As part of the Arena developer churches program we are invited each year to the Arena Developer Roundtable. Last year we heard from CCV about their fork of the code to allow them to develop features without being concerned about the business case for their development priorities etc. One of my concerns was that without a church involved in the development of the core that Arena could lose their focus, but we waited to see what would happen.
This year is different, but in a good way. Jon and David are not here in person, although they have been following the live feed. It's a bummer not having them here, they have become friends over the last nearly two years. THe biggest change with Arena is not the loss of Jon and David (they aren't gone, just not as involved as they used to be), although that is a significant loss, but rather the addition of Mike Gold. Mike came from Willow Creek, and brings a level of enthusiasm and professionalism to the whole development process that is incredible.
Today Mike lead us through an introduction to the SCRUM process of development, something that he is implementing at Arena. What is really, really, really cool is that we are part of that process tomorrow. As stakeholders, we are working with Mike Gold, Mark White, Jeff Maddox and the other Arena guys to narrow down and refine the development priorities for Arena tomorrow. This is exactly why we come to the roundtable: To have input into the future direction of Arena.
We also shared the CCCEV / HDC check-in suite, which is a full featured windows free alternative to the official check-in solution. We demoed check-in on the iPad, as well as using an iPad as a number display for parents in a service, and showed our solution for multi-site network in a box. We also showed a module that Daniel wrote to export any dataset in Arena to a .kml file for display and analysis in google earth.
Trey from Brookwood Church showed their members portal, and its very awesome integration of "contact us" and assignments, allowing people to sign in and initiate staff followup. Several other people showed stuff they had been working on as well, and then in a huge surprise, Scott from Watermark Church showed us their ShadeTree implementation via Skype. Scott is not here but has been participating on the developer IRC and watching and listening to the feed that Mike Gold setup. ShadeTree is a very cool spiritual formation app that also includes a very nice members portal and social networking features. I like ShadeTree a lot, and it already looks better than the Arena public portals in a lot of ways, but I think for us our preference is to keep things as tightly integrated with Arena as possible, and that means not using ShadeTree for group management, even though it's pretty good at it. But the spiritual formation aspects are really exciting, and I am looking forward to making that happen at HDC.
Finally at 6 we called it a day and headed off to dinner. After dinner we moved to the lobby where we are sitting now, discussing Arena, coding, comparing notes and just hanging out together. Day one has been great so far, and it's not over.