Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Time to switch your job. Work for Magnolia CMS!

Since 2006, Magnolia staff has been growing an average 50% per year. That means next year we'll likely hire up to 20 people for our three main locations Miami, Basel (Switzerland) and Kromeriz (Czech Republic). Hop over to our Magnolia CMS jobs section to see the current open position at all three locations.

So why would you want to work for Magnolia? For one thing, it is a truly international experience (it's even in our name: "Magnolia International Ltd."). It is a small but dynamic company that slowly but surely works its way towards its original goal of building the world's best content management system. Our high standards regarding the quality of what we deliver, not only in code but also in documentation and communication, start to be noticed. Today, 7% of the Global 100 Enterprises are Magnolia CMS customers. And we see this number rise.

But beyond our obvious success, and the fact that Magnolia's growth is entirely financed through  revenue, you will find that it is a unique culture that drives our success. We are a company that prides itself on its openness. We talk with our customers, with each other, with partners and the wider community about where we are at and where we want to go. We believe our strength is in focus and execution, not in secrecy or sales. With Magnolia, we hire great people and provide opportunity to develop yourself. We love to help you grow to your fullest potential, so if you find that you want to switch from one position to another, we are happy to help you make that transition.

With many other product-oriented companies your main task will be to provide services to clients. At Magnolia, we focus on product development. All projects are done by partners, not Magnolia. And we don't do body-leasing either. So you get to stay in the office and actually know the rest of the staff! Sometimes of course, we'll also send people to help clients with architecture consulting or training, as far away as Australia. So you get an ideal mix of getting out of the office occasionally and still having a sustainable lifestyle. About work-life balance: we don't work on weekends, nor long hours. Good for you, and your family.

On some days (like today), even Santa drops by!

So, time to check out the Magnolia CMS jobs section and apply! Looking forward to hear from you.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Next Magnolia Webinar: How Simply Business doubled their leads using Magnolia

Just a short note on our next webinar: Magnolia helped SimplyBusiness, the UK's leading insurance broker for small businesses, streamline their content management processes and create a more interactive, SEO and social media friendly Website. That alone might not be worth mentioning, were it not for the fact that they achieved a 135% increase in sales leads from this effort.

I can't promise you you'll be able to do the same just by watching our next webinar, but if you are interested in integrating Web content and online services, improving SEO and social media marketing and optimizing the content management processes, why not spend an hour and hear Jasper Martens, Social Media and Affiliate Manager at Simply Business explain how he achieved such an impressive feat.

This Webinar will take place on Dec 8 2011. You’ll find more information and a registration form for the Webinar on the Magnolia website.

BTW, if you are interested in presenting a Webinar on your successful Magnolia CMS project, let us know!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

How U.S. Navy uses the Spring Framework to sign up recruits

The Magnolia community has known that navy.com is powered by Magnolia (and the Java Spring framework from Springsource) at least since Matt Dertinger of Campbell Ewald has given his talk at the Magnolia Conference 2010. But now we are upping the ante by providing you with a webinar featuring no less than Tobias Mattson, the core developer of Magnolia's Spring integration, together with Sean McMains, Magnolia Sales Engineer, and Matt Dertinger, who works on the various U.S. Navy websites.

The Spring framework is used by many of Magnolia's customers to extend their products and services to the web. Their virtual presence such becomes a portal into their business, allowing website visitors to  directly interact with back-end systems like e.g. a booking engine.

The beauty of Blossom (Magnolia's Spring integration technology) is that Spring developers get to work from their point of view. In other words, they pretty much stay within Spring (and Java code) and need to know very little about Magnolia CMS.

I encourage you to join our Springsource webinar and learn how Campbell Ewald has used Magnolia's Blossom module, integrated Spring into Magnolia CMS, and improved the web experience for their visitors. By using Magnolia and Blossom, you can open up your business processes to the web without the pain and overhead of a portal infrastructure, and that prospect alone is certainly worth attending. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Just published: Are industry top level domains attractive?

Just published: a guest blog post by yours truly on the J.Boye website: "Are industry top level domains attractive?". I am exploring if the CMS industry should get their own top-level domain. Head over!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Open Source" a differentiator no more

There is an interesting discussion around a recent blog post by Matt Aslett of the 451 group. (they do churn out great articles, don't they?).

