The community of users and developers of the GeoNetwork software has increased dramatically since the release of version 2.0 in December 2005 and the subsequent releases. At present, the user and developer mailing lists count well over 250 subscriptions each. Subscription to these lists is open to anyone interested. The archive of the mailing lists provides an important resource for users and can be freely browsed online. Members provide feedback within the community and provide translations, new functionalities, bug reports, fixes and instructions to the project as a whole. Building a self sustaining community of users and developers is one of the biggest challenges for the project. This community-building process relies on active participation and interaction of its members. It also relies on building trust and operating in a transparent manner, thereby agreeing on the overall objectives, prioritization and long term direction of the project. A number of actions have been taken by the project team to facilitate this process.
The foundation for the establishment of a GeoNetwork Advisory Board was laid at the 2006 workshop in Rome and membership criteria were defined.
A work plan is presented and discussed at the yearly GeoNetwork workshop; subsequently, the plan is maintained and updated throughout the year where needed. The project management team reports back to the advisory board about the reached developments and objectives during the annual workshops.
Two public Websites have been established. One focuses on the users of the software (http://geonetwork-opensource.org), while the other one is dedicated to the developers (http://trac-osgeo.org/geonetwork). Both can be updated and maintained online by trusted members of the community. They provide documentation, bug reporting and tracking, Wiki pages et cetera. A small part of the community connects through Internet Relay Chat (IRC) on a public #geonetwork channel. But most interaction takes place on the user and the developer mailing lists.
During the 2006 workshop, the Project Advisory Board decided to propose the GeoNetwork opensource project as an incubator project to the newly founded Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). This incubation process is currently ongoing but close to conclusions. The project Websites have been moved to servers accessible under the umbrella of the OSGeo foundation. Web pages have been updated to reflect the OSGeo principles and a source code review performed.
Source code is maintained in a publicly accessible code repository, hosted at an independent service provider, SourceForge.net that hosts thousands of FOSS projects. Developers and users have full access to all sections of the source code, while trusted developers can make changes in the repository itself. A special mailing list has been established to monitor changes in the code repository. This so-called "commit mailing list" delivers change reports by email to its subscribers.
The documentation is written in DocBook format to ensure versioning and support of multiple output formats (e.g. HTML and PDF).