Posts Tagged ‘cms’

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ifPeople is bringing in the new year with new ways technology can empower our local nonprofits!  We are organizing another Salesforce Nonprofit User Group meeting, which is on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 from 8am-10am and we’d love to see you there! If you want to the chance to collaborate, network, and share ideas with other salesforce users who are right here in the Atlanta area, then be sure to attend this Salesforce User Group meeting which will be held at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (address and parking info). Catering (coffee, breakfast yummies) will be provided by Cafe Campesino Atlanta.  Please RSVP here

The agenda is as follows:

8:00am-8:30am – Coffee and Networking

8:30am-8:45am – Announcements

8:45-9:15am – Dreamforce Panel

To highlight the excitement from December’s Dreamforce event, we will have a panel of highlights from participants at Dreamforce. The format will be “lightning talks” – 3 minute from each of several participants highlighting their favorite take-aways. If you attended Dreamforce and would like to share your highlights, please let us know (comment below or email us).

9:15-9:45am – Integrating Websites with Salesforce

The Atlanta User Group co-leader and ifPeople co-founder, Christopher Johnson, will demonstrate how the Open Source Content Management System Plone can be used to integrate a website with Salesforce in minutes! If you’re interested to get a sneak peak at the tools, see here and this webinar, and please join us for the followup hands on session when we put the knowledge into action (Sprint on Jan 24, event info here)!

9:45-10am: Q & A

We’ll discuss potential topics and presenters for future meetings.

If you have any questions about this Salesforce User Group meeting, you can contact Christopher at cjj@ifpeople.net. We look forward to seeing you there!

Please RSVP here.


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Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the best CMS of all? We may not have enchanted mirrors to tell us what the deal is, but Idealware has done nonprofits the favor of compiling an updated report that compares four major Content Management Systems and assesses their different strengths and weaknesses. The report, an update of the popular report that came out in 2009, takes into account the latest version of each of the tools. Even if you’re not with a nonprofit, this is likely one of the best sources of information comparing these tools!

IdealWare uses fourteen criteria to evaluate Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and Plone. Each system had its strengths and weaknesses but we were pleased to see that the CMS that we most often use, Plone, came out on top in a number of ways. The report noted that Plone was the CMS of choice for many major newspapers and large businesses. When measured against WordPress, Drupal and Joomla “Plone’s functionality is as strong, or stronger, than the other three systems in every area we reviewed except for one.” Go Plone! Below is a closer look at some of the strengths, and points of improvement for Plone

Securityplone logo
One aspect of Plone that is operating very competitively is website security. The report found that Plone’s architecture made it difficult for security issues to present themselves through add-ons or themes. There are also generally few vulnerabilities and errors. Plone beats out the rest hands down.

Accessibility and SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) determines how highly ranked your website is for specific keywords and Plone has several features built in that enhance how highly ranked a website is. Things like having an automatic header page and being prompted to use alt-tags on images is standard SEO practice that someone who’s not tech savvy could implement seamlessly. Plone also automatically populates metadata fields from the content of a page.

Ease of Use for Content Managers
While Plone can be used for complex websites, it excells as being easy to use in terms of the interface for managing the content. It is easy for anyone to keep their site updated with editing tools that are in the same place that you view the content, as opposed to a backend area. The report notes how intuitive Plone’s dashboard is, and how simple it is to perform cornerstone tasks in website management like adding pages and editing text. Plone was one of the stronger CMS in making it easy for users to achieve their daily tasks.

So what didn’t Plone do so great in?
Plone is a complex system built on a different architecture than the other systems compared (a main factor in why it is more secure!). As a result, it is a little more challenging to install and set-up without the expertise of consultants who know the system and tools. Even so, Plone has made huge improvements in the last two years to provide great ease of installation experience. While we are confident that tech-savvy self-starters can figure it out, ifPeople is also happy to do the heavy lifting when it comes to taming the technology for your use! Contact us if we can help you evaluate Plone for your website or sign up for one of our monthly Plone demos (free webinar). The ease, organization, and security your website will get will be well worth it.

