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! [ Open Conference Ware]
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| Software Stack
| Software Stack

Revision as of 22:51, 29 October 2015

Fixing the Flock Software System

We aren't talking about Flock itself, but the software / website for it. We're not talking about FUDcon sites but things that help it too are good. Focus is on Flock website.


  • Registration
  • Submission
  • Voting?
  • Schedule (rooms, times, talks)
  • Information (pre-, during, post)
  • Remotee attendance

NOTE: It would be helpful if whatever solution(s) we come up with enabled both FUDCon + Flock events


  • Registration
    • Need to require email address
    • Would be nice to collect flight/visa info instead of doing it through google doc--privacy concerns (good for fudcons in general too)
      • and track reimbursements
      • so, we need a way to customize user info that only the user + admins can see
    • reg disconnected from voting system
    • Some attendees do not want the fact that they are away from home to be publicly listed on the 'net
    • Need region of the registration (EMEA, NA, APAC, LATAM)
    • Need to confirm speaker attendance
    • Need to confirm registrant / attendee attendance
    • Registrant emails bouncing
    • Specific volunteer opportunities in registration form
    • Automation for querying funded travelers to provide links to the volunteer content (blogs, photos, etc) they agreed to do in order to get funding and get them sent to organizers, automate notification of who didn't do it to organizers
    • Is the person going to come if their talk was turned down? or are they not going to go then?
  • Submission
    • Submission acceptance is manual
    • ALL notifications are really manual! :-(
    • Did we mention there was a lot of manual stuff involved? (automate all the things)
    • Ability for submitter to tag their talk into a category
    • Allow co-speakers and communicate with all speakers of a talk
  • Voting
    • Used the Fedora voting system elections app / range voting with a restricted range
    • Had to look up talk synopsis elsewhere while voting in another window.... for 150 submissions its hard
    • It seemed like a huge number of talks had around 50 votes. When I saw that, I wondered if there was some issue in the voting system. (Or if many people were simply voting for every talk they found remotely interesting, rather than those they would actually attend.)
    • cluster related talks in the voting list so you can more easily compare them when voting
    • Note that many talks cross multiple categories. My "Remote Desktop & Fedora" is best categorized under Desktop (and thats how it was categorized), but some people would object to the categorization.
    • Elections app doesn't scale
  • Schedule
    • happy with, it's cheap (but we should doc our process so we don't get TZ issues and similar)
    • Only admins could update any talk info -- might be a permission issue (ability to edit some extra information like URL or materials or co-speakers)
    • link to video in schedule later
  • Information
    • Takes way too long to make simple change in content (locating where to do it, then waiting for admin page to load)
  • Resources
    • Luke has to jump in each year to fix it
    • Everyone having problems with WordPress on OpenShift
  • Website
    • Wordpress site backend/admin panel horrifically slow (we don't know why)
    • Wordpress backend/admin panel hard to navigate
    • Difficult to theme, so we don't update it
    • Archives of older flock info (eg videos, etc)
    • A way to pull curated photos or tweets into a semi-live feed
    • A way to tie volunteer content like photos, etc. to a badge
  • Other:
    • Need proper HTTPS certificates
    • Bid voting
    • Ability to upload slides?
    • Ability to later add a URL to video, e.g. Fedora YouTube channel
    • Transcriptions of talks -- need a place to post them

Ground Rules:

  • Yes, can put in a new application
  • Do not have to require that it runs on Fedora infrastructure (requires too much packaging resources to do so not ideal)
  • Something to run on openshift would be fantastic, we have access to that, we can scale access, can host a wide variety of frameworks/sw types
  • Turn key / commercial solutions can be considered but we really want something open source and we know open source ones exist so we'd really prefer that
    • If it's not on a framework or language where we have skills, then it needs to be more turnkey

Potential solutions:

