SAKAI - Open Source LMS or Developer Framework?
SAKAI Release Candidate 2
It's not fair to evaluate the current release candidate against the goals of the SAKAI program. It is widely accepted that these aims will not be realized until version 2.0 in the spring/summer of next year. The current release is a snapshot of the code base that will be deployed at the leading SAKAI contributing universities. This fact alone is a testament to the practical and real world applicability of the solution.
The community is tired of frameworks that have not be tested on the real world and the SAKAI program should be commended for their dual track of defining an open framework for educational tools and delivering a production system to prove its viability.
The problem is that the open framework is already showing signs of the real world constraints it inherited for deployment. In every software project, the challenges of interoperability and deployment are at odds and compromises have to be made.
Much of the constraints inherited from both Chef (open source collaboration tool) and uPortal (open source portal) are evident in the current code snapshot and it will take some time and effort to unwind them.
SAKAI uses the Spring Framework to define the loose coupling between components in the framework. The use of Spring and similar lightweight containers is a good approach for loose binding components without the need for a full J2EE container. What is not clear is the value the SAKAI framework would provide over an above Spring itself. Spring is a development framework and, it its current state, so is SAKAI.
Working towards two separate but connected goals in parallel is no easy task. Thats before you add software.
Lets hope those waiting outside expectantly (myself included) give the team enough breathing room to define the information models and business tier that will allow us to plug in our own teaching and collaboration tools.