Enter the Spork
Over the last eight months I have been actively working on a new project for Equinox and under contract from OHIONET called FulfILLment, the goal of which is to create a hybrid physical/virtual union catalog and ILL system for seamlessly sharing resources between libraries, regardless of the ILS each library happens to use.
The thinking behind FulfILLment is simple — take the power and scalability of the Evergreen circulation environment, where we have nearly full a priori knowledge of global system state and strong algorithms to help get items to patrons, and project that up to an ILL environment which, heretofore, has typically had little global state information.
Evergreen and FulfILLment have been, at the code level, the same project thus far. Many of the recent improvements to Evergreen that I’ve been involved with can be credited, partially if not completely, to work on FulfILLment, including in-db ingest and import rulesets, search speed enhancement, true facets and new features in BibTemplate. This symbiotic relationship will, of course, continue because much of what both systems do is very similar on a high level.
Even accepting that Evergreen and FulfILLment will facilitate similar ends at the institutions that use them — specifically, getting items into the hands of users — and will share a great deal of internal code and structure, we’ve now reached a point where the details of many of the common goals of the two have been tackled. And so, on August 2, 2010, Evergreen grew a spork.
FulfILLment now has its own identity and will now rise or fall in its own Subversion repository, on its own server, with its own mailing lists and (though I hope there will be a lot of crossover) its own community.
It’s not a f-f-f … f-f-f … you know, that f-word, because FulfILLment will not compete with Evergreen. They will serve different purposes and constituencies, and there will always be things one can do that the other cannot. And, they will feed (on) each other, both in terms of specific code and conceptual design, moving forward. FulfILLment is, in the best possible sense of the term, a derivative project based on Evergreen.
So that’s the code part, but Open Source is about the community, right? This is an open call to all: jump right in! Grab the code (not much different than trunk Evergreen today, but that will be changing fast), join the mailing lists (not much traffic, but if you join then that can change!), hop in the IRC channel (#fulfillment on FreeNode). Dip your toe in, ask questions. This should be a fun ride — it was the first time around with Evergreen — and the more the merrier.