Reflecting on SharePoint vs. Alfresco article

I finally got a chance to read CMS Wire's article, SharePoint vs Alfresco: A Platform Perspective. Nothing too surprising in the article as it shows that both SharePoint and Alfresco can stand on their own.

While we believe the comparison was fair, we also agree that there's more to SharePoint than immediately meets the eye. By the same token, there's more to Alfresco than just Share, much of which we eluded to in the article.

Is it worth it to look at a side-by-side view of SharePoint and Alfresco from a platform perspective? Is it possible that one is significantly better than the other? Maybe, but the answer you get may not be the one you expected.

The above article isn't going to persuade an enterprise to move from SharePoint to Alfresco or vice versa. However, if you're trying to decide whether to introduce SharePoint or Alfresco to your organization this article could have some value. I especially enjoyed the comment made after the article by Peter Morel. Mr. Morel discusses a couple complaints I hear often about SharePoint:

  • It forced us to be 100% Microsoft compliant (and many subs already chose Linux and Open Office)
  • It was VERY expensive (Each client must pay a CAL (Client Access License)

However, in his comments he also discusses some of the design issues with SharePoint.

  • We had to maintain 2 sets of documents:
    • the ones on Shared disks to be accessed by standard tools
    • the ones in SharePoint and NOT accessible by standard tools as SharePoints store them in an MS SQL Database
  • One of our subsidiary stores VERY LONG technical files which cannot be entered in Sharepoint. We suspect due to a limit of size of BLOBs.
  • We have to keep international versions (at least 7 languages) of the documents. SharePoint does not offer any tool for that
  • We found that changing the structure of meta-data AFTER installation if a REAL MESS and this is a topic where changes count ...

Mr. Morel then goes on to talk about how Alfresco solved many of these issues that SharePoint apparantly could not. So for those of you that were finally settling on SharePoint over Alfresco, I bet this brings at least some pause before implementing that SharePoint solution.  I know people in my own organization are finding it difficult to be  enthusiastic when it comes to committing to a SharePoint solution and worry about vendor lock-in.

Expect significant usability improvements in Drupal 7

When I recommend to someone that they should use Drupal for a project it is not uncommon for them to question my wisdom on the subject. Those new to Drupal are often shocked by Drupal's initial learning curve, no rich text editor in the core, and a user interface with a longer workflow than it really should be. As powerful and functional as Drupal can be it historically has had usability issues.

Luckily, Drupal's developers have recognized these usability issues and over the past couple years have made great effort to group together and improve Drupal's user interface. In fact, last year I was able to meet a few of the developers in one of Drupal's first usability exercises. The Drupal community is serious about improving Drupal for Drupal's non-tech users. In the past year, Drupal developers have focused improving the Drupal user experience and roll those improvements into Drupal 7.

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Charging for online news doomed to fail

There has been a lot of articles written lately on Rupert Murdoch's latest comments regarding the need to charge online readers for the content they access to the business model The Wall Street Journal utilizes. Murdoch recently announced that additional News Corp's newspapers would be charging users access to their online content.

Speaking on a conference call as News Corporation announced a 47 percent slide in quarterly profits to $755 million, Murdoch said the current free access business model favored by most content providers was flawed.

"We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning," the News Corp. Chairman and CEO said.

"We have been at the forefront of that debate and you can confidently presume that we are leading the way in finding a model that maximizes revenues in return for our shareholders... The current days of the Internet will soon be over."

That pay for content business model that Murdoch wishes to spread to the the rest of the News Corp holdings has worked pretty well for the WSJ. Yearly subscription to WSJ.com is around $100 and the business news site recently introduced a cheaper micro-payment system. Deane Barker recently pointed out this story on his Gadgetopia blog. Barker points out that this business model could possibly work for additional online news sources, but Murdoch needs "another big player on the bandwagon, and he might kick the snowball off the hill. Gannet? New York Times Company?". Barker's point is that for News Corp's subscription model to work, access to news content needs to be limited at other places online too. In my opinion, a fight against free online content is a war that has already been lost.

As a subscriber to the WSJ in both print and online content, I do see paid online subscriptions working for niche news sites. I however have serious doubts that the model can work for general news. People are willing to pay and only pay for content they can get nowhere else online. The news articles found in the WSJ is unique content and since its also content of value, I'm willing to pay for it. However, reporting general news is a much different game. Even if the majority of newspapers started charging access to their content it only takes one newspaper willing to offer that same story for free to break the pay for access model.

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Mailbag: Platformic Version 3.0

I received an email the other day from Hilary McCarthy promoting Platformic.  Platformic is an online Web CMS or what her company likes to call an Online Web Develop Environment.  As usual, I'll let the email do most of the talking in this post.

Hi, I wanted to make sure that you saw that Platformic is announcing version 3.0 of its enterprise web development software, an end-to-end online web development environment and content management platform that allows businesses to quickly and easily build/update websites in real-time without sacrificing creativity or writing code (http://www.prweb.com/releases/platformic... ).

Looking at multitasking on the iPhone and Palm Pre

I'm one of the unfortunate souls that is a Verizon customer.  I'm unfortunate in the sense that my cell phone company has been very slow in bringing modern SmartPhones with full browser and Wifi capability under their service plans.  Oh how I would love to have an iPhone or G1 Android in my hand, but neither AT&T nor T-Mobile includes big 'ol South Dakota in their service plans.  But someday things may change and I might get the iPhone or possibly even better, the Palm Pre (we have Spring here!).

I've been extremely interested in the Palm Pre since Palm first made their product announcements earlier this year.  How well the Palm Pre can compete with the Apple iPhone is up in the air, but I'm hopeful.  Today, I really enjoyed this article at CNET, Can a Palm Pre multitask better than an iPhone?

Ever since its January coming-out party at the Consumer Electronics Show, Palm has generated buzz for the Pre unlike any other phone released since Apple's iPhone arrived in June 2007 (that includes impressive phones such as Research in Motion's BlackBerry Bold and HTC's G1 Android phone.) The two phones will be forever compared--not just because of their consumer-oriented styles and emphasis on gesture-based user interfaces, but because of the very real enmity between the proud team that worked on Apple's historic iPhone breakthrough and the ex-Apple executives and engineers attempting to rebuild Palm.

While the iPhone has set the standard for future smartphones, Palm's WebOS delivers two important improvements that the iPhone can't yet match: true multitasking between applications, and a subtle notifications system that doesn't interrupt your train of thought. It does that while unveiling its own stamp on the multitouch user interface that Apple introduced to the masses with the iPhone and finding room for a slide-out hardware keyboard favored by CrackBerry addicts.

Be sure to read the rest of the article. Perhaps, someday Verizon will get smart and get into the game.  Meanwhile, I'll be weighing my options.

SilverStripe launches Global Partner Program

There are reasons why I have been mentioning SilverStripe quite a bit here at CMS Report. In case you haven't noticed, the New Zealand based company has been making a lot of effort this year to expand their global reach.  Recently, SilverStripe put Sigurd Magnusson, their Sales and Marketing Director, on a sort of world tour to let everyone know more about the open source SilverStripe CMS. This week the latest news from the company is the launch of their Global Partner Program.

SilverStripe has today significantly expanded its global reach. From today, its corporate headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand, is complemented by partnerships with established companies in 8 locations throughout the US, UK, Europe, and Australia.

The Partner Program gives customers access to professional SilverStripe skills and knowledge across the globe. Today's milestone will allow businesses around the world to get local professional SilverStripe support and services. Additionally, the Partner Program will accelerate market adoption and awareness of SilverStripe globally.

Customers across the world can now visit http://silverstripe.com/partners to find a local SilverStripe partner who can help implement their SilverStripe solution.

For a couple weeks, I've been aware that SilverStripe was about to announce the launch of their partner program. The goal of the partner program is to help expand support and enthusiasm for the SilverStripe CMS. I was asked to say something nice about the CMS in their press release announcing the partner program.

Features to expect in Geeklog 1.6

Geeklog, an open source blogging application, just went into its first beta. This release incorporates some of the work done in projects implemented during the 2008 Google Summer of Code.

New features and improvement you can expect in Geeklog 1.6.0 Beta 1 include:

  • Site migration support and easier plugin installation, by Matt West
  • Improved search, by Sami Barakat
  • Comment moderation and editable comments, by Jared Wenerd
  • A new plugin to produce proper sitemap.xml files, by mystral-kk
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements

The Geeklog beta is available for download at the projects official site.

WhiteHouse 2.0

There has been a huge transformation this year at WhiteHouse.gov. Blogs, RSS feeds, and connections to social networking sites are being fully utilized at the President's website. Those of us that have worked in information technology positions for the federal government have experienced first hand just how slow bureaucracies can be in taking advantage of newer technologies. From my perspective, it is almost surreal to see references to Web 2.0 from a website for an office that once didn't allow the President of the United States to send emails or even use a smart phone.

Let's hope the President's views on content management and social publishing trickles down to the rest of the Executive branch.

WhiteHouse 2.0

In the President’s last Weekly Address, he called on government to "recognize that we cannot meet the challenges of today with old habits and stale thinking." He added that "we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative," and pledged to "reach beyond the halls of government" to engage the public. Today the White House is taking steps to expand how the Administration is communicating with the public, including the latest information and guidance about the H1N1 virus. In addition to WhiteHouse.gov, you can now find us in a number of other spots on the web:

The WhiteHouse blog (RSS) will power a lot of the content in these networks, but we’re looking forward to hearing from our fans, friends and followers. Don’t forget these sites as well:

Technology has profoundly impacted how – and where – we all consume information and communicate with one another. WhiteHouse.gov is an important part of the Administration’s effort to use the internet to reach the public quickly and effectively – but it isn’t the only place.

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