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On September 1st, the latest version of Plone was released and a lot of innovation from this leading Content Management System is now available to new and existing Plone users! Plone 4 is more intuitive, more visually appealing, and faster. We’re so excited about this new version that we’ve been buried in working on it and launching new sites (check out the latest launch: SEEC) to get the news out for the last six week! Below are some of the key upgrades on Plone 4 that you may like:

ploneNew Look: Plone4 has a new template included when it is installed that is sleek, minimalist, and functional. After nine years of using a staple design, Plone 4 uses a modern table-less formatting and simplified CSS.

Performance Improvement: Plone 4 has a number of improvements that help it run fasterand more efficiently. It’s twice as fast as Plone 3 representing accelerating advances in performance for the platform (while many other systems are getting slower and more complex!). Plone 4’s capacity  to handle very large files has improved drastically since all file data is now stored on the file system rather than in the database. This enhances the ability of Plone to scale to handle huge content repositories out of the box!

Intuitive Visual Editing: The HTML editor in Plone 4 has been changed to a Tiny MCE which offers Plone users more ease and flexibility in design. It offers much stronger support of html tables and better support for embedded flash content. This visual editor is also widely used in other systems outside of Plone as well, meaning that it will have greater support and improvements over time. Overall Plone 4 provides better tools for creating the site you want with less of a headache.

Improved user management: Plone 4 has also streamlined the process of creating and managing users for your website. It is faster to create new users and place them in groups.

User Experience Improvements: You’ll notice several improvements in the way Plone leverages AJAX technologies in this version. The result is fewer page loads necessary to use and manage a website. Navigating to the back end administrative area of the website has been improved. Even small changes like allowing users to sign in with their email or username lend themselves to an improved user experience.

Other things we are excited about from this release:

  • Easy upgrading from Plone 3!
  • New version of the User’s Guide to Plone book!
  • The XDV templating tools that make it easy for designers to use html and css to create custom look and feel for Plone sites!

Plone 4 is a system that surpasses other CMS’s – open source and proprietary options – in terms of usability, security, community, and scalability. This latest release represents a lot of great work by the community and we congratulate and thank all those who have contributed to Plone 4!

If you’re interested to learn more about Plone, we invite you to:

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Just last month, David Glick announced some great news in the Plone-salesforce integration world. salesforcepfgadapter 1.6b2 has been released!

Some Background

salesforcepfgadapter = Salesforce.com + PloneFormGen

The adapter is the glue lets you take your forms made using the point-and-click easy to make forms killer Plone app (aka PloneFormGen) and integrate them with Salesforce.com via the API. It’s awesome – build forms and then make one or many things in your database of relationship, whether it’s a simple lead or tie together multiple objects from one form (account + contact + opportunity). Real world use case – you want someone to sign up for your newsletter on your website. The form creates a lead record for them and adds them to your newsletter campaign. Next time you send the newsletter, you’ve got it all right there without any extra effort!

What’s New?

This integration has been around for a while (4-ish years, I think), so why are we all excited you might ask? It’s all about the upsert!

While it’s always been easy to send new records into salesforce.com from the PFG form, what about the case where you want to let a user update their contact info? Or even more generally, what about creating a form that lets people with an existing record in your database update their record and those that are new to create a new record? This is the mythical upsert (update + insert) we’ve been waiting for! And, as David said, “You might say this release puts the RU in CRUD ;)”

That’s a Solid Beta

Back in the fall, we started poking around and asking questions about the upsert branch that had some work done and was mostly functional even. ifPeople ran that code through some rigorous work for a project, did some testing, provided some patches, and filed a few bugs. Seems that David (Groundwire) was also busy on the code base and got some help from others in the community (Alex Tokar from Web Collective, Jesse Snyder from NPower Seattle, Emanuel Sartor with ifPeople)  to get that branch code from the branch to a releaseable version. We’re glad to see it come to completion and grateful for the release management by David and Groundwire!

While this is released as a beta, this version has had some serious testing and work going into it. We’ve already got it in a production site that handles almost 2,000 users and ran load testing on the integration before launching that app.

What Else?

