No developerWorks Content Will Be Left Behind, IBM Promises
November 25, 2019 Alex Woodie
IBM faced a stiff backlash last month when it announced plans to shut down a popular developerWorks portal, leaving it up to content owners to find a new home for their content. Since then, the company has taken steps to reassure worried customers that no content will be lost as part of the move.
IBM hasn’t significantly changed its plans, which call for the developerWorks Connections website and all developerWorks Connections applications to be taken offline or deactivated on December 31 of this year. All of the content that is hosted there – including thousands of blogs, files, forums, wikis, and activities generated by its customers and tech professionals over the years – will no longer be accessible through those avenues starting January 1, 2020.
But most, if not all, of the content that’s currently on web pages starting with “ibm.com/developerworks/community” will be migrated to one of the sites that is intended to serve as a replacement, said Greg Gorman, the IBM director who owns the developerWorks website.
“We have had a lot of content owners reach out to us, and we are actively working with each of them to find the correct, new home for their content,” Gorman told IT Jungle via email. “It likely will land in one of several places: IBM Communities, IBM Support, or IBM KnowledgeCenter. Other content may end up at non-IBM sites as the owner sees fit. It’s something we are depending on them to decide, that way the ‘right’ stuff ends up at the ‘right’ location.”
The IBM i community responded negatively last month when IBM added a note to the top of all developerWorks Community webpages that were slated to be sunsetted. The idea of losing years’ worth of technical content prompted men and women in the community to speak out against IBM’s intended direction.
On Twitter, MIDRANGE-L, and other online gathering points, customers encouraged others who were upset with the sunset plan to submit feedback to IBM through a “support form” that Big Blue set up to solicit feedback. Many apparently took the opportunity to do so.
While Gorman insists that the community overreacted, he also admitted that IBM could have done a better job of communicating with the community about its plans, specifically with regard to the content owners, with whom IBM has been working with the entire time to re-host content. “I will have the team add more clarity to the FAQ to help clarify the plans,” Gorman said. “I think we can do a better job of assuaging fears.”
According to the updated FAQ, IBM will perform a backup of all developerWorks Connections content prior to January 1. That will ensure that the company is able to rehost the content after it has been removed from the soon-to-be-defunct developerWorks Connections website.
“The content is NOT being discarded,” Gorman wrote. “We are archiving it and providing it to all the content owners so they can curate and move the information that is still relevant and useful. We’ll also have it around in a backup in case ‘stragglers’ contact us next year for their data.”
The promise to back up all content is the main change that IBM made, which is now evident in the FAQ. When IBM announced the end of the developerWorks Connections in early October, Gorman was not 100 percent sure that IBM would be able to back it up due to technical considerations of the platform that hosts the content. As a result, Gorman elected to make no assurances that it would be backed up, which he realizes was upsetting to some people.
“The environment that hosts the site doesn’t natively support export or backup, so I’ve had part of my dev team ‘hacking’ on the software package to see if they can get data out of it without a lot of manual intervention,” Gorman says. “We’ve recently been able to do a pretty good job of it.”
Gorman’s team is also working with several members of the IBM community, including IBM Champions, and he credits them with helping to figure out a way to efficiently back up the content.
After January 1, interested parties will still be able to find developerWorks Connections content thanks to website redirects that IBM is adding to select developerWorks pages. That should further alleviate people’s concerns that the content will be lost forever.
“We will be setting up URL redirects to help people locate the new homes as the content is relocated,” Gorman continued. “They can be placed as soon as the content owners give us the ‘thumbs up’ that their stuff is ready.”