Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Back into the world of Plone

So in my current job much of my focus is in designing, developing and using MS Sharepoint as a collaborative knowledge management/community workspace and e-Learning platform. I do however have some issues with this. Not that this is a bad technology, but there are some annoyances and my own leanings are towards open source solutions as apposed to the MS model and their goals to take over the world through vendor lock-in.

However, in considering the role of the L.V. patterns as ways to design effective, life-affirming community applications I'm constantly being brought out of the Sharepoint paradigm and back into the world of open source by way of Plone and Drupal, two awesome projects that never cease to amaze me.

Having worked with Plone for almost 2 years now as a content creator, site manager, and eventually as designer and component developer, I find myself asking questions about the usage of patterns and pattern languages for effective community information systems in terms of harnessing Plone (or Drupal depending on the user reqs.). For one it is open source and most community groups don't have the funds to dish out the money for Sharepoint technologies, nor the funds necessary to run these systems once the licenses are purchased.

Understanding these limitations I think of Plone and Drupal as being more realistic test-beds for extending the CMS and community information systems ideal through use of L.V. patterns.

So as fate would have it I had a conversation with Yishay in London about the idea of developing modules for Plone and Drupal for a project we are putting together. He was in total agreement with the idea. In fact, it looks as if we can dove-tail nicely as he intends to focus on Drupal and I will work with Plone in order to ensure that we can meet as many users as possible through our work.

So as one would guess, I have been cracking away trying to get acquainted with the new Plone 3.0.1 release, and I must say, I am impressed! Great changes, fast user-friendly. I mean it is still difficult in some aspects but from the standpoint of building and deploying systems for people with minimal technical skills, the new Plone version appears to be a hit.

With that in mind I'm going to do my best to stay focused in further developing using this platform. By focusing on extending these two applications it’s my hope to 1.) Not re-invent the wheel (like many programmers, I'm lazy), 2.) Can use the proven successes of these technologies, and 3.) We can provide useful tools to an already large user base.

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