Ok, so it’s not just about the upsert…there were several bugs squashed in this release! There is a now a better way to configure hardcoded values that should always get passed to a particular field in Salesforce (e.g. a Lead Source). Other goodies:

  • read-only fields are no longer shown as options in the field mapping UI.
  • Info on the mapping of filenames and mimetype of file uploads (probably from an attachment object) sent directly to fields in Salesforce.com, in addition to the data itself. This should improve uploading files from the form to salesforce.com.
  • A new ‘Preset field values’ setting so that hardcoded values can be mapped to Salesforce fields, eliminating the need to create a hidden form field.
  • Plone 2.5 compatibility was restored and Plone 4 compatibility added.

Want more?

If you’d like a demo of how this integration works in live sites, please sign up for one of our upcoming free webinars!

For more on how to use these features and to download the latest, see the product page on plone.org.

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Today, I’m taking a look at SilverStripe in my series of posts about applications nominated for Packt Publishing Open Source CMS Awards.  Prior to this morning, I’ve had no experience using SilverStripe.

My first impression of SilverStripe was similar to my first impression of MODx: out of the box functionality seems to be very limited.  Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but something that you should be aware of.  You will likely need to do additional work or download SilverStripe extras to get a site that functions the way that you want it too.  The back end for SilverStripe is clean and intuitive, though it seems stripped down almost to a fault.  There are five tabs: “Site Content” where you can add or edit pages in the site, “Files & Images” where you can manage uploads (a much better interface than MODx, by the way), “Comments” where you can moderate site comments, “Security” where you manage users and access permissions, and “Help.”  I find it particularly disconcerting that there appears to be no place where I can manage themes or plugins, since I already know that I am going to want to extend the functionality of the CMS.  I check out the SilverStripe tutorials to see how I can do something that doesn’t involve adding simple pages to the site.  I start with a tutorial that will walk me through adding a form.  I am immediately directed to edit PHP files in my SilverStripe directory.

At this point, the SilverStripe story begins to become clear to me.  SilverStripe is a PHP application framework with minimal core functionality, but the flexibility to build whatever you want into your site.  I’m annoyed because I was expecting to download a CMS that I could play around with and there is just not that much there.  Still, evaluating SilverStripe in those terms seems to be unfair.  It is meant to be a flexible base and not everything that I want.  The stripped down back end would likely be seen as a positive thing to users who only want to manage content.  The developers can concentrate on building the complex functionality for the site.

Since I have more than one evaluation done at this point, I think it’s fair to start making comparisons.  When I look at both SilverStripe and MODx, I see two very similar applications.  Both are closer to frameworks than out-of-the-box CMS applications.  Both are flexible.  Both provide a simple and intuitive interface to use.  That said, I think I like MODx a bit better (based on a minimal evaluation of both, mind you.)  While I was initially confused by some of the MODx terminology (chunk, snippet, etc.), I began to warm to it more as I delved further into the documentation.  I’m interested in trying to extend MODx a bit because I’m interested in playing around a bit with its modular framework.  To extend SilverStripe seems more like straight forward PHP coding.

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Evaluating MODx

This is my second post evaluating applications that were nominated for Packt Publishing Open Source CMS AwardsYesterday, I tried to evaluate DotNetNuke and I was stymied by their web site. I’ve since received advice from many in the DotNetNuke community, so I will return to evaluating it when I have finished with the rest of the nominees.  Today, I’m looking at MODx.

To start, let me say that I was able to go to the MODx website and download the code fairly easily.  I was asked to register, but it didn’t seem like registration was required.  I then turned to their documentation for installation instructions.  The instructions were what I would have expected for a PHP system and, since I’ve set up applications in a LAMP environment before, I probably could have set it up without reading the documentation.  Unzip the application to a public web directory.  Navigate to it with your web browser.  Follow the on screen instructions (with a caveat that you will need to have a MySQL database set up for the application to use.)  All of this works with no problem.

I decide to install the sample site, since I figure that this will help me with my evaluation.  I then log in with my admin user and start kicking around the site.  The first thing that I notice is that MODx allows you to add and edit content from the front end.  This is always a nice feature that I’m surprised doesn’t show up in more CMSes.  The second thing that I notice is that there appears to be only one content type which serves the dual purpose of page and blog post.  This is not really problematic as additional content types might be included in add-on products.  However, I am curious as to how I can upload images or other files.  I decide to poke around the back end.

