Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Top spot on Javalobby ... and their newsletter

Javalobby has pinned a discussion about Magnolia powering their network as the top news item on their homepage, and in addition we were the top feature of their weekly newsletter. Needless to say, we are very happy about that. (Thanks Rick and Matt!).

Matt, Rick and I first talked about Magnolia powering their network of sites maybe 1.5 years ago. Back then, Javalobby decided it was to early to replace their custom software with a standard CMS like Magnolia. Since then, Magnolia has steadily improved, and JSR170 is much more on people´s minds than even one year ago.

We (Greg, me, Rick & Matt) had a two hour session today where we discussed the major requirements for their new infrastructure, which Magnolia can easily fulfil. Also Rick played around with their installation of the Enterprise Edition and enjoyed Magnolia´s ease-of-use.

I am excited about the fact that the best Java Community site likes what we do. Its up to them to see if Magnolia makes their lives easier or not - as stated in my last post, everybody in the CMS space has different needs. And replacing an existing system is always a major undertaking - to let go of all you have built yourself, to be at the mercy of something prefabricated - is usually difficult for any developer. But in the long run its inevitable.

By the way, this is just as true for Magnolia itself. We constantly discuss replacing parts of our product with new stuff that has been created by other projects. Its a lot of work, but it has significant benefits once its accomplished. For one, know-how of the product is not in the head of the one or two persons that developed it. And it might even be documented! In any way, its less work to maintain, and allows us to focus on the parts where we can add value.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Promises and products

If you work in a CMS area, you know that there are more than 1000 CMSs out there. Most of them are more or less irrelevant, some are hugely popular (for instance, Typo3 is huge in Germany), some are very very powerful, and each one has its own set of pros and cons.

No system can reasonably fulfil all client's requirements and still be usable. Each client has different content management requirements. One of the reasons we developed Magnolia is that larger projects always need customization or integration. We thought that making these really easy to do and maintain, this could be a significant advantage for Magnolia (which it is).

So if you look at selecting a new ECM and are looking in the domain JSR-170/open-source, you will naturally have to make a choice between the two dominant players in that space: us - and them. We get asked about the differences between Alfresco (them) and Magnolia (us) about once a day by a prospective client. I have never answered these, but a recent posting on Javalobby made me reply along the following lines:

  • On the surface both "support" JSR 170. Magnolia is build on the API, whereas A. has added support for that API at a late stage. A. locks you into their repository, while Magnolia is repository independent. Since your data is where the value sits, that's a pretty effective lock in. Magnolia runs with any repository out there: Jackrabbit, CRX, Exo(?), soon Oracle and any new compliant repository. You have the choice.
  • A. is coming from a DMS end, only now adding support for CMS. DMS and CMS are not integrated in any way. Magnolia is coming from the CMS end, where it shines. Its DMS and CMS are integrated seamlessly.
  • God is in the details, and paper is no substitute for a product. Magnolia has been in the works for more than 3.5 years now, and our interest was always to build the easiest to use CMS in the world. Our clients tell us that working with Magnolia is highly intuitive and easy. I doubt that anybody would say that about A´s GUI (we have hear that system integrators simply replace their GUI with something usable, which obviously would be driving up TCO considerably)
  • Magnolia ships with Sitedesigner, a tool that replaces client-side web development software like Dreamweaver or Golive. This is much more useful than it initially sounds - you have to do a project with it to realize just how amazing it is to work this way. It saves massive amounts of time, layout is versioned (!), and updates work without worries (because we guarantee that).
  • Magnolia ships with the only opensource cross-language business process engine on the planet: OpenWFE. Its one of the top ten projects on Sourceforge regularly, and is amazing in its flexibility and power. If you want to integrate your business with your web initiatives, and send workitems ("tasks") to agents written in python, java, perl, dotnet etc that's what you can do. A. on the other hand uses something much less flexible and powerful.
  • A. was founded with a big pile of cash and massive promises to clients and shareholders alike. They have to deliver, and the way its done is by spending on marketing and sales. Magnolia on the other hand has been an organic development. No piles of cash to spend on anything, really. Just trying to create the best CMS in the world with a couple of smart brains and lots of experience.
A. is very successful at the moment selling promises. Magnolia is very successful at the moment selling products. Choose, but choose wisely.

(This is my personal view, and reflects in no way the view of my company)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Magnolia EE out - and Javalobby in?

Its been a long while since my last post, and if you look at magnolia.info, you know why. We have managed to release Magnolia® 3.0 Enterprise Edition on November 15th, exactly three years after our first public release, together with the final release of Magnolia Community Edition and the first public release of Sitedesigner™, a tool to layout sites directly in the browser.

We have worked on Sitedesigner for more than a year. As they say: grass won't grow faster if you pull on it. Some things need time, and if we look back on what we had 6 months ago, we know why Sitdesigner needed that time. We have gone through endless tests and iterations and refinements to make Sitedesigner outstanding. It shows. The attention to details is what makes Sitedesigner a pleasure to work with. Try it.

Javalobby does already like the new Magnolia: There is an ongoing discussion if Magnolia would be a good foundation for their next generation community site. Join it!