Posts Tagged ‘open-source’

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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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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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As many of you are aware, the highly anticipated NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference is being held April 8 – 10. 2009, in Atlanta, home of ifPeople HQ.

To engage the nonprofit community, NTEN has made all session proposals public and has invited people like you to vote on your favorites. This is a great opportunity to let your voice be heard and help influence what’s going to be an informative and inspiring conference for non-profits and consultants alike.

ifPeople has proposed several sessions. Click on the links below to read more what we’re proposing — and don’t forget to vote as well!

An Open Civic Engagement Platform: Empowering Nonprofit Communications with Mature Stable Solutions

An Open Source Approach to Collaboration: Sustainable, Inner-Organizational Collaboration

25 Ways to Increase Your Org’s Communication Capacity: Accomplishing More Without More Staff

Or get a full listing of all the proposals and vote on your favorites.

Hurry! Voting ends this Friday.

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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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The report aims to help nonprofits make decisions on open source CMSs, buidealware-cms-comparisont would be useful to anyone evaluating a content management system. Idealware, who provides objective information on software for nonprofits, has released a new version of its report comparing Plone, Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. This report is more detailed than ever and encompasses 60+ pages of content and contains a consultant directory to help nonprofits find service providers. We at ifPeople work in the Plone CMS though also serve clients with consulting that does not depend on the platform being used.

Get the report:

Comparing Open Source Content Management Systems: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Plone

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We are very excited to announce that our session on open source as a model of collaboration got accepted to one of the premier conferences on systems thinking in action! We decided to go to our core experience and crafted a really solid session that Tirza and I are very excited about. It builds on our work in open source communities, and especially the Social Sourcing approach we pioneered. The work on this talk will kick off a series of articles later this spring and summer, including the “principles of open source communities” (can’t believe I couldn’t really find something good out there on this already!) and more on the social sourcing model in action.

Here’s some more on the session as we proposed it. Working title: “Open Source Your Collaboration: Save Money, Increase Engagement, Build Community”

Description: The model of Open Source software offers lessons for those organizations seeking to cross institutional boundaries for genuine collaboration towards shared goals. We will review the tools, techniques and cultural norms of sustainable communities, highlight where these may challenge entrenched mental models and habits of organizations. We will show how to create shared ownership and foster continuous listening within a diverse collaboration. We also offer a straight-forward approach for those wishing to lead or facilitate collaborative projects. The presenters will speak from their experience in Open Source projects over the last 9 years, as well as from their experience extending this model to non-software projects.

Learning goals:

  • Understand Open Source software projects as a form of distributed, self-sustaining collaboration.
  • Learn the Social Sourcing process for leading projects based on a collaborative design process that engages participants and creates shared ownership of the outcome.
  • Identify where open collaboration models can potentially clash with existing mental models and organizational culture.
  • Take home tools and techniques for ensuring the needs of members are continuously heard and responded to in their work to build sustainable collaboration.

If you’re interested to check out more on the topic, see the Pegasus Communications website for the conference. Hopefully we’ll see you in Seattle in November!

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I attended my first Atlanta Python user group’s meeting (PyAtl) this month (see the meeting announcement). I have a regular conflict on Thursday evenings (soccer:), but made this one to give a talk on Plone. Our local Atlanta Plone users group has merged with PyAtl and serves as a Special Interest Group now.

Brandon Rhodes opened the session with a discussion of search trends, using Google Trends, and left us with a question: why isn’t Python and Plone going up in the trend lines? That framed my talk nicely, as I got to share my enthusiasm for Plone, which I believe if more people knew about certainly would be trending up! I gave a talk to help those there learn more about Plone, an intro and answering some questions about why people choose Plone. To my surprise, several people there had prior Plone experience, but not recent work. So it was like re-chosing Plone…they recalled things like dtml and lots of through-the-web editing and other pain, so I think I played the role of dusting off the memories and filling in some details about where Plone has gotten to now. In particular, the fact that it is easy to install, uses extensive Zope 3 and the community has adopted best practices in development widely, that there is lots of documentation (and books), and that the community rocks!

I didn’t do any demos or code stuff, just introducing why we should care about Plone…hopefully that will be the subject of our future contributions at PyAtl meetings!

The presentation videos are now up on the PyAtl site, though the sound is quite low. I will be posting my slides as soon as I get a chance to clean them up a bit…but they were based heavily on Jon Stahl’s slides, the World Plone Day slides, and bits and pieces from Roberto Allende and Nate Aune’s presentations too :). See Plone Evangelist hq for more of those.

Also, as part of our merger to into PyAtl, note that we now have domains atlantaplone.com and atlantaplone.net working! (please note that the .org address has been lost to domain hell).

My first meeting certainly was fun (and I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Holden’s talk on Python community…more on that in a later post), so I hope to be back soon!

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