Matt notes that "Open Source" as a differentiator is being dropped by more and more commercial open source projects, and backs it up with some anecdotal evidence. This of course caught my interest, as I have been discussing this topic internally at least for the last two years… and we made the decision to change the communication, and currently work on defining a new tagline (away from "Simple Open Source Content Management").

So yes, the trend is clearly there. Open Source is neither a primary value proposition nor a primary differentiator (anymore, if it ever was). Simply put, just because software is open source doesn't mean it works for you.

You would not differentiate your product as "the closed source alternative to X", would you? So why the other way round?

As a product and business models mature, realities change. When Magnolia CMS started with an "Enterprise Open Source" business model in 2006, this model was in its absolute infancy. It worked for Red Hat, but that was about it. We regularly had to educate prospects about the viability of our business model, not always successfully so. (For those interested, Magnolia CMS has been growing 50% per year since 2006).

Today "vendor-driver Open Source" or "Commercial Open Source" or "Enterprise Open Source" have become mainstream. It has become clear that the oversight, direction and long-term view of a vendor has benefits for an Open-Source project, and for these benefits to materialize, a revenue stream that finances the product is essential. This in turn has lead to companies looking at Open Source no longer as "Free (of cost) Software" but as "Software with a lower TCO and higher flexibility".

Once you realize this change in customer perception, dropping open source as a differentiator or value proposition is only the logical next step.

For Magnolia CMS, this will mean we'll focus more on communicating primary business values to our customers.

Having a strong community to share your knowledge, ideas and gripes, as well as ask for or provide help will make a great difference in how enjoyable your daily work with a product like Magnolia CMS is. And sharing or learning from extensions that others provide certainly is a big part of an Open Source community.

Being able to understand and quickly adapt the code of a product that needs to be integrated and adapted to custom needs as much as a Content Management System does, is incredibly beneficial for any company.

But the fact that Magnolia's source code is open should be the deciding factor only once all other things are equal. In our daily interactions with customers we learned that for them, Magnolia is foremost a great product (and great company), and only then Open Source.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Magnolia CMS, Red Herring Award and entrepreneurship

When I first came across Red Herring, it must have been the late 90's or early in the new millennium, I thought this is a very interesting magazine. And when I saw companies being listed as a Red Herring 100 winner, I was hoping to one day be amongst them.

Fast forward to 2011, and Magnolia has reached that milestone. Will this change everything? Hardly. Earth will still rotate around the sun (unless you are a creationist, in which case it probably is the other way round); and all the world will not suddenly flock to Magnolia's website to try out our content management system.

But. And here is the "but": when you start out to build a business, you (hopefully) do so with a good reason (why are you doing this?) and dreams (what do you want to achieve?). And while your dream my be to write the best content management system on the planet, there are smaller, more tangible aspirations, which are often inspired by what you see elsewhere. The Red Herring award was such an aspiration, and that is why Magnolia (and myself) have reached another milestone.

For entrepreneurs, hitting such milestones is a confirmation that they are on the right track, that their aspirations can be fulfilled and their dreams eventually become reality.

For future entrepreneurs I hope you have your own dreams and aspirations, no matter how big or small, and that they too may come true for you.

And should the Red Herring Award be one of your aspirations, I encourage you to aim for it. Alex, founder of Red Herring, is certainly an interesting person to meet, modest but with great experience. He likes to give advise and simultaneously tells you that 90% of the advise anybody will give you is not going to help you. And meeting fellow entrepreneurs, people with ideas, ambitions, success or failure under their belt, certainly is a thing to aim for.

So here is one piece of advise you can take or leave: next time there is a Red Herring Award, apply for it. And even if you don't, or don't make it to the finalists, much less the winners, go there. The event is open for technology entrepreneurs, and if you are open to meet like-minded people, to exchange ideas or just learn about what others are up to, the Red Herring event is an excellent venue.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Open Source 2011 Survey sees flexibility as driver

The Open Source 2011 Survey (answered by 455 participants, 60% non-vendors) has lead to some interesting results.

I would like to highlight the question "what makes open source software (OSS) attractive". Here are the three main drivers that make OSS attractive from a customer's perspective:
  1. Freedom from Vendor lock-in
  2. Lower costs
  3. Flexibility

"lower costs" no longer dominates the list like it has in the past 3 years. This year "freedom from vendor lock-in" is the number one attraction of open-source software. And it is the first time that "flexibility" is in the top three.

