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Where the #&%$ is Colony?

Ok, the prank has gone for too long... the fact is that... Colony doesn't exist, it was all a big hoax. Ahah got ya! It does exist, but with years passed and no release in sight, people have started to wonder, and rightly so, what the frack happened to Colony. Questions typically involve one or more of the following frustrations:

  • What the hell is Colony?
  • Why do I keep hearing about Colony and still can't really understand what it is or where to get it?
  • Why is www.getcolony.com down?

Are we there yet?

Well, I can tell you that during this long timespan, few were the days where there wasn't a commit to our repository, directly or indirectly related with Colony. So, in fact, Colony is better than ever, and 99% of the work we do today, is either on: directly improving Colony (through the development of new plugins, bug fixes, and miscellaneous code improvements), creating products with Colony, or doing consulting work using Colony. In fact, we can't stop Colony from getting better with each passing day, even if we tried.

So why isn't it out yet you may ask? Well... you can say it's out, in fact, from day one, http://svn.hive.pt has been open to the public and filled with GPL goodness. The bottleneck has always been in making Colony so f-ing simple, that using it for the first time is an enjoyable straightforward experience. That means quality documentation, useful examples, easy installation and transparent updates, etc.. and we ain't there yet... but we're moving in the right direction.

Where are we going?

Documentation has improved quite a lot, both by extending their subject coverage, and by making them more actionable and straight to the point. Serious work as also been done in creating tasty multimedia content to make the experience of diving into Colony more enjoyable. This content is still in the works, but just last month, we leaked one of a series of Colony comics we have created:

However, the biggest milestone has been getting our Colony Build Automation infrastructure (which is a set of Colony plugins, as everything else) up and running. Nowadays, we have a server running a Colony instance that is constantly fetching code from our repository, making sure it passes our validations, and packaging it into various formats. As an added bonus, everytime someone screws up the build, that person is greeted with a nice unforgiving e-mail:

With this automated lifecycle in place, I can now access the Colony instance where the build automation plugins are running and building Colony (embrace the paradox :P), and through the Colony Web Server (which is also just a bunch of Colony plugins), and the HTTP File Handler Plugin, which extends the Colony Web Server and allows me to browse the build server's filesystem with my web browser, I can always access the latest build, in various formats, including fancy "deb" files. Meaning that currently, in Ubuntu for example, I can just add this web server as a source and am able to use its package manager to easily install Colony.

This infrastructure, will in the future, keep delivering you fresh Colony builds, regardless of what operating system you want to deploy Colony on.

When will we finish?

I just finished reading one of ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes' books (I just got a Kindle, and its kickass paper-like display has gotten me addicted to reading again!), where he details the gruesome pain he endured in his insane runs, like running 320km non-stop without sleeping. Heat strokes, muscle damage and severe dehydration aside, 12833 commits and 354.488 lines of code (639.286 with comments) later, getting Colony ready already seems like an ultramarathon, which fortunately seems to be getting nearer and nearer to the finish line. As Dean says, no point in thinking of how long to run, just put one foot in front of the other. This to say, I can't give you a release date, it's ready when it's ready, but it will be worth it!

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