AGM 2011 Tech Report
The Freegle Tech working group is the place to discuss technical issues about the website or other tools that we develop for Freegle. It’s open to all Freegle Volunteers - the people who develop this stuff, but just as importantly, the people who use it and want it to work well for their groups.
We’ve done a huge amount over the last couple of years:
- We’ve got the website and server up and running, and maintained it since.
- We maintain Freegle email addresses and distribution lists using Google Apps.
- We’ve provided some tools to improve group homepages.
- We’ve implemented a bulk mailing system to help groups stay in touch with Freegle.
- We’ve got our own shortlinks, which are used in a lot of different places.
- We've set up the wiki and poll software on our server
- We’ve got an improved Message Maker, which helps members post correctly.
- We've reported website use regularly from Google Analytics reports.
- We’ve added the republisher function, so that our groups can expand onto new platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This also provides function to reinvigorate members on Yahoo, and help groups become more active.
- We’ve dabbled with mobile phones - an area where we need to do more.
- We’ve started to look at whether people could use our groups directly from ilovefreegle.org.
What could we do better? Well, we are still pretty short on people who have the skills and time to actually develop this stuff - which means that some things don’t get done because we don’t have anyone to do them. Most of these initiatives are also one-person projects - so we’re exposed if those individuals are unable to find the time to continue them. We’re also pretty poor at writing regular reports to Central or keeping an up to date task list. The server is fairly heavily used and so could use increased capacity; a standby server would provide increased resilience as more crucial Freegle functionality is on our server. Ideally a separate development server would let us try out code without breaking the live system.
But overall, the great thing about this group is that we can decide collectively how we want Freegle’s technical stuff to work. And we always try to proceed by offering people better ways to do things, not imposing solutions on local groups. So come and join in and make our tech stuff even better! Suggestions for technical improvements always welcome.
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