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Introducing the Footprint Project

Posted by felipegaucho on June 11, 2007 at 6:30 AM PDT

Few months ago, my JUG participated in the Sun Tech Days Brazil - with more the three thousand participants over 20 different cities. The event was fantastic and the international evangelists sponsored by Sun made a great work introducing new technologies and the prospective innovations about Java. Despite the great success, the management model of JUGs - uniquely based on community collaboration - caused some issues on the organization of the events in all participant cities.

This kind of situation motivates international JUG leaders to discuss on how to prevent or mitigate these problems in order to aggregate more quality to the local events. * If you are JUG leader,
you can (and must) participate of our discussions here
.

The need of events certificates

The most part of Java professionals invests in their carriers without much concern about proving when they buy books, attend conferences or courses - they are just serious professionals looking for technical education and they usually don't care if the conferences provide digital or printed certificates of participation. In many countries it is common such investment to be supported by the companies as part of their competitiveness strategies. Unfortunately, not all societies are so stable and fair with people and some markets are so competitive that forces people to register their investment in education as a better chance during job interviews. People living in these under development countries - like Brazil - looks forward some official way to prove they are skilled, including all types of certificates: Java Certifications, graduation and post-graduation diplomas and even minor certificates like participation in local events.

Other common situation in such emergent societies is about the working time. Most part of the JUG events are scheduled during weekends or evenings to provide the local professionals a better chance to attend. Despite that, some bigger events like Sun Tech Days are only possible during the commercial time. Every time we invade the companies working time we feel some kind of disturbance in the JUG community, when some members are just not allowed to participate because their companies don't believe in changing the contracted working time for self-education working time.

The discussion about the relationship between professionals and companies are far beyond the
goal of this blog entry, and in many cases JUGs can do not much about that. I guess however that one of
important goals of a JUG is to promote this kind of discussion to help the community to evolve
through examples and identification of what is good and what is not so good in the local Java community.

footprint.jpg

Other important learned lesson for me - after 5 years as JUG leader in a community without good salaries and without good working conditions for the average case - is that the discussion about better ways to work must be done in parallel of actions to promote a better life for people today. We cannot just discuss philosophically or wait a better society in ten years, we must dream of that but we also must try to mitigate any problem that bothers the quotidian of the JUG members. In that sense, I created the footprint project.

The footprint project

Inspired by the need of JUG Events certificates, we wrote a set of User Stories in the project home-page, but the
main goals for the moment are summarized below:

  • Generate certificates for JUG events: basically signed PDF documents that say this person attended
    this event
    . It is already working in the current snapshot release
    of footprint
    .
  • Provide a web-service to validate the generated certificates:it means, once a JUG member present his CV to
    a human resource department, they can validate if the attached certificates are valid and recognized by the JUG.
    This feature is just planned to be done, but we are still discussing the best technologies and also the best
    way to use digital certificates to sign the documents.
  • Fidelity Program
    for Java events
    : it is an old dream,to have a way to do cross-conferences promotions, giving your JUG
    or commercial conference a chance to check if you attended the last
    JavaOne
    or Jazoon, per example. If your JUG can know who attended the last three
    events, you can provide them some vip attention. It is easy to be done in your local community, but if I go to one
    of your JUG events and say I was present in the last three events of a JUG elsewhere..., how can you check that? Easy
    use case for one or two people - in a simple perspective,you just trust in my words and it is done :). But if you
    promote a conference with a thousand people, and you want to give some special privileges to the old customers or the
    ones that usually goes to international conferences - how to check that? I particularly love this feature because
    it detaches the project from localized problems and provide business possibilities for all Java community.

The project is new,we have a snapshot release available and we are discussing the user stories and designing the project
modules. We are looking for help, and even small contributions are very important now, like logo design,
early adoption and design tips and suggestions. Your experience and your
thoughts about the User Stories
are also very important, and
any suggestion that help us to do a better product will implies that your name will be included in the hall of fame of the footprint project.

So, visit our project, contribute and tell to your JUG leader about that - we certify you :)

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Comments

English: Hi, We are members of the Grupo Linux de la Universidad del Cauca - GLUC (http://gluc.unicauca.edu.co) and together with the Polux Group organised in late April, the Libre/Free Software Installation Festival FLISOL 2008 (http://www.flisol.info/FLISOL2008/Colombia/Popayan) in the city of Popayán (Colombia), We had to certify the presence of many people, so we were searching in Internet for applications that help us with this work, we noticed that exist very few free tools, until we reached the site of footprint, which we found interesting, and we implement it and we test it with excellent results, we use it to deliver via email a digital certificate to our assistants and saved us a long time. We have published a short article about our experience with footprint in Spanish on our site: http://gluc.unicauca.edu.co/wiki/index.php/Footprint_Gestor_Cetificados_... ========= Español: Hola, Somos integrantes del Grupo Linux de la Universidad del Cauca - GLUC (http://gluc.unicauca.edu.co) y junto con el Grupo Polux organizamos a finales de Abril, el Festival de Instalacion de Software Libre Flisol 2008 (http://www.flisol.info/FLISOL2008/Colombia/Popayan) en la ciudad de Popayán (Colombia), Tuvimos que certificar la asistencia de muchas personas, por lo que estuvimos buscando por Internet aplicaciones que nos ayudara con esta labor, hemos observado que son muy pocas las herramientas libres que existen, llegamos hasta el sitio de footprint, el cual, nos pareció interesante, lo implementamos y lo probamos con excelentes resultados, lo usamos para poder entregar el certificado digital por via email a nuestros asistentes y nos ahorró mucho tiempo. Hemos publicado un pequeño articulo sobre nuestra experiencia con footprint en español en nuestro sitio: http://gluc.unicauca.edu.co/wiki/index.php/Footprint_Gestor_Cetificados_...

Hi jwenting,

I agree with you in some points.. this issue about the quality of participation instead of a mere quantity of participations is something obvious and thereby very interesting to be evaluated in our system. During JavaOne I asked a lot of people about the project goals and also about the relevance of certificates in the nowadays scenario. I had good discussions with the Javapolis managers and also with the JavaOne managers. We all agree about the weakness of blind certificates (the certificate in format of a gift), and we all have some innovative ideas on how to get better in this subject.
In my own community we had passionate discussions about to have or not to have certificates in local conferences. At the end, I believe we can innovate in the near future. Per example: during JavaOne, the sessions had a smart-card check-in system in all entry doors. So, eventually we can use this information to at least confirm the presence of registered attendants. So, in the future, this conference can provide different certifications for the attendants based on the number and type of sessions they attended.
Let's see, for me it is just the beginning. We started creating a minimum infra-structure to publish certificates - all in digital format only. We will continue to work in this infra-structure and continue to promote a discussion about certificates. If my project help the community to open a discussion and take a step further, then I will consider it a success :)

every time another "certificate" is produced for some non-event like just turning up for a course or event the value of ALL certificates/diplomas degrades another notch.

Instead of flooding the world with ever more of such crap we should strive to reduce the number so only those that hold real value are retained. Maybe that way there will be some point in acquiring them.

As it is I've a big binder full of "course attendance certificate"s and stuff like that, all completely irrelevant. Often they're handed out to anyone who bothered to show up for the first day, no questions asked. If they were only handed out to people who attend all days AND pass some test to show they've learned something maybe there'd be some minimal value in them, as it is they're not worth the paper they're printed on.