For Magnolia that plays right into our value proposition:
  • no vendor lock in, since our customers have access to the source code, can choose between a large network of implementation partners, and we support open standards so it is easy to move on should you want to (incidentally, our customers prefer to stay with Magnolia once they have experienced the difference great software can make to their business results and staff's happiness)
  • Lower costs has moved down from the top spot, and it should. Magnolia competes on value, not (licensing) price. Which doesn't mean we don't provide an excellent deal – Magnolia's Standard Templating Kit will significantly reduce your total cost of ownership, and no matter what we charge for Magnolia, the STK benefits alone outweigh the price.
  • Flexibility – a recent independent analyst report has found Magnolia CMS to be the most flexible CMS system on the market (free download after registration). This is no coincidence. We know that every customer has different needs, and we know that the web is evolving faster than I can type this blog. It is only natural we ensure Magnolia CMS can easily be adapted to every whim of your marketing boss, integrate with every legacy backend that is powered by electricity and incorporate the latest fad printed in glossy magazines typically read by your CEO in trans-atlantic business class flights.
If you want to learn more about the Open Source 2011 Survey results, the 451 group has a report you can download from their website (registration necessary)

Monday, April 18, 2011

The 10 most important features of a CMS

In a recent blog post entitled "Features Impacting Open Source CMS Selection " we learn that 3,365 people answered the question: “When selecting a CMS, how important are the following features?" as part of the latest Water & Stone report on open source content management systems.

79.7% of the participants in the survey were from small to medium-sized businesses (less than 100 employees, so the answers might not translate directly to Magnolia EE customers who are typically a tad larger (e.g. EADS, Johnson & Johnson, Unilver and the US Navy). Still, there are many Magnolia Community Edition users that fit the bill, and so let's have a look of how Magnolia stacks up on the 10 most important features a CMS should have.

  1. Flexible User Permissions – nearly 70% of respondents think this is very important. So does Magnolia, of course, which not only allows you to create ACL's Groups and Roles but also supports external authorization and authentication via LDAP and NTLM. All content in Magnolia is stored in a JCR-170 repository, which means all content is protected through access control.
  2. Open API – covered: read the Magnolia API.
  3. Search Engine Optimization – Magnolia and especially its best-practise Templating Kit (STK) got this aspect covered extensively, starting from friendly URLs to support for the Sitemap protocol. We even have written a 30-page Magnolia SEO tech brief describing how to apply search engine optimization (SEO) to enterprise websites by employing best practices together with the built-in tools in Magnolia CMS.
  4. Content Tagging – since Magnolia 4.1 we allow you to categorize content using Magnolia's Content Categorization module. Watch the video showing you Magnolia's content categorization (this feature is shown starting at 9:09 minutes). There is also a community modules for tag clouds that takes a different approach.
  5. Configurable Workflow – well covered thanks to our integration of a third-party workflow module. Workflow is documented on our official documentation page. WHile most people get along well wit Magnolia's out-of-the-box 4-eye-workflow, there are nearly no limits to what the underlying engine can do.
  6. Content Versioning – yes, Magnolia CMS creates versions of content and includes a diff view to see the differences between them.
  7. Social Media Integration – provided via Frisbee, a Magnolia module that provides
    • Google Map (v3) integration (single and multiple markers)
    • Flickr Slideshow, with custom query builder (tags, full-text search, author based search..)
    • Facebook integration (SDK, iLike, meta tags, reading values from page properties)
    • ShareThis and AddThis integration
    • Twitter integration (last tweets, tweet this, retweet)
  8. Multi-Lingual Support – coming from Switzerland, we breathe multi-lingual. For an example, see Sony's Singstar site. Magnolia CMS also allows you to export content into a translation-office friendly XML file to externalize content translation.
  9. Multi-Site Management – read the case study how Texas State University is running 300 sites on Magnolia CMS. Magnolia's best-practise Templating Kit provides multi-site support in the Enterprise Edition.
  10. Mobile Publishing – Magnolia CMS has always been output-format agnostic, and while we currently ship no demo templates to show how content could look differently on mobile devices (a rather trivial exercise), Magnolia's STK demo shows how content is rearranged based on available screen estate (example starts at 5:30). Also, you may be interested to learn that Texas State University has an excellent Magnolia-powered iPhone app for their students; and recently voters in Switzerland very able to view voting results via a Magnolia-powered iPhone app.
Well, this concludes my little roundup of how Magnolia CMS supports the features Water & Stone's asked readers to rate in their survey. I think these are quite interesting, but note that readers had to rate these preselected 10 features, so it could be that some features are even more important (they just weren't on the list).

Magnolia recently won what is very likely the biggest Open Source CMS license deal on the planet. The feature that made the customer decide for Magnolia in the end? The fact that Magnolia didn't crash under high load, unlike the last remaining (closed-source) competitor on their short list.

And what about ease-of-use?
"We chose Magnolia CMS because it is easy to use for both our staff and our users." - Silke Radlherr, Team Leader, SWM
To learn how Magnolia's ease-of-use helped a $7B Utility Build its Brand on the Web, read our case study about SWM.

And to read what our users think about Magnolia, read the testimonials.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Magnolia Conference Call for Papers & registration open

We have launched the new Magnolia Conference site, and are now accepting proposals for presentations. This is the third time we do the Magnolia Conference and judging the success of the last two, you don't want to miss it. As in the last two years, we'll start with a partner day on Wednesday September 7th, followed by the public part of the conference on 8th & 9th.

This year we'd like to hear more from our ever growing list of successful customer projects, and I fully expect that the business track will be packed with cool stuff and interesting case studies. The technical track will certainly be surprising as well - last year we have seen presentations about Spring integration, Konakart integration, Ruby on Rails integration to name but a few. Also Joonas of Vaadin fame did show you what makes the Vaadin GUI framework so attractive.

Speaking of which, this year's conference will finally see Magnolia 5 and its new Vaadin-powered GUI. This will of course be the biggest reason to join, and I for one look forward to sharing the excitement with you. If you haven't done so already, be sure to check out our Magnolia 5 space on the community wiki, where you can track our ideas and comment on them.

If you care for a glimpse of what the conference is like, check out the 2010 Magnolia Conference archive. JBoss's community Manager Mark Newton calls this
one of the best Java CMS events I've been to
which is a really nice way of saying that you'll enjoy your stay.

If you register before the end of April you pay half the price of registering in September, so if you know you want to come, don't hold back. We also plan to offer developer workshops regarding Magnolia 5, details to follow. Workshops will cost extra, and be limited in availability. As a thank you for you early birds, conference ticket holders will get notified first.

So now, either register or submit a proposal for a presentation - in either case we'll be happy to see you at the Magnolia Conference 2011.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Raising the Bar in CMS Usability with Vaadin

We want our next major release to provide the very best administration interface for Web-based content management on the market.

Go ahead. Read that again.

Yes, we really do believe Magnolia 5’s GUI will be better than any other web based CMS on the market. That is a strong aspiration, agreed, but then again it’s been Magnolia’s core aim from day one: “Simplicity on an Enterprise Scale” for us means a CMS that is intuitive to use and works well for enterprise use cases. We have shown Magnolia CMS can cover enterprise use cases. Now its time to deliver on the usability part.

Setting a goal means adjusting focus. Magnolia 5’s focus is on user experience.

Magnolia 5’s usability shall amaze content authors with a high-usability interface not just when using a desktop browser, but also on an iPad and other mobile devices with a touch screen. With such high goals, you better choose a very good toolkit for building Magnolia’s new Graphical User Interface (GUI).

At Magnolia Conference 2010, Philipp and Daniel talked about Magnolia 5.0, and specifically about how we were evaluating Vaadin as our framework for the next-gen AdminCentral (our administration interface) in Magnolia 5.0. After a lot of debate (both internally and with the community) and some proof of concept development, we finally decided to stop tinkering and take the decision to go with Vaadin as our toolkit of choice for the Magnolia 5.0 GUI.

Show Me the Veggies!

If you'd like to see the Vaadin/Magnolia synergy in action, take a look at above video. This is a proof of concept. Things will look completely different with the final Magnolia 5.0, but it shows that Vaadin is able to work for the things we have in mind. It also shows a nice idea about building a graphical dialog editor.

Consistent User Experience Across All Input Devices

Magnolia's tagline is "simple open source content management" and we take this to heart. We want content authors (and developers) to be delighted with every aspect of Magnolia. Very simply, Vaadin helps us meet this goal because the people that build Vaadin share our philosophy. They really care about the user interface.

Out of the box, Vaadin comes with some great-looking UI components, which certainly helps for first impressions. And not only that, but it lets you put them together into a slick and intuitive interface without leaving behind a trail of messy code. However, shiny widgets alone don’t make a good user interface. With Andreas, Magnolia has a dedicated and experienced user interaction designer on its team who completely shares our vision of how things should work. Andreas has worked for months defining basic interaction patterns and hammering out how an interface must work to support not only mouse but also keyboard and touch as input devices for common Magnolia operations. So the next time you hit the down arrow on your keyboard to navigate down through the AdminCentral tree, it will actually work!

