Oyster Project – write an open-source tool for instant webapp provisioning/deployment to the cloud in one day… why aim so low?

Yesterday, I submitted Oyster as a possible project for the northwestengland.pm Hackday. Last year, the team built Planet Ironman, an aggregator for Perl bloggers. As well as the several man-days of work during the hackday itself, the group then ran with the project for the next year. NWE.pm are a really smart bunch of guys, so getting that kind of quality attention to a new opensource project would be a great prize! So I was really hoping that people would be as enthusiastic about Oyster as I was.

Oyster started out from a conversation with Guy Dickinson, who was suggesting that Ruby having an instant deployment (and zero sysadmin) platform in the form of Heroku made it a great target for web apps. Heroku is truly cool, but of course it’s a commercial application rather than a community project. Oyster, as a project, will start with building tools to Just Launch Your WebApp in the cloud, and will hopefully lead on to community hosting options, but (and I think this is a key point) without preventing somebody at a later date building a commercial platform on top of it. Oyster is quite ambitious, but even a single hackday would be able to get it nicely kick-started!

I’ll write about this in more detail soon, but in the meantime you can look at the Oyster presentation on slideshare. I was quite pleased with it, and though there were some excellent projects proposed, it won the bid, yay!

Or rather, it was one of the projects that won the bid ;-) Mark Keating suggested in his Why Aim So Low? presentation, we should continue to maintain Ironman over the next year too. We also agreed with Matt Trout that we could spend some time (in Hackday intervals, or short sprints over the year) triaging bugs for Perl 5 core. And finally, we’d all really liked Iain’s “Hackday in a Box” idea (a 1-page management console for hackday projects) but thought it was perhaps a small project for a hackday. And so we decided to incorporate it into the day by having Hackday in a Box be the sample application for Oyster!

All the voting and negotiations happened in a really nice consensus building way, and worked really well! We’re all set for the next steps which are: