We'd like to announce the public launch of our Community Scripts Initiative. Trying to explain the CSI is difficult in one post, but the idea is to start a revolution in technical community interaction. Interaction within (between technical people), and without (with users of tools). This is a large task but we have some good people behind it and really good ideas for it.
The feature of the CSI we are launching today is the Community Repositories (click here to access). CR's are like source repositories you can make from your control panel, and are publicly viewable (though only you can check in material, others can create branches- this is a type of Distributed Version Control System and is very popular in open source communities). This is all working and in the coming weeks, remaining bugs will be ironed out and new features added. (Tutorial on setting up a Repository, with video)
So what does this do for you? Well, it creates a very easy way to set up a version control system for your personal scripts. It also publishes them if you want, so others can see and use. This kills two birds with one stone, really, and I've been using it for my own stuff for a month or so already. What I hope is that people will start to use it for their own and collaborative projects, and share their work, and knowledge, with the community even more.
Already on the CR, we have a series of very common and useful functions: the Function Libraries (read about them here), which are groups of functions in the public domain (so your studio won't care about license) that are maintained by the TAO admins, so you can count on swift updates and reliable code. Any fixes requested will be done with the most speed possible. Growing these common core libraries will be a major goal of the CSI, because having a common library across all connected technical artists provides a huge boost to productivity. There is also an auto-documentation system in place. So have no fear! Take the plunge and start using the libraries, and please help create new ones! And remember, all official TAO scripts should conform to our Code Conventions and Standards.
Well this is great but may or may not be something to write home about. The CSI is more than just the CR, though, though the CR's form a core. What we hope to roll out in coming months are much more important features and integration. For example:
Imagine you are browsing ScriptSpot, and come across a script you want to use. You download it and check it out, and make some changes. You can make a repository for your new 'branch' of this script. And imagine if ScriptSpot could then list your branch on the main script's page so people can get to your page from the 'trunk' script. And whenever you update your script- people would be able to comment and request fixes from your ScriptSpot page- the most recent version would automatically be published. And you could allow others to publish to your own branch if you want, if your friend wants to help or make changes or well.
Well it doesn't stop there, even. We have lots more up our sleeve (and are actively working with Chris from SS to make this a reality), and now that the CSI is launched, we'll be asking for more help and feedback. If you are interested in helping right away, you can PM me. Or anyone can help just by participating. These things all work great on paper, but if no one uses them they will whither and die.
The sky is the limit here. For a technical and cutting edge industry, we've been awfully slow in embracing 'Web 2.0'. Here is the chance to make a real change, and you can be part of it.
Other links of interest:
And videos make everything better, so here's a video of how to connect to the Repositories with Mercurial installed: