Developing website

The development of the NABUUR site is ongoing. You're welcome to join, what ever you can offer (ideas, documentation, code...)

What is needed?

For the current site, there are maintenance tasks and sometimes bug fixes and code upgrades. You can find more information in a few places:

We're also working on revamping the website and upgrading to a newer Drupal version.

How can you join?

Get in touch, for instance through the IRC chat channel #nabuur on freenode!

What are the plans for ongoing maintenance and upgrades of the Nabuur website? I can help with a Drupal 7 upgrade.

Brylie Oxley
GrowHost -
GNUmedia -


I've had a look, but I'm afraid I can't quickly switch off the 'stalled' messages.
I'm supposed to meet Kester next week. Will ask him to have a look.



Hi Ildikó,

Yes, you're right we should switch off those messages.
I'm not sure if I can easily do that myself, but will look into it.



Dear All,

could it be anything done about these stupid messages which we get all the time through mail saying us that our project has been "STALLED" because no acivity there in three months!!!!!!!!! We have had lot's of activities the last weeks.I got the message this morning. I am going to be crazy about these messages.

Can anyone do something about this?

Kind regards,
Ildikó Stormbom
Facilitator for Matopeni


Hi D(ee),

Thanks for the offer!
I don't think your ideas are out of sync, actually there are quite a few things in there that we really could use help with.

One of the ideas that has come up earlier is to stimulate villages to work together based on their issues - thematic grouping and learning so to say. I'm interested to hear more about your 'Community Resources Toolbox' idea.

The same goes for volunteer support. I'm aware NABUUR can be a labyrinth, more or less. If you have some concrete input to improve that, let me know.

I'm not really sure how easy it is to set up email notifications on this site. To be honest - and as you can see from the dates of the posts you replied to - it's already a long time wish to move from this site to a better one. We just somehow got stuck during the transformation from being a staff run organisation to a volunteer run community. (More info on that here

There is also a public folder with NABUUR docs - mostly related to developing a new strategy - which you can find here. I think it gives a clear picture of the past year (and a half), which has not been an easy ride. (I hope it doesn't scare you off)

Perhaps it's easiest to get in touch on Skype or so, to get a better picture of what you could help with. My id is pelleaardema (on skype, yahoo, msn, ...)

Hope to talk soon,



QUOTE (If you're interested in helping bring the discussion on other Big Vision elements towards user stories or requirements, that will be a great help to then let the community prioritise those and line up the next steps for the web developers to focus on.) END

Hi Rolf
I am not sure if I can help in this group, but I'm great at taking on laborious boring jobs as long as I know what I am doing... I hopped over to the tasks windows and didn't really get it, but it's possible there is stuff I can do, just not sure how to start...

In terms of prioritising here, from first impressions as a newbie around here - who may well be just sticking her oar in out of sync! - it seems that there are plenty of cries for help in terms of practical knowledge of how to put projects into place on the ground, or get projects going in terms of getting funded support or getting hte message of communities out to the wider world. Perhaps NABUUR camp referred to in your message also started the prioritisation for tasks here with the site. Is there a document I can look at in Googledocs to see how I can fit in here to give me the background to how the site is developing, what tasks are needed, how to use the task management pages here?

I cannot help thinking there is some stuff around techy solutions here which are also about the needs of busy people who are helping out here to ease the flow of information to those who need it. E.g. Workflow could be helped with something like email alerts in our personal accounts when messaged on here. Some of our employers don't take kindly to accessing websites they know nothing about and which "could compromise the company online security"...

Tag clouds... I love them and think they are a great way for those seeking answers to find their own ways into tasks needing sorting. This of course depends on information resources being available... There are some very knowledgeable people responding to some very specialist projects here, but I wonder if their knowledge is getting buried in time? Perhaps, I am volunteering here again in terms of knowledge systems / education / training materials...

Anyway, I'm offering help here, but need some pointers perhaps. Should I jsut keep continuing to read around here, reading until I fall into some niche I can cover?

Interesting issue to note here. I used keywords of volunteer support, which did not come up as having been raised as 'key words' before here. Any voluntary sector agency will agree that volunteer support is vital to workflow effectiveness. The I.T. systems can do that as much as helping the communities directly. Is this in the big picture?

Please point me to some Googledocs to do some homework!!! Thanks D
If I am not sure of my next step, I ask or make it up as I go along : D


I wondered about the 'Big Vision' here too. I'm a new-comer and am still learning about how I might fit in here. Training does seem to be an issue for communities writing funding applications, let alone all the practical hands on project managment stuff. There is a lot of links provided to outside agencies in forum postings for further resources I note and that is how it should be. However, a Community REsources Toolbox of some description which can be accessed via some kind of Tag Cloud could be a great training resource to develop. (Yes, I am volunteering here, if anyone with the same idea is reading this).
Otherwise, folk could be duplicating efforts and we need to give people resource links or materials to work with which could be put together in a more structured way...Even is this is haphazard via a tag cloud... Hope am not talking out the top of my hat here or teaching you to suck eggs!!! : )


If I am not sure of my next step, I ask or make it up as I go along : D


Hi Ron, and all,

Maybe first to clarify for some readers: I meant "wicked context" as a variation of "wicked problems" ( :-)

In the web development, I'd like to think we're making some quite important usability improvements by changing the concepts a bit, and the flow in the interface a lot: a bit more than just changing the presentation of what we have, but indeed not incorporating other areas of a Big Vision.

The core concept of NABUUR appeals to people when they hear about it, but once you work with the site, that concept and appeal looses its glamour. Letting the concept shine through in more pages and making it more appealing will help, and provide a cleaner platform to build on.

At NABUURCamp, we had some good feedback from the local representatives on what will empower them and why, and also from the whole community on current issues with the "project/task" environment. Especially the latter resulted in a quite drastic change (and we think a simplification) in how the projects and tasks will be handled. (One concrete request from the local representatives at NABUURCamp was to have a downloadable manual/instruction, to be able to prepare offline and outside an internet cafe.)

Parts of the bigger vision and the processes around training and project approval are being discussed (see e.g. Maria's comment and the work in the Support and Resources group and haven't yet been translated into web requirements.

So yes, the web team is currently focused on the concrete improvements around flow and usability. If you're interested in helping bring the discussion on other Big Vision elements towards user stories or requirements, that will be a great help to then let the community prioritise those and line up the next steps for the web developers to focus on.


Average: 2 (1 vote)


Thank you for the comments. Please do not think that I regard iterative development or agile progression as anything wicked or wrong. ( I had a laugh at that!) The opposite is true as I have used them very effectively in the past. At the time introducing iterative development was like drawing teeth -remember changing folks' views away from the waterfall?

I think the difficulty we all (Nabuur) faces is certainly not with you reacting and developing the immediate changes that users say they want. You are responding to their demands as best you can and I have no criticism of that. I acknowledge and appreciate that you are trying to the 'fix the current concern' level but I am talking about the bigger Visionary concept for Nabuur. You say 'we picked one or two rather abstract "user stories" as requirements" and that is absolutely fine at a working level of ensuring say, a 'new screen appears with a different layout and additional information etc., that a user wants' as requested.
You mention that you 'worked on the way the flow should be for particular types of users' and that is getting nearer to where we need to be. I think, and please correct me if I am wrong, that you are focussing on displaying what we already have in a better way/style/format. Again I have no problem with that, you are simply trying to meet what people are asking to do to make their job easier, and that is great.

The difficulty is that I am not sure that anyone has documented the Big Vision for Nabuur that (I think) it needs to have, if it is to succeed in the future.
Let me give you a couple of examples -
* Training the FACs and LR's is a big problem do you have a schema for building training sessions/lessons? CBT? interactive teaching?
* Do we have some method of ensuring that a village team has enough ticks in the boxes to succeed before it starts out on a project?
* Do we have some methodology to connect (potential) donors to villages?

My concerns lie at the Visionary Level for the future; if everything is in place to address that, I apologize and I'll be delighted to shut up from here on in.
My fear is that we may not be addressing the bigger picture things that I have mentioned.....


Average: 4 (1 vote)

Just had a chance to catch up with the contributions here. Thanks Ron, for explaining the wicked context in which NABUUR tries to work and might approach things. I fully agree that it's much more than "just" a communication tool.

Let me try to explain how we develop the new site so far, building exactly on the "different steps to be taken depending on the direction a person wants to go (e.g. just looking, register, help a village, Facilitate, etc)" that Ron mentions.

After the migration from Xoops to Drupal and the relaunch in July 2008, NABUUR started adopting an agile development process with monthly "sprints". In each "sprint", we picked one or two rather abstract "user stories" as requirements, and worked on the way the flow should be for particular types of users, designed forms and pages, built them, and tested them with various people.

We continued with that at NABUURCamp, with a group of people with very diverse backgrounds and expectations. General ideas like "As a local rep, I want to have a 'My Nabuur' dashboard so that I can do as much as possible if I have half an hour online time" have been discussed in detail (see eg. for some of the notes), and partly built.

NABUURCamp participants built the homepage they wanted to see ("As a visitor, I want to mmediately understand what the site is about, so that I can quickly decide whether I want to stay here and (maybe) join").

We don't have a blueprint or well-documented processes (yet?), as we're still establishing what works best for us, and also try to incorporate "best practices" we see in other open source and volunteer-driven web projects we're involved in. The 5 or 6 people who currently do the tech work in their free time have a lot of things to choose from.

If you're into website development, then please do join if you want to: communicate things more clearly to the whole NABUUR community, document the processes we follow, improve existing requirements, test designs or results with users, contribute code or designs, etc etc.

Drop an email to the nabuurcamp list, join the chat channel #nabuur on freenode. Or check out the next steps I just sent out to the list:

- Wednesday 17 March 6pm we'll have another gathering in Amsterdam, at "Budapest", the communal space behind the Buddha on the Pesthuislaan.

Both the group space on and the developers' site have undergone quite a bit of cleanup, so we should have all inputs organised online by tomorrow.

We'll also prepare a bit for another event:

- Friday 19 March 9am-5pm a lot of us will be at DrupalJam in Amsterdam, and Frans has talked KPN into donating their table to NABUUR. So we'll have an opportunity to present NABUUR to "all Drupal developers in The Netherlands".

Sign up on if you want to come along as well!

- Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24, Pelle and Rolf will participate in the Ecampaigning Forum in Oxford. Last year, Romina facilitated a great discussion about working with online volunteers. One of our main topics for this year is creating more opportunities to connect platforms like NABUUR to each other.

- Thursday 25, Niels, Pelle and Rolf will meet up in London, to whip the roadmap further into shape and discuss the budget for speeding up development. Others in London who want to join?


Ron- thank you for taking the time to write such an intelligent and practical response to my $64 million dollar question! My mind is spinning- I have had to reread your post twice- and some!
I am not alone in wondering how on earth we progress this. Your simple plan makes sense. Clearly it is a much bigger job than re-doing some web pages and adding some extra functionality.
Everyone is doing their very best but like others have noted- it seems we are spinning our wheels.

How do we do this - when the over-riding feeling in these Posts over the last month is that we're still barking up the wrong tree?
It's a rhetorical question...I don't know if there is a solution based on the limited funds, the lack of paid staff or designated resources.
Is it time to start Nabuur again?? It wouldn't be the first time that orgs or groups have had to re-invent themselves or morph into something bigger and better due to growth and shifting priorities. Sorry...not being helpful...but I just had to say it out loud!


Average: 4 (1 vote)


That is such a simple question- but you have asked the proverbial $64M one!
I cannot give you a full answer to be honest.
I am using many years of Project/Technical/Development/Management experience to look at what is happening with the Nabuur website.

My comments here are not in any way intended as a criticism of what has been done so far. I think things are more simply explained by saying that the original model of 'let's allow people to communicate' which was fine to start with, has not kept pace with the growth and demands that the volunteers and villages have placed on it. It now needs to expand to allow for the growth and changes to it that we have seen thus far, and expect from it in the future.
This is 'functionality' growth that the founders could not be expected to have foreseen.
(For the avoidance of doubt I am not referring to size or bandwidth or Db capability here.) I am talking about supporting the various needs that have arisen from the growth of Nabuur's activities. For example in addition to just communicating, very important though that is, we need to be helping village LR's (only if they want and choose to) to learn skills to improve internet access, communicate, plan, find other neighbours, find information, find funding, etc.
Similarly we need to help FACs (only if they want and choose to) learn skills to improve internet capabilities, to learn new skills, communicate, plan, attract other neighbours, find information, find funding,etc. Some functions for example 'Search' exist but many, for example 'Teach me' do not.