Zookeepr - -- Ryan
  • Developed/used by LCA
  • Appears to be python
  • review / voting system
  • could talk to Donna Benjamin about it? (LCA organizer)
  • Fully FOSS (Rails engine, ruby >= 1.9.3) (can't customize it too much, higher bar)
  • Used for Open Source Bridge
  • Django app
  • Poor/nonexistent documentation (Note: SCALE team would be happy to help improve any areas you see as problematic docs wise.)
  • Supports registration, badge printing, and call for papers workflows. Is not a conference management suite.
  • Used by SCALE, DevOpsDays Silicon Valley and TXLF
Open Source Event Manager (OSEM) -- Mo
  • Ruby app (so we can't customize it too much, higher bar)
  • Used by openSUSE, GNOME, ownCloud; actively developed
  • openid support
Wordpress + Plugins -- Paul
Frab -- Jon
  • ruby implementation of PentaBarf
  • used for frosscon
  • no registration at DevConf? is that a function?
  • may not be ready for prime time + eventbrite + glue (custom code - foss) (moved down bc not foss)
Drupal COD (Conference Organizing Distribution) (moved down bc drupal is painful)
OpenConf (moved down bc academic)
  • Open core?
  • More aimed at paper-driven conferences (academic)
Open Conference Systems (moved down bc academic)
  • Fully FOSS (LAM/PHP)
  • Aimed at paper-driven conferences (academic)
PentaBarf (moved down bc people are migrating away from)
  • written in Perl so many events have dropped it
  • python implementation called frab
Bedrock - Mozilla engine, Foss,
Hackdash - Web platform that brings people and ideas together and allows anyone to know the state of each project.
  • The short install guide: git clone, cd, "npm install", ./bin/www
  • puiterwijk knowledgable about
fudcon app - In house beveloped for the Fudcon Latam event using python by @echevemaster -
  • It is python
  • MIT License
  • Latam community can help to improve the app.
  • Used for Fudcon Managua and Fudcon Córdoba

Next Steps

  • communicate via flock-planning list
  • set up ethercalc for evaluation
  • set up test systems to play with

Tool Comparisons

Feature Conference Manager
Open Source Event Manager Open Conference Ware Zookeepr regcfp
Software Stack Ruby on Rails Ruby on Rails Engine Python node.js
Email Nags

Yes; all emails can be controlled with custom templates easily accessed from admin dashboard:

  • Onboarding
    • Email sent when user registers for conference
  • Proposals
    • Email sent when proposal accepted
    • Email sent when proposal rejected
    • Email sent when proposal confirmed but speaker hasn't registered
  • Update Notifications
    • Email sent when conference dates are updated
    • Email sent when conference registration dates are updated
    • Email sent when venue updated
  • Call for Papers
    • Email sent when Call for papers dates are updated or when schedule made public
    • Email sent when Call for papers dates are updated
  • Automated emails:
    • 'Confirmation of your registration to Flock 2016'
    • 'Password reset confirmation'
    • Confirmation when proposal submitted
    • Confirmation when funding request submitted
    • (optional) Send to a specific address when any proposal is updated
  • Manual / pushbutton mails
    • Invoice payment nag (/invoice/remind)
    • Send out registration details reminder to all registrants
Yes, emails are sent via cron and templated so can be customized.
Voting on Session Submissions Yes. I think so anyway. There is a CfP 'role' you can apply to accounts. It looks like these users can vote on proposals (by clicking on 5 stars), and can also set a 'rating' (out of 5 stars) for a proposal. Yes. Assumes a committee is making selections, requires voters to be added to selection committee. Yes.
  • Assumes a committee is making selections, requires voters to be added to selection committee.
  • Has a pretty sophisticated interface for listing out proposals that need review, proposals that have been reviewed, with ratings numbers and comments fields for each proposal.
  • Seems to consider a proposal reviewed and rated by one person on the committee as "Reviewed"
  • Blind review not currently possible. See
Yes. Not sure how the perms for this work yet or how open it is. You can give proposals -2 -1 0 +1 +2 and make comments on them; you can also promote proposals to being accepted or not on the page where you review people's ratings on them.
Allows submitters to tag talks into category No. It does have a track system, but session submitters can't tag their own talks, it seems only admins can. Yes. You can do this via streams although the feature is hidden and not linked to from the admin panels! Go to /stream on the site and you can create and edit streams. Any proposals submitted will be given the opportunity to affiliate with a stream. Yes. Tagging and tracks merged.
Allows for co-speakers No. It doesn't seem to allow submitters to add a co-speaker. It has a "submitter" field and a separate "speaker" field but it doesn't seem possible for admins to edit the speaker field or add a co-speaker. Yes, but pain. There's a field in the DB you have to edit manually. No UI. See Yes.
Remotee Attendance No. However, does allow posting a video player to the session details. This could work post-event. No. No. However, does allow creating arbitrary pages to be listed on the site, could use this feature to create a page for remotees and link to session video URLs if need be. No.
Registration Yes. Also allows admins to display customizable checkbox, radio button, or yes/no questions (with customizable radio button answers) to registrants.

Also has a conference arrival / departure time field they can fill out, but no space for airline details.

Yes. Yes. Extensive registration options. A run-down of what's configured now:
  • Name / email (email verification built-in)
  • Country
  • Company
  • Voucher Code
  • Over 18 (yes/no)
  • Dietary requirements
  • Other special requirements
  • Previous years' attendance at conference
  • Fun little survey thing (favorite shell, editor, distro, vcs, etc)
  • Your superhero name / IRC nick
  • GPG key
  • RSS for blog
  • mailing list subscription requests

Do not know if these fields are customizable (guessing based on how Paul was able to add some Flock options here but can't figure out how to modify them.)