Touch support means Magnolia’s administration interface will work on an iPad and other mobile devices requiring touch support. It also means that Magnolia 5’s AdminCentral will likely be completely accessible, a feature often requested by governments but hardly found in any existing CMS.

One benefit of how we will utilize Vaadin, using shared components and pure Java packaging, is that the overall user interface will be much more consistent, regardless of whether a module comes from Magnolia's core developers or from an external contributor. This means shorter learning curves and more shiny, happy users.

Standardization and High Security

If you’re a Magnolia developer, you probably already know that our current AdminCentral client is tightly coupled to server-side architecture, and we use a custom JavaScript library to handle AJAX requests in the client. We never set out to conquer the world with our GUI libraries, but back when we started, there was no alternative to writing our own. With Magnolia 5.0 we finally have the chance to switch to an existing, established, well-proven, documented and (externally!) maintained library instead of having to work with our own. This allows us to focus on stronger traits, like building great user interfaces instead of fixing browser incompatibilities in GUI widgets. And it allows everybody else to use a library they can use across many other projects.

Standardization is a good thing and Magnolia has used existing code and supported standards wherever there was a match with our needs. The GUI library really is the last major part of Magnolia that was non-standard, simply because what we need did not yet exist.

Besides using a standard GUI library, one of our original technical goals for Magnolia 5.0 were to decouple AdminCentral from the server. Alas, our research made it clear that still no GUI framework exists today that fulfills all requirements at once. Vaadin comes with built-in listeners and data binding for its UI components, and it's already tested to work on major browsers, so it covers a lot of what we need. The framework is server-side, which brings a lot of benefits for every developer working with it, but it also means the coupling between client and server is not quite as loose as we originally envisioned it. Still, there is a lot to like about it:
  • Rich widget framework
  • Out-of-the-box theming
  • Java developer friendly
    • Close to Swing
    • GWT based (Java -> Javascript)
    • Can integrate any GWT-components
    • Rare GWT-compiles (compared to plain GWT)
  • Testing with pure JUnit
  • Apache License
  • Well documented

As Philipp discussed some time ago, Vaadin uses server-side events, which could impact performance, an issue that is particularly critical if you wish to provide a snappy user interface on the web. While we've seen that a server-side framework in itself doesn’t imply worse performance than a pure GWT approach (an alternative we considered), we will need to invest more effort on that end to achieve what we want. On the positive side, running an entirely server-side architecture makes the system more secure, and Vaadin's JSON-based UIDL allows for future extensibility. Vaadin is helping us kill multiple birds with one stone here: we're reducing server load, increasing security, future-proofing our work and creating a better user experience at the same time.

Open Source and Community Support

Like Magnolia, Vaadin is an open source project, and it already has a strong community base, excellent documentation and a dedicated team of developers who are improving it on a daily basis. Vaadin UI components are all written in Java and so, if you know Java, you can extend them, share them with the Magnolia community, and build cool stuff on top of them. That is one major reason we like it: with Vaadin, you don’t have to be a JavaScript wizard to build great applications for the web browser. And let’s face it, if you were, you’d be working for them.

For those of us who like to be home at least occasionally, Java is a fantastic choice to build applications, and Magnolia 5 with Vaadin will make it easier than ever to build extensions for Magnolia and help the Magnolia community grow, because now, you can also go wild on the front-end.

The best GUI Tool for Our Needs

We've been trying out Vaadin about eight months ago and while many challenges have been overcome for the original proof of concept, the real work still lies ahead of us. In our review and testing, we found that Vaadin consistently scored at or near the top in criteria such as productivity, security, theming, collaboration and community backing. With Magnolia 5 GUI development starting in earnest, we’ll soon have much more to say in terms of real-world experience. Ultimately, there is no silver bullet. Just like when you have to choose a Content Management System.

Learn More about Vaadin and Magnolia 5.0

If you’d like to learn more about Magnolia 5.0, you can see presentations about our Magnolia 5.0 roadmap from the community day at Magnolia Conference 2010. Then, check out the Magnolia 5.0 wiki pages. Learn more about Vaadin in this presentation by Joonas Lehtinen, also from Magnolia Conference 2010.