So my conclusion is that our site has to do more than just provide a communications medium. Our uniqueness is not communications, as others have pointed out elsewhere twitter and facebook do that better than we can and we should remember that we are not in competition with them for that. Our strength is in having volunteers with a common aim, we want to improve the outcome for others by using our skills to help them. We do that via the internet and at its most simple level through communicating, but we have seen that only a small percentage of the villages with problems they want help fixing actually achieve their end solution. So communication alone does not improve the outcome for villages to as high a level as we want to achieve, we need more capabilities to achieve that.
It is this lack of overall success for villages that concerns me and many other members. There are many reasons for the difficulties, some of which I have posted comments about before, that's when I believe I have some expertise to add to the debate, and for the other reasons, other people have commented, such as funding, governance, unrealistic expectations and the like.

Now back to your question. I believe that the processes that we should follow, and there will be several permutations, require different steps to be taken depending on the direction a person wants to go (e.g. just looking, register, help a village, Facilitate, etc) are not clearly enough defined. I am not sure that these have been mapped out for the various different 'routes' that are needed. I believe this is where the problem lies. This is what we have to improve if we are to make Nabuur more effective. (There may be some slight difference of opinion here between myself, who favours a logical stepped approach and that of the founder Siegfried, who I think favours a more organic 'just let the neighbours do it' approach. That notwithstanding we have common purpose in wanting to improve the lot of others so its the just the way we get there that we may not entirely agree with. I mention this because we cannot define the process if there is not a Common Understanding of what it should be. Perhaps this is something else that the members of Nabuur need to agree on?)

Until we have the processes clearly mapped out it is not possible for an engineer to define the logical steps and write the software to do the necessary tasks. (This is where I have the deepest sympathy for Niels and co., they are being asked to do the unachievable in my view, because they are not starting at the beginning of these processes but are being asked to add things half way through to something which does not in totality do the job we need it to do.)
I know that some of the functions we need, for example register or post a message are already there but many more such as 'develop a plan' or 'gain knowledge about something' or 'be trained on something' or 'find funding help' are not as well, if at all, catered for. Nabuur has to consider what it wishes to do about these things and here, like yourself I am not sure that these discussions are happening; again this is not intended as a barbed comment for anyone merely an observation on the situation we find ourselves in.

I believe that the resolution of the these problems will allow us to define the logical processes we need. Once defined that allows us to give the engineers, software code writers, database designers etc the information they need to be able to assess what we have Versus what we need. Then we will know what is re-usable and what functions/code needs to be written from scratch to support the expanded demand from Nabuur that everyone is searching for.


Average: 5 (3 votes)

Ron- what you describe sounds very sensible and it sounds like the right solution. What depresses me is that I don't get the feeling we're headed that way. Does your System-Process-Functionality model require building Nabuur from scratch? Or can it still work with the basis of what we already have?



You are pointing out what may seem obvious to a PM/Sys Eng/IT Developer but it is probably not obvious to many readers of these pages.
You said "Nabuur is a communication tool and not a website." I think you are heading in the right direction there, but I would go even further.
Put another way Nabuur needs a 'System which allows a user to establish their user type, user definition,and capability, and then be directed to a suite of functions/functionality (with agreed processes) such as register, training, matching (for learning from other projects on the Db), ability/skill progression and assessment, funding access capability, and leading to project definition and management, reporting, and then learning and archiving.' This is much, much more than just communication.

What I believe is actually needed is a Systems Engineering approach from beginning to end which determines what Nabuur wants to do (use Requirements capture and analysis to do this) then define the process and map it to the functionality required to support the process. (I've intentionally left out traceability, test and validate, etc. )

What I think is happening is a website/page building exercise, which will not bring the benefits that are needed. Iterative development of a webpage is not the problem Nabuur faces but I think that is what it is doing and in so doing hoping it is solving its problem.

I believe System-Process-Functionality should be where Nabuur is heading and not just developing a communications platform. Hopefully someone can tell me I am wrong and explain why.


Average: 5 (1 vote)

Niels: Please clarify your statement: "Virginia: I am trying to help addressing the point of laundering washing in public, we cant spend hours/days looking at homepages, spelling mistakes and images if we cant find a way of displaying the right information to the right people no matter the colour. and as this is an online group with people based across the world we have to have this discussion here but no "guests" should not be able to follow the "bickering".
Why are you spending hours and days correcting spelling mistakes? and "no 'guests' should not be able to follow the bickering" If that is "No, guests should not be able to follow..." that means you agree with me, that we shouldn't be airing our laundry, but as written it is "no guests should not be allowed to follow..." which means just the opposite - 2 'no's' equal a positive in English. Honestly, I am Not being critical - but I am sincerely trying to understand what your Thank you,