January 02 2009

2009 == The Year of Spreeby railsdog

Well 2008 has come and gone and its been a good year for the Spree project. The project really started in March 2008. Prior to that it was known as Railscart and was just a rough starting point for something that I was experimenting with. In less then a year Spree has become a legitimate ecommerce platform used by hundreds of Rails developers around the world.

I expect great things from the Spree project in 2009. Several of last year’s major contributors remain active in the project and End Point (my employer) continues to bring in new Spree business. More paying Spree work means more great features for the rest of the community. Spree also continues to be adopted by developers outside of End Point which will lead to many more awesome contributions.

Currently there are two major efforts going on. The first is the order_refactor branch which represents some major changes to how orders are dealt with in the admin interface. The order screen is broken up into multiple tabs and we’re working towards supporting multiple payments and shipments for a single order. Eventually we be adding explicit support for multiple forms of payment (check, money order, coupons, etc.)

The second major refactoring going on is being led by Brian Quinn. Brian is doing a ton of work getting the i18n stuff working with Rails 2.2 (currently this support is being provided by the gloablite plugin.) This work is coming along nicely and Brian is in the final stages of getting all of our tests working again. I should also mention that Edmundo has been quite active as well with lots of patches and some interesting plugins for the Brazilian community.

In 2009 we will continue to emphasize compatibility with the latest Rails releases. That’s easier said then done, however, as Rails moves at a very rapid pace and makes many non trivial changes between releases. The Rails + Merb merger announcement came as a big shock to all of us but I think its a welcome development. We’ll obviously be supporting Rails 3 and beyond.

My open source roots trace back to Apache where inclusiveness and collaboration are the key to running a successful project. Its nice to see the Rails team be more open to alternate view points. This has been my philosophy for running the Spree project all along. If you compare the Spree project to other Rails commerce projects written by one or two people, I think the results speak for themselves.

We will also continue to put a high priority on supporting our localization features. Spree has a very large set of users outside of the U.S. and by accommodating these users we can spread the adoption of Spree and receive some great contributions in return. After the initial Rails 2.2 support is provided, I plan to add many rake tasks for making it easier to keep all of the translations up to date. It should soon be possible to issue simple rake tasks to identify missing content for translation or to jump start a new translation file.

There are also some exciting new features to look forward to in 2009. Full text search is one major feature that I think should be incorporated into the core. Edmundo already has an interesting extension and I look to expand upon this work. We’re also going to slick up the admin interface to make it look more polished. I’m also looking to create a fancy looking demo store to show off what Spree can do. This wouldn’t be part of the core, it would be a separate GitHub project that would also serve as a working example of how Spree can be customized for a specific set of needs. Please contact me if you’re handy with graphics and want to contribute some time and ideas.

Last year was a great start for Spree but this year will be the year the project comes into its own. We’ve got a great community in place and more people discovering the project each day. As the real world deployment base expands we will be getting exciting new features. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the project so far. Thank you for your ideas, feedback, support, bug reports and (most importantly) your code. I look forward to working together with you this year to make Spree a truly awesome commerce platform. Best of luck to everyone this year in your professional and personal endeavors.