"Count what is countable. Measure what is measureable. What is not measureable, make measureable." -- Galileo

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whitehouse.gov Goes Open Source

It was a red-letter day for open-source software when the White House announced its transition from ASP.NET to Drupal on Oct. 24. Several insightful pieces have already been written in the blogosphere (Nancy Scola and Tim O'Reilly), so I'll not rehash that here. Instead I'll do the usual and take a look at some numbers.

Some obvious choices for searching stats turn out to create problems. Uncle Sam's Google Search returns things like the National Vulnerabilities Database listing for a given CMS. Perhaps given that its 3:30 a.m., a first whack at how many .gov sites are out there using OS is to simply look at self-reporting for some representative CMS's.

Source URL

(No obvious collection available. If anyone knows of one, please comment.)

http://groups.drupal.org/node/19885 and http://groups.drupal.org/node/24119




Although its been heralded as a watershed moment for open source, FOSS has been steadily penetrating the .gov domain for years. The high-profile nature of whitehouse.gov, however, gives open source a great boost. But places like Albuquerque, Newport News, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, and many others have been using open source for years. I recommend reading the e-Government article in Wikipedia with an eye towards FOSS mentions, which are numerous.

As always, the message is to match requirements with capabilities. If you're a PHP shop with lots of talent in that area, you might be inclined to go in that direction. Similarly, with ASP.NET staff, DNN is a player. If security is one of your top concerns, Plone should be on your short list.

Meanwhile, here's another plug for FosterMilo's presentation at World Plone 2009 on Day 2 -- "Helping the Government Go Plone." They were instrumental in getting Plone up and running for the Cities of Albuquerque and Raton here in New Mexico. If past presentations are any indication (here's one of my favs), this will be a good one.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

While in Budapest

For all you lucky Plonistas that made it to Budapest, here's my suggestions on a few things to do. While there're plenty of shops, restaurants, museums, and other diversions in the city proper, I found the west side of the river to have some of the best scenary. Here's the Buda Castle...

with its impressive cathedral.

There's also a number of interesting subterranean features in Budapest, especially if the day is wet. Try the Castle Labyrinth up on Buda Hill (not for the claustrophobic) and then relax in the underground bar at the Hilton.

After a long day of sight-seeing, conferencing, sprinting, or to get the kinks out of your back after a long flight, try one of Budapest's many spas. When I was there (Dec. 2000), I stayed at the Hotel Gellert with its enormous and beautiful swimming pool, massage options, and hot springs.

Just don't believe their in-house TV ads talking about "radioactive" water :-))

Afterwards, just across the street is a path that will take you to the top of Gellerthegy, the Gellert Hill. Excellent vistas of the city, especially at night, await you.

In closing this non-statistical posting, congratulations to Chantal and Alex. Be sure to toast the happy couple when they present "Helping the Government Go Plone" (Day 2, 16:15).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day

Just a quick posting about Blog Action Day with this year's topic of climate change. Kinda hard to fold climate change into a blog about Plone, CMS, and measuring the effectiveness of web tools.

Best link I can think of between Plone and climate change is that of the relationship between environmental NGO's and Plone. A quick glance at Plone.net shows 46 sites identified with the industry area of "Environmental." This is one market area where Plone has repeatedly shown its strengths in delivering top notch content management solutions to NGO's and not-for-profits in this domain.

So hat's off to all the Plonistas working to deal with climate change on this Blog Action Day.

I'd also like to point readers in the direct of Sigourney Weaver's article in the Huffington Post on oceanic acidification. You might disagree with CO2's effect on global warming, but its effect on aquatic pH is undeniable.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Stats from Amazon

Its been another quarter and its time for a look at Amazon sales ranks for Plone books. From the graph above, you can see that some texts are bouncing around while others are trending steadily. I can't really explain the sales improvement for many titles last July (remember "dips" are actually good in terms of sales rank). The new titles have lost ground somewhat after the initial flurry of sales, but no one has gone over a cliff.

Without doing any further analysis (hey, its 3 a.m.), it looks like there's a cluster of books in the low to mid hundreds of thousands and another cluster above 800,000. We'll have to wait until December to see if this pattern is persistent.

My own behavior might explain some of this from an anecdotal point of view. At my day job we've just been going through the upgrade from 2.5 to 3.1 (don't ask). At any rate, its time to dust off my notes from Joel Burton's class last year and buy the Plone 3 texts for the rest of the staff. Not being an early adopter in the Plone upgrade process, we've held off on upgrading our technical library until now. I suspect others are in the same boat and this sort of lag will continue to drive Plone 3 book sales for some time.

I read with interest a piece from Morris Rosenthal where he's basically reverse engineered the sales ranks. Despite that, Amazon numbers are amazingly fluid and trending them is tricky, especially for those with ranks below 20,000. He's got some interesting graphs and an insightful writeup. In simple terms, Morris states the obvious:
Read an average rank of 1,000 to mean you have a seriously successful title, an average rank of 10,000 to mean your doing pretty good for a book that's no bestseller, an average rank of 100,000 to mean it's not going to contribute significantly to your income, and an average rank of 1,000,000 to mean you need to take a break from checking sales ranks.
Of course, these are Amazon numbers, so remember that online sales (Pelletier & Shariff) and direct sales from our friends at Packt (many of the others) will have a significant impact. Its also nice to note that Plone top sellers have ratings of 4.5 to 5.0.

By way of comparison, Drupal has four titles with sales ranks under 20,000. Unfortunately, they all have ratings of 4.5 or less. Joomla has three titles ranked under 50,000. Their ratings are 4.0 or less. WordPress has four books ranked under 20,000 ranked variously between 3.5 and 5.0.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vote for Your CMS

This weekend's post will be a quick one... in Albuquerque its the beginning of the annual Balloon Fiesta. In about four hours we'll see many hundreds of balloons take to the air for the first of several mass ascensions.

Of interest this week is that the nominations are in for the Packt Open Source Awards. Plone made the finalist's circle. The short list of five "best other open source CMS" contenders includes:
  • DotNetNuke
  • dotCMS
  • mojoPortal
  • Plone
  • WebGUI
By way of comparison, the PHP finalists are:
  • Drupal
  • Joomla
  • MODx
  • TYPOlight
  • WordPress
And the overall finalists are:
  • DotNetNuke
  • MODx
  • SilverStripe
  • WordPress
Its interesting that only DotNetNuke of the Other CMS category and MODx and WordPress of the PHP CMS group made it into the overall finalists. Drupal and Joomla appear have been promoted out of the overall category into the new Hall of Fame.

You can see that Packt is having to deal with a serious apples and oranges problem here, with .net solutions, blogging software, Perl, C#, Python, and J2EE systems in the mix. Although the Packt process is not particularly transparent, it does seem to be one that very roughly approximates how well particular communities can mobilize and get out the vote. To Open Source as a whole, its gratifying to see more than 12,000 votes in the nomination phase.

Voting is now open until October 30 so hop over and vote. Its worth $2000 to the Plone Foundation if it takes first place in its category.