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George Roberts :: Blog :: Elgg and the Emerge Platform

December 20, 2007

Some of you may have caught wind of the changes at Eduspaces, the public Elgg community (e.g. on Stephen Downes' web here,  which cites Graham Attwell here) that was hosted by Curverider. As you know the Emerge platform is based on Elgg and Curverider is the company that leads the Elgg development. Elgg is the only (afaik) open source social networking platform that can be downloaded and run on your own servers (other than IBM/Lotus Connections). The other major social networking platforms (Ning, mySpace, Facebook, Orkut)  are hosted and not open source. Some hosted educational social networks run on modified open source Wordpress platforms (edublogs, FreeFolio) or Ning platforms (myLearningSpace). Movable Type is going open source. There are developments in the Emerge community that may provide an alternative. See Mark van Harmelen's post here.  But, if you want to roll your own, Elgg is it, for the moment.

So, can we rely on Elgg and what is the risk-management plan?

The answer to the first question has to be a qualified, "Yes". Our platform support is provided by Joe Rosa who monitors the development forums. He gives me confidence in the stability of the platform. Most of the upset to the community has been in the perception sphere and not the technical sphere. The Elgg development roadmap is aiming for a v. 1.0 launch in April 2009. We are running on the v0.8 platform and plan to switch to 0.9 over the Christmas break with a lot of new functionality ready for the Programme launch on 24 - 25 January.

The Elgg developer community is starting to act as an independent open source development community. As Dave Tosh (Elgg's creator) himself has said, "... v0.9 rc1 is a milestone in terms of Elgg development as it was the first release that was designed and built by the community" (here, may need to log in).

But there is not yet a solid open source governance model for Elgg in the wild. Curverider clearly has other plans. Eduspaces transition was cack-handled. There are wobbles in the Elgg-o-sphere.

The Emerge project will continue to provide a platform for all the projects and participants in the community. We will continue to develop this platform using the best of breed tools available. As the support project for the U&I programme we believe we need to be using pioneering services and will continue to do so.

We plan to stick by our Elgg (v0.9) until at least May 2008. And, if this is all a storm in a teacup look forward to a new and exciting Open Social compliant (at least aspiring towards compliance) Elgg 1.0.

Meanwhile we are actively studying our options. We don't anticipate moving but, if we have to, there will be a managed transition that requires a minimum effort from the community.

Cheers for the season to you all

Overview for Keywords: direction, Elgg, platform

Blogs with Keywords: direction, Elgg, platform

Posted by George Roberts


  1. Thanks for that.

    Looking forward to the new fuctionalities of teh EMERGE platform! ;-)

    I am also excited about Open learning. Can't wait.

    Happy holidays!



    Cristina CostaCristina Costa on Friday, 21 December 2007, 10:13 GMT # |

  2. Great to see that plans are being made George. Re: social networking platforms... at the risk of starting some debate (bwahahaha) a social networking 'platform' is simply a branded content management system. If we've got tagging, blogging, file sharing and the ability to do some kind of group or community, we've got a social networking platform. If there is ever thought of a platform change any decently configured content management system (plone, joomla, drupal etc...) will give you the kind of social networking you want plus be a little more configurable to your changing needs.

    Educationbridges has been running two fairly big elggs now for 2 years. (youthvoices.net and personallearningspace.com) We've learned alot from them and the teachers/students have done some very good work in them but we are thinking that it might be time to move on. The truth is... content 'management' side of elgg has always been a promised 'future' feature. And, in a sense, it is not really designed for 'management.' It is designed more to be a wild west type of place where 'natural' communities can develop. While i feel this idea is compelling, I do like the idea of being able to have a bit more control over my 'habitat' for my community. I'd like to be able to have more granular control over the navigation for instance... which is not about controlling community, but about configuring it to the needs of the kind of community you're in or trying to attract.

    User management... don't even talk to me about it.

    I've been working on several social networking projects with drupal (I find that community to be particularly transparent and active... the two things i look for in an OSS community) and that's the biggest thing about the 'elgg situation' that concerns me... 'why' is this stuff happening. I have never gotten the feeling that I could contribute to the elgg community... I have been told to 'send code' but my skills don't lie in that direction... My skills are more of an 'organizational/coordinating' stuff... which is why the development projects I've been working on have been funnelling into drupal instead. I posted a small RFP yesterday and got 7 different responses from people who were willing to build my needed functionality in 1-2 weeks. It's that ability to get options that really sells it for me. 

    If you do consider makin' a switch, give me a holler... i love this debate :P 

    dave cormierdave cormier on Friday, 21 December 2007, 11:27 GMT # |

  3. Cheers, Dave

    Someone in the Elgg/Eduspaces community discussion has also suggested Drupal. I remember you and I discussed it a while back and your lovely aquatic diseases Wink site is built on Drupal. Joe Rosa has been experimenting with a Joomla. Meanwhile the Elgg community does seem to be busting open, pushed by a lot of users wanting more transparency.

    George RobertsGeorge Roberts on Friday, 21 December 2007, 14:21 GMT # |

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