I have an exciting, albeit brief, announcement to make about our progress on the Populous project (formerly known as the Community News Network). Today we publicly released all of our code, in alpha, on the social coding site GitHub. The entirely of our progress so far is there, which at this point is an extremely powerful and flexible content management system. We’ve released it under an open source BSD license, and highly encourage anyone interested to check it out and contribute.

We’re coding Populous in Django, a Python rapid development framework specifically designed to quickly build robust news sites. So if there are any coders out there that know Django and are interested in participating in the development of, what we think, will be the newspaper site of the future please let me know. We have also hired Lincoln Loop, an excellent Django programming boutique, as a professional development partner to help us speed up the process and stick to our timeline.

Everyone in the small, but growing, community that is following our project has been looking forward to the release of our CMS, but I want to emphasize that this only the first stage in three. Following our development timeline (we’re right on schedule with the current release) in the Winter we will release our workflow management portion and in the Spring we will release the social network aspect. The CMS, though it’s very good on its own, will serve as the foundation of the other elements we’re working on.

We’re also placing the finishing touches on a demo of what our CMS can do, and we should be making an announcement about its completion in the near future. The launch of the demo will be exciting for two reasons: people who do not know how to program will be able to see the potential in Populous, and it will be important for people to understand how the CMS looks and feels.

When we launch the demo we hope we will be able to solicit a great deal of feedback from the community and incorporate that feedback into our final release. For those of you unfamiliar with our process, we plan to roll out each of our components in beta, solicit feedback and continue development on all of them, and release a final version over the Summer. I’m extremely happy to announce that we’re about a third of the way there.