Coming at us like a bunch of #$@^% Belgians*

(* Quote from an episode of “Rome” intended to show respect for Belgian’s fierceness in battle.)

Here’s the last of the OSCMS round-up:

  • I ran into a bunch of fun – and really damn smart – Belgians at the conference. No surprise, since Drupal founder Dries is Belgian, and so is uber-Drupal-geek Stee Wittens.
  • Despite the European connection, though, apparently Drupal is far more popular in the U.S. than in Europe. (DrupalFrance confirms this – link in French). Also, someone commented during the internationalization presentation that Plone has had more built-in multi-language support in core than Drupal – something the I18n folks are trying to convince the What-gets-into-core gatekeepers to include in Drupal 6 (or at least Drupal 7).
  • Speaking of languages (ouch….) the I18n / localization implementations in the U.S primarily focus on primary language sites with a set of translated pages (think an English site with some Spanish about and help pages) – at least, that’s been the bulk of my experience seeing what Drupalers have done. What will really drive the Drupal’s adoption in other parts of the world – in my opinion, and I think this is what the I18n folks were expressing too – is a more robust solution for fully bi-, tri- and multi-lingual sites (for a driver of this kind of development, think of Belgium’s requirement to have all official docs published in French and Flemmish…. And what about Switzerland? Catalonia? ). There are some subtle problems involved here that are too complicated to get into in this brief note – but check into the I18n forum if you’re interested.
  • Future of Drupal – It was a long set-up, but the punch line was that Drupal could eventually make website developers obsolete. Well, uh, maybe – the CCK, views and panels modules are pretty nifty, but this also belies the misperception in the open source world that this kind of stuff is “easy” for anyone, and if you have problem, just fire up your chat app and hit up #Drupal at Freenode. And for the rest of us that go “Huh?” (And for the rest of us whose job is *not* technology?) I’ve worked in the nonprofit world for 10 years – the nonprofit *tech* world – and am now in the independent school world. People don’t want to spend their time learning how to build a website, even if the tool is fairly easy to learn and even easier to use, and may never require a line of code. It’s just not their job – their job is teaching, or feeding the hungry, or advocating for the environment. Every mechanic will tell you that maintaining your own car is easy – heck, maintaining your bike is easy…. But we still need -nay, we still demand car (and bike) mechanics. Because in the end it’s another skill set we don’t want to learn. So I don’t think Drupal will kill off web site developers like Amazon killed off bookstores (a snarky example of Internet change as described by Dries), but it will sure kill of proprietary CMS companies, and the secondary industries that have sprung up around them (see WebEx, SharePoint, and maybe even Raiser’sEdge down the road?)
  • The PHP bugaboo – there was a flare-up over when Drupal would drop support for PHP 4. Dries (of Drupal) and Rasmus (of PHP) essentially pointed fingers at each other. Wel, Dries pointed fingers at ISPs, who all need to upgrade; and I kinda agree with him. But Rasmus’ point was that the economic driver was actual Drupal users – there are a helluva lot more Drupal users and websites thatn there are ISPs, and if Drupal demanded the change, others would follow. I know there’s more to the PHP argument than that – but for me the kicker is… Drupal is now a political force that can drive Internet change (and already has to a certain extent).
  • Alfresco – an open-source CMS I had never heard of, and then someone nonchalantly tells me it’s being adopted by a bunch of Wall Street firms. I was a floored (and worried I had put my money in the Drupal camp, and all the people with money had put their feet in the Alfresco camp). The best short (and slightly deriding) description I heard was “It’s just an archiving system.” True, it’s a really powerful, open-source document archiving and retrieval system that has good (and enterprise level) support that is appropriate for universities and corporations that need a good system for managing documents. It’s not so great as a basic website, or a multi-funciton CMS. At least, that’s what I’ve gathered over the 48 hours after I first heard about it.

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3 Responses to “Coming at us like a bunch of #$@^% Belgians*”

  1. 1 Web developer April 4, 2007 at 7:05 am

    Yes drupal, plone etc are going to take over the world soon. The CMS industry is booming with ideas and solutions.

  2. 2 davo April 10, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    The folks behind Alfresco are ex-Documentum & ex-Interwoven. The Alfresco DM/collaboration solution is looking to be way slicker than anything out there. The WCM functionality has only just been recently released but it’s looking very promising as well. There’s asset versioning, sandboxing, virtualisation, time travel (you can move through site snapshots), XForms,workflow, etc. I have a feeling that it will compare favourably to Interwoven after a few more revisions.

  1. 1 WineCampFrance - a multilingual challenge « Goat at Large Trackback on April 13, 2007 at 11:03 pm
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