Yes. Custom fields can be defined in the config file.
Can it track registrant region? Yes. Can add a custom radio button question with the 4 regions. Tested this out and it works. Yes. But it's hard to get a good breakdown of registrants by region.
  • The one report we found that lists country is here: /admin/registered_followup
  • It tracks exact location too but it looks like you have to look up individual registrants to get this data.
Yes. Custom registration fields can be defined.
Can it track registrant visas? No? Doesn't seem like it. No.
Funding request management Yes. Has several reports/controls on admin panel for doing this:
  • Funding Requests by Max Rank (list of all the funding applications ordered max score, min score, then average)
  • Funding Requests by Strong Rank (list of all funding applications ordered by number of certain score / total number of reviewers)
  • Review index (to see what funding requests still need review)
  • Funding types (manage fund types)
  • Funding approve (change proposal status for funding applications)

However it is still pretty lacking; it's not easy to review / grant funding requests with an eye towards any sort of budget, see the following feature requests for more information:

Can it track reimbursements? No? Doesn't seem like it. Tracks funding requests and approvals/denials, but doesn't seem to let you store any data about who got reimbursed how / when / how much / etc. No, but planned. The GNOME travel board requested this feature so it will be added. People will be able to ask for reimbursement, and in the travel board page it will show the amount of budget configured, the amount of budget planned so far (will update as items get ticked/unticked), and whether the person currently has a paper accepted. So you can check per person whether hotel and/or travel is funded, and up to what percentage, and it will update the displayed page live (before you submit it.)
Mailing List Management Yes. Under "Mailing Lists" in admin panel. Gives you the following reports:
  • People who signed up for main / low traffic conference announcement ML
  • People who signed up for conference attendees mailing list
  • People who should be subscribed to miniconf organizers mailing list
  • List of partners program people for mailing list
  • List of planet-compatible blog RSS feeds
  • People who should be added to speakers ML
  • People who should be added to volunteers ML

Note that it doesn't automatically subscribe people to these lists. But it gives you text you can copy/paste into mailman to mass subscribe all of the people in each list.

Can generate a list of user email addressess.
Schedule Yes. Includes feature where you can drag-and-drop accepted sessions onto a time slot / room grid. Schedule part of software seems a bit disconnected from main app though and a bit rough in appearance. No. Does not have built-in scheduling tool, but allows you to create arbitrary pages on the site and manage through the dashboard. So you could likely easily embed a schedule into the site. No.
OpenID or Persona Login Probably? At least, you can associate an OpenID with an already-created account. Assuming this means you can probably just log in with OpenID too given a particular configuration. Yes. Yes. Has Persona support, no openid. Would require development work to add openid or FAS support (but probably doable.) See also Yes. Has Persona support.
Social Media Management Yes. Has a social media section that integrates content from conference Twitter/Google+ hashtag, conference Facebook page, Google+ URL for conference, Twitter page for conference, Instagram page for conference. Note this focuses on conference accounts, not attendee accounts. Yes. /social_network allows you to add any custom social network that conference registrants/attendees can indicate their username for. Out of the box has Flickr, Google+, and Twitter configured. Note this focuses on attendees accounts, not conference accounts. No.
Venue Information Yes. Allows you to plug in details about the venue and also create the rooms the talks will be in with fields for the each room's name and capacity. Yes, but pain.
  • You have to go to the database-editing like config file panel under /admin/change_config, then you can add info like event_host, event_fax_number, event_airport_code, event_city, event_phone_number, event_postal_address, google_map_url, google_map_latlng.
  • You can also create a custom page to talk about the venue, which seems to be the way LCA does it currently
Hotel Information Yes. Allows you to enter in freeform details about recommended hotels and other lodgings near the conference. Yes, sort of. Have to do via custom page. No form fields or anything like that it seems. No.
Sponsor management Yes. Allows you to create sponorship levels and enter in sponsors according to sponsorship level. Will result in a display of the sponsors' logos into categories on the conference front page. Yes, but pain. Involves manual input of JSON into a database-like config edit gui under /admin/config. The field is under general > sponsors. No.
Custom Static Pages No. It doesn't seem as if the interface lets you add in custom static pages. Yes. Interface is under 'Zookeepr Administration' > 'Manage Pages' in the left sidebar. Allows you to edit and add pages in the admin panel via form field. No.
Provides Volunteer Signup Forms No. Yes. (according to a 2011 dev presentation) No, but planned. Volunteer management functionality has been requested by the GUADEC organization.
Venue Bid Voting No. No. No.