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As we start to change some of how we interact with the user community for our software, it's been a mutual suggestion by the Board and the development team that we try and do a better job of keeping people aware of what we're up to as a project and what our upcoming plans look like. To that end, the updates that have been traditionally provided on a monthly basis to the Board will be done publically using wiki postings. Obviously, we can't share 100% of what we're doing because of, for example, security issues we haven't disclosed yet, but for the most part I'm going to try and limit the amount of sanitization.

We welcome feedback on anything we're doing via either comments or preferably the development list.

Before I cover more recent activity in another entry, it's probably appropriate to review 2017 to date.

This has been a transitional year to some degree because there tends to be a rule of "three", whereby the third version of something tends to be the thing you wished you'd done to begin with if you had had the time. While it's technically the fourth "feature" update, IdP V3.3.0 was really the third substantial one (the first was really a bug fix that necesitated API additions, so it became a minor bump instead of just a patch).

The major goal for this release was to deliver a revised framework for handling multi-factor authentication and for orchestrating more complex login flows to address a lot of the enterprise use cases we've been struggling to support well since the original release. Since then, there's been a lot of time spent documenting and supporting that work to make sure it's working for people and to figure out the best ways of doing various things with it. I personally have probably spent up to 15-20% more time on support than usual in fact.

The rest of our time not spent on the usual day to day has been divided between:

  • V3.4 planning and development
  • Mapping out a plan for a new SP version
  • Completing the transition of all our projects to git, which is now completed
  • Consulting on Internet2's TIER packaging efforts
  • Transitioning the old web site off our system to relieve the developers of the burden of supporting it
  • Summer-long discussions and planning for the support changes announced last month

A few of those are worth some elaboration.

The IdP V3.4 release is really more about V4. It's a transition release intended to warn deployers about any use of deprecated features or settings so that there is ample time to adapt anything before V4 is released and removes most of those bits. There are some features planned, notably new support for metadata-driven configuration, but the main purpose is to suitably sunset the V3 branch to support a hopefully-seamless transition for most deployers to V4. That will be the first major release we've ever done whose goal is not to rewrite the software or deliver radical changes but to actually pare back the code and remove old features, change defaults, etc. We hope to deliver V3.4 no later than Q1 2018, and hopefully sooner.

The SP is long overdue for a major update, but realistically that's not likely to happen given its relative maturity and the bandwidth we have as a project. What is needed however is a documentation cleanup, a lot of dependency care and feeding, and a reassessment of our platform support (i.e., Solaris, this means you). So there will be a V3 SP but it's not likely to be a rewrite or even a significant change really (with the notable exception of a native IIS7 module which is already available to test). Unfortunately that doesn't make it a small amount of work because the bulk of it is work we have to do to remediate issues in our dependencies, many of which are no longer being effectively maintained by the Apache Software Foundation. In a perfect world, we would change them to more supported options, but that's a bit prohibitive without additional developers to pick up slack in other areas.

Those are the major highlights. This month's "regular" update won't be very exciting given that a lot of it is covered above but will be put together for tomorrow's Board meeting, so look for it shortly.

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