opensource

A few years ago companies could get by with a static website, that is, one that housed the same information from day to day. That approach no longer works. Site visitors expect up-to-date news and as we explained in an earlier post, Google preferentially indexes sites with fresh content. Websites need to be dynamic, which in practical terms means they need to employ a content management system (CMS) of some sort.

A CMS makes it easier for non-technical personnel to add content to the site. But also significant are the functionalities they provide like site indexing, search, analytics, workflow management, social media connections as well as integration with inbound marketing and customer relationship management software. These functionalities are largely hidden to the casual site visitor but they are required to make a site effective.

There are many CMS systems to choose from and all the best ones happen to be “open-source.” Why open-source?

To understand the benefits of open-source it is instructive to understand what it means:

  • The program must be freely distributed.
  • The source code must be included.
  • Anyone must be allowed to modify the source code.
  • Modified versions can be redistributed.
  • The license must not require the exclusion of other software or interfere with the operation of other software.

The source code and licensing behind many websites can be found by right-clicking in a browser and then clicking “view source.”  Many open source scripts built or provided by Google and other large technology corporations contain licensing similar to the following:

/*
 * jQuery JavaScript Library v1.3.2
 * http://jquery.com/
 *
 * Copyright (c) 2009 John Resig
 * Dual licensed under the MIT and GPL licenses.
 * http://docs.jquery.com/License
 *
 * Date: 2009-02-19 17:34:21 -0500 (Thu, 19 Feb 2009)
 * Revision: 6246
 */

 

Since open source coding is freely redistributed, communities of developers support them and make the code more robust and extend the system’s functionality. WordPress, Drupal and Joomla  have large communities of developers who provide instructions on how to implement each system and create new templates and plug-ins of various sorts that extend the systems’ functionality.

The above systems employ an easy to use programming language called PHP. Another system, less well known in North America is Plone, that is written in the same language used by Google, Python. How secure is Plone and Python? Secure enough to be used by the FBI, the CIA and NASA for their websites.

The open-source communities now make it possible to build entire web development projects by finding the necessary components simply by typing questions in Google. They also make it easy to hire specialists to implement any kind of web functionality.

 

plone community at Plone Konferenz Munich, March 2nd 2012

Participants of Plone Konferenz Munich, March 2nd 2012

They hold conferences around the world to discuss business through the lens of a given content management system. This past week, Plone held a conference in Munich for discussion about the system, business, and community building. Take a look to see their commitment and the sophistication of the participants’ contributions.

These communities of developers are like having a dedicated staff of developers working on improving the security, infrastructure and capabilities of all websites that employ their system.

The internet and digital communications are constantly evolving. Website owners who use an appropriate content management system benefit from the community of programmers who are constantly adding new functionalities that do great things for little cost.