and highly interesting speech was this of Prof. Philipp Slusallek, who presented XML3D, a new generation description language for 3D environments. But the live demo was even more incredible (read hereunder).

W3C CEO Jeffrey Jaffe then gave a nice overview of what an Open Web Platform should look like. He was also followed by a talk on the Ubiquitous Web and another one about Social Media Analysis by the company Attensity.

Live demonstrations

After the talks, I spent some time discussing with two DFKI projects that were presented live. The first one was based on a “second life” game, and implemented discussions with a non-player character, who could answer your questions about anything (celebrities, movies…), or guide you through the process of choosing and buying a piece of furniture in an in-game shop showing 3D models of real products. All their knowledge is “static” ad extracted from the internet (Wikipedia, imdb.com, a furniture shop…). Projects: KomParse and TAKE.

The second project was based on XML3D, and shows very good results! In a standard browser (modified Chromium or Firefox 4), there is a space showing interactive 3D graphics, all described within an XML file! It includes possibly any 3D graphics you describe, with e.g. export function from Blender. The demo showed a 3D strategy game in the browser, a 3D chess game or even physics-aware scenes with e.g. falling cubes!

Definitely looking forward for news from the W3C German-Austrian office, great job!

Fellowship elections

FSFE is about to vote for the new fellows who will be full members of its General Assembly, which is the main body of the association and thereby takes important decisions in FSFE’s life.

Every registered fellow is allowed to vote, and every fellow registered since at least February the 1st, 2010, is allowed to run for the elections.

How to become a candidate?

First, you have to send en email to fellowship<at>fsfeurope<dot>org with subject “Candidate Fellowship seat.”, in which you tell to be willing to run for the elections, and explain your involvement in Free Software, more about yourself, etc. This has to be done before the 25th of January, so at your keyboards, ready, go! If you can not or do not want to be a candidate, maybe you can emulate other fellows you know and who would want to grab a fellowship seat at the General Assembly?

You can use your fellow blog and/or the wiki to run your campaign.

The elections pages

You may want to take a look at the past elections, 2009 and 2010. The new elections are summed up on the 2011 page. A list of the current GA members is to be found here.

Don’t forget, you only have until the 25th of January!!

Happy running and voting!