MODx site are made up of elements which include templates, template variables, chunks (blocks of HTML), snippets (blocks of PHP code), and plugins.  Snippets can be called in chunks, template, or a document itself.  Blocks can be called in a template or a document.  Templates can be applied to documents.  At this point, I’m beginning to understand the story of MODx.  MODx allows you to build a website by assembling a collection of modular pieces that can be easily created and modified.  MODx prides itself in not restricting you in any way.  It’s an application framework more than a CMS.  The upside of this is that you are offered a lot of flexibility.  The downside is that you have to do a little bit more work to get started with MODx.  This is mitigated by the fact that MODx makes development easy, but you still won’t get very much from it out of the box.  For example, the only way that I have found to upload files is the file manager which lets you browse the directory structure on your server and upload files wherever you want them.  This is fine, but it’s not the user-friendliest implementation.  A quick look at the extras on the website reveals that there are add-on products for picture galleries that make this task easier.  This seems to be what is expected if you want more than basic functionality from MODx: either find an add-on module or build one yourself.

Whether you will like MODx or not comes down to whether or not you like its flexibility.  If you are intrigued by the idea of building and assembling modular web site pieces, you will probably think that MODx is pretty cool.  If not, you will probably hate it.  Like most applications, it lives or dies by the feature that sets it apart from the pack.  For myself, I actually do think that it’s pretty cool.  I would be interested in playing around with it but, right now, I’m not sure if I would use it for a web site project.

Next up, SilverStripe.  Though, if their web site does not come back up before tomorrow, I may go straight to WordPress.

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Evaluating DotNetNuke

The first question I need to answer is why I’m evaluating DotNetNuke in the first place.  Today, Packt Publishing announced their nominees for the 2009 Open Source CMS Awards.  Of the five nominees for Best Overall Open Source CMS, WordPress was the only one with which I was familiar.  Drupal and Joomla! now have their own “Hall of Fame” categories.  Plone get’s a nomination only in the Best Other Open Source category.

Believing that it is quite possible that others know more than I do about such things, after all I am in my own little Plone world to some degree, I decided to do a personal evaluation of each of the nominees, starting with DotNetNuke, one of the nominees for Best Overall Open Source CMS.

I began my evaluation by going to the DotNetNuke web site to download the software, only to learn that the site does not behave well in Firefox 3.5.  It looked like this:

site-brokenNeedless to say, this was an inauspicious start for software that is used to build web sites.   Fortunately, I still have Firefox 3.0 on my computer, so I fired it up and the site looked fine.  I then clicked the link to download the software and I was told that I would need to register first.  This was annoying, but I decided that I would register so that I could give the software a fair evaluation.  I created a user for myself on the site and got the following message:

smtp-errorIn case you can’t read that, it says, “There was an error sending confirmation emails – There is a problem with the configuration of your SMTP Server.  Mail was not sent.. However, your account was created successfully.”  By this point, DotNetNuke has failed the first impression test.  It could be the best CMS in the world, and I would probably only give it a C.  But look, absurdly enough, I have a user.  I might as well at least download the software.

The site tells me that beginners looking to evaluate the software should download the “install package.”  This seems like the option for me.  I click a link that will give me install instructions.  What I find instead is a form asking me for additional information, including whether or not I want a sales representative contacting me.  When I fill out the form, I will be emailed instructions for installation and a link to the software.  At this point I give up, because I know what’s going to happen when I fill out that form.  I’m going to get an error message telling me that the email could not be sent.  Thanks but no thanks.  My evaluation of DotNetNuke is over.

I feel a little bit bad that I never took a look at the software.  However, this is an award for an Open Source CMS.  I think “ease of downloading the software” is an important criterion and, if an applications score for that criterion is “impossible”, consideration for that application is rightly ended.  I know that it seems like just another snarky review for a competing project, but I really did set out to evaluate DotNetNuke fairly.

So, one review down.  And in less time than I was anticipating.  Next up, MODx.

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