I am glad to see that PTFS and its LibLime division have contributed the developments that PTFS has been working on for the past year or so, including features commissioned by the East Brunswick and Middletown Township public libraries and others. The text of LibLime’s announcement makes it clear that this is meant as a submission to Koha 3.2 and (more so) 3.4:
The code for the individual new features included in this version has also been made available for download from the GIT repository. The features in this release were not ready for 3.2, but, pending acceptance by the 3.4 Koha Release Manager, could be included in release 3.4.
Chris Cormack (as 3.4 release manager) and I (as 3.2 release manager) have started work on integrating this work in the Koha. Since 3.2 is in feature freeze, for the most part only the bugfixes from Harley will be included in 3.2, although I am strongly considering bringing in the granular circulation permissions work as well. The majority of the features will make their way into 3.4, although they will go through QA and discussion like any other submission.
So far, so good. As a set of contributions for 3.2 and 3.4, “Harley” represents the continuation of PTFS’ ongoing submissions of code to Koha in the past year. Further, I hope that if PTFS is serious about their push for “agile” programming, that they will make a habit of submitting works in progress for discussion and public QA sooner, as in some cases “Harley” features that were obviously completed months ago were not submitted until now.
But here is where the mixed messages come in: “Harley” is prominently listed on koha.org as a release of Koha. Since no PTFS staff are among the elected release managers or maintainers for Koha, that is overreaching. Ever since Koha expanded beyond New Zealand, no vendor has hitherto unilaterally implied that they were doing mainstream releases of Koha outside of the framework of elected release managers.
Before I go further, let me get a couple things out of the way. If somebody wants to enhance Koha and create installation packages of their work in addition to contributing their changes to the Koha project, that’s fine. In fact, if somebody wants to do that without formally submitting their changes, that’s certainly within the bounds of the GPL, although obviously I’d prefer that we have one Koha instead of a bunch of forks of it. If any library wants to download, install, test, and use “Harley”, that’s fine as well. Although there could be some trickiness upgrading from “Harley” to Koha 3.2 or Koha 3.4, it will certainly be possible to do so in the future.
What I am objecting to is the overreach. Yes, “Harley” is important. Yes, I hope it will help open a path to resolve other issues between PTFS/LibLime and the rest of the Koha community. Yes, I thank PTFS for releasing the code, and in particular publishing it in their Git repository. That doesn’t make it an official release of Koha; it is still just another contribution to the Koha project, the same as if it came from BibLibre, software.coop, Catalyst, Equinox, one of the many individual librarians contributing to Koha, or any other source.
“Harley” is available for download from LibLime’s website at http://www.liblime.com/downloads. This is where it belongs. Any vendor-specific distribution of Koha should be retrievable from the vendor’s own website, but it should not be presented as a formal release. Perhaps there is room to consider having the Koha download service also offer vendor-specific distributions in addition to the main releases, but if that is desired, it should be proposed and discussed on the community mailing lists.
Updating koha.org to remove the implication that “Harley” is an official release is a simple change to make, and I call upon PTFS to do so.
Please see my disclosure statement. In particular, I am release manager for Koha 3.2 and I work for a competitor of PTFS. This post should not be construed as an official statement by Equinox, however, although I stand by my words.