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Posts Tagged ‘opensource’

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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NTEN’s National Technology Conference 2011 is gearing up for another robust showcase of all things tech in the nonprofit world. NTC 2011 will take place in Washington D.C. on March 17-19, 2011 and as always, will feature sessions from tech companies and organizations throughout the country who are chosen by you! It’s voting time again, and we would love for your support in the following sessions we proposed. We’re on a quest to share our knowledge and this is a great venue to reach many people and our session proposals for NTC range from strategy to innovations to downright fun!   Below are the sessions we have submitted. By following the link you will be able to give the session a ranking. More high ranks = more chance that it gets accepted!

  • Salesforce + CMS Integration Showdown: Plone, Drupal, and Joomla- With the rapid increase in Salesforce use by nonprofit organizations, integration has become vital. One question we often get is – what website tools integrate best with Salesforce? We’ve decided to bare all in a battle of the most common nonprofit Content Management Systems. We’ll feature the open source tools Plone, Drupal, and Joomla in a rapid-paced, information packed session to help you decide! It will be fun, exciting and concise!
  • Unleash Your Fundraising Potential: Marketing Automation for Nonprofits Is your fundraising success limited by the number of touches you can have with each potential donor? Learn to cultivate relationships to a transaction with marketing. Marketing automation is a way to convert more people to donors that can effectively grow your staff’s capacity (without adding to head count) while increasing your effectiveness. In this session we will introduce the importance of integrating marketing and fundraising and show how you can use marketing automation.
  • 25 Ways to Improve Your Communications Capacity.
    The shear quantity and frequency of communications that most organization seek to produce has increased dramatically. Whether its blogs, tweets, commenting, web site updates, collaborations, cross posting, press releases, or good old print brochures. To stay abreast your organization needs to maximize its capacity for communication. At a time when there is no way you are hiring additional staff, that means making the staff you have as efficient and effective as possible. This session introduces 25 ways to use your existing resources to make the most of your communications.
    Implementing new technology project is always a process of organizational change. But it doesn’t have to be painful! You can take the opportunity to improve your strategy and operations while increasing your teams capacity for learning and adaptation. This session will cover how to approach a technology project with the impact on the organization in mind, how to develop requirements in an inclusive way, and how to manage change within your organization as you implement the system.

Show your support by giving your voting for your favorite sessions!

If you have suggestions for other topics you’d like us to share on, please leave a comment!

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I’m at the CMSExpo event in Chicago, IL where over 300 people have gathered to discuss the state of the art in web content publishing and interactivity. I’m looking forward to the next couple of days hanging out with other open source community leaders as we share, train, and debate!

I’m giving a talk later today (1:30pm central) on Plone add-on products. As the talk is done, I wanted to push it out. The idea is to introduce new Plone users to products they can leverage for their website. One key area of interest from last year is the Plone-to-CRM (client relationship management) integration, so I’ve added a section demo’ing the simple parts web-to-salesforce integrations. The audience seems to have some experienced Plone people also, so I also mention (on just one slide) some developer tools.

I’ll check back for any feedback before I give the talk, so please add any comments!

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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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February will heating up in Atlanta! Not only will it be lots warmer than the Northeast and Midwest…we’ve got PyCon 2010 (the annual Python programming language conference) converging here. We hope to have you here! Today is the last day for early bird registration, so get on with it here.

Ok, if you’re still reading you need some more convincing, so here’s why you should care:

PyCon is where the thought leaders, community organizers, product developers, and enterprises using Python come together for an intense period of learning, exchange, and collaboration. In particular, we have:

This is a great chance to learn from others, gain new skills, and find out the coolest topics in open source! Have a look at the extensive sessions list (I’ll be giving 2 Plone-related talks, one on ecommerce and one on salesforce integration), check out a tutorial and consider staying a few extra days to sprint!

Then go register! Remember, Jan 6 is the last day for early bird! Save some $$ and get on with it already!

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ifPeople is honored to be a nominee for the YouTopia grant of $15,000 of branding services from Free Range Studios. To win this, we need your vote! Can you please take 3 minutes to register on the website and vote for our “Collaboration for Social Innovation” idea?

Our idea is to build a community of social innovators leveraging web technology to increase their impact. This community, which is already forming based on the work of our clients and our partners, will share lessons, exchange ideas, and collaborate. This community would include other partners and their clients who share the desire to build strategic and technology capacity in the sector.

We’re asking for your help in making this nascent community grow and thrive by supporting our YouTopia proposal! Why do we want to do this? Technology is a big challenge for most social enterprises, yet it’s also necessary for magnifying their impact.We use Plone and Salesforce.com to radically increase our clients capacity for communication, engagement and action. We believe this network will improve collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst organizations using similar tools and facing similar challenges.

Better Tech skills = Bigger Impact = A Better World

Voting is easy. You just need to create an account on the UserVoice website and then you can distribute 3 votes in the “Socially Responsible Business” category (you can give all three to one or distribute them). Vote for ifPeople here.

Please let us know any questions about the proposal in the comments. Thanks for your support!

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