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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Plone Metrics' Number of the Year

Remember last year:  "Therefore, be it resolved that I shall post to Plone Metrics at least monthly in 2014."  Not exactly an epic failure, but only 50% success.  I hereby grant myself resolution absolution.  (Thanks for the concept, Over the Hedge.)  At least I've turned the corner on frequency of Plone Metrics blog posting. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

'Tis the Season

Yes, it's that time of the year when everyone has misplaced apostrophes everywhere -- T'is the Season.  Just remember, "Axial tilt is the reason for the season," at least when you're an astronomer's son.  

Not only is it ChrisKwanFestNukkStice, it's just a week away from New Year's Eve.  That can mean only one thing:  Plone Metrics Person of the Year and chasing away the wolf that ate the sun (thx to @LeVostrCG).  I'm now accepting suggestions for a metric that can be used to differentiate one member of the Plone community from all the rest of this amazing group of people who keep the wheels of Plone spinning.

By way of a recap, here's past years' winners. 

2007 Alexander Limi
2008 Joel Burton
2009 Nate Aune
2010 Eric Steele
2011 Toby Roberts
2012 Martijn Pieters
2013 Elizabeth Leddy

Whether I've used personal experience, quality of contribution, OhLol measures, or something else, it's always been a difficult decision.  Too many good people doing great things.  If you have an idea for this year's metric, pop me a line @schlepp on Twitter.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Programming Languages and CMSs

Courtesy  of a link on LifeHacker, I discovered an interactive IEEE webpage that lets you slice and dice programming languages in a variety of ways.  You can sort them by ranking criteria like "trending," "jobs," "open," or customize your own ranking systems.  Additionally, you can filter them by web, mobile, enterprise or embedded language types. 

Interestingly, Python holds its number 4 spot overall and for all individual language types.  PHP follows in the number 6 slot.  PERL struggles along at 8 or lower, depending on how you select the filter settings. 

That said, it looks like Python is very much a contender in the programming language debate.  I used to teach Python to my class in algorithms because the class text, Corman and Leiserson, Rivest, and Stein's "Introduction to Algorithms," uses Python-ish pseudocode.  In fact, we'd often cut and paste their pseudocode, make a few edits, and run the algorithms with time tracking functions.  Racing algorithms--how to make O-notation fun. 

That, of course, brings us back to CMS.  A search on CMS Matrix for Python-based systems returns 23 results:
  • autowebcms
  • BlackMonk CMS
  • CubicWeb
  • Cyn.in
  • django-cms
  • DXM Multilingual
  • Easy Publisher
  • eContent 3.5
  • Ellington
  • EZRO
  • Macromedia Contribute
  • Mezzanine
  • Nuxeo CPS
  • Plone
  • PublishXML
  • PyLucid
  • Silva
  • Solgema
  • SR2
  • Web Cube
  • WEB123 CMS
  • WebEngine v6
  • zwook
A search for PHP-based systems returns 585.  (Contact the author if you'd like to see the entire listing.)

That's a fascinating mismatch between the IEEE ranking of the programming language and number of CMSs based on the underlying language.  Considering that Plone and Django are the heavy hitters among the Python-based CMSs, this puts them in a positive light. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The 6ht Annual Great Backyard Plone Count

It's that time of year... the Great Backyard Bird Count, organized by the Audubon Society, the Cornell Institute of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada.  And that means that it's also time for the Great Backyard Plone Count, this weekend Friday through Monday.

Because many Plone sites are intranets behind firewalls, they can't be located by crawling the web.  This is a chance for developers, site owners, and users to stand up and be counted.  It's a non-scientific, totally voluntary effort for self-reporting Plone-based web portals.  If your input from February 2013 is still current, you're already done. 

That said, the input form on the Google Docs spreadsheet is open.  Anyone can submit sightings of Plone in the wild.  The form will stay open until midnight Monday 17 February.  I'll be doing some mining of Delicious and other social bookmarking services this month and posting them as well. 

Although there's significant bias in a survey like this, the real value comes from tracking trends over time.  This is the sixth annual Backyard Plone Count (since 2009) and as the number of yearly data points increase, we'll better be able to extrapolate from the observations.  It's not that we're getting an absolute count of Plone market penetrations (just like the GBBC isn't counting individual birds), it's just that we're getting a repeatable sampling by the community.  It is as much a measure of community involvement as it is a metric of the actual number of Plone sites out there.

So get out there and spot some Plone sites -- and while you're at it, spend a little time counting birds at your feeder.

Thanks in advance!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Plone and Mobile

In keeping with my New Year's Resolution, here's installment #2 of my promised monthly Plone Metrics.  I'm likely to be one up this month, since I traditionally run the Great Backyard Plone Count in parallel with the Audubon Society's Great Backyard Bird Count and this year that will be February 14-17. 

Meanwhile, I just finished drafting an abstract for the INMM information analysis technical meeting this May in Portland.  I'll be presenting my thoughts on mobile technologies and their impact on nuclear nonproliferation.  With that in mind, I turned to Google Analytics to see how Plone.org is doing with regard to mobile.

The data set begins in September of 2009, when Google started collecting mobile device infomation.  It's clearly increasing and in step with growth in the mobile use of the web. 

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has been tracking "cell internet users" since 2009 and the findings shouldn't be a surprise.  In 2009 31% of all cellphone users browsed the web with their device.  That has doubled to 63% in 2013.

Since 91% of Americans own a cellphone, that's 57% of everyone in the U.S. using their cellphone to access the web or check e-mail.  I assume that similar trends exist for much of the developed world.  In developing countries, matters are not lagging far behind--89.4% of the population subscribe to mobile services.  Almost 20% are broadband subscriptions.   (Thanks, MobiThinking.)

For the moment, Plone.org is growing linearly with regard to mobile.  Here's the data exported into  Open Office Calc with a regression line run through it.  The fit is reasonably good with R2 over 0.83 across 52 months of data since late Q3 2009.

Meanwhile, here's what Plone.org looks like on my Droid.  (I wanted to get a screenshot with Google Glass, but the voice recognition keeps insisting that I'm searching for "clone.") 

And here's the usual Drupal comparision.

And finally, just to widen the field a bit, here's the mobile screenshot for Liferay.

This last one is interesting because its format is one of  a long, long vertically scrolling page.  I'll save an examination of the UX of these mobile interfaces for another time.  I include Liferay here because it's only three stops away on the Green Line in Real Story Group's CMS subway diagram.

The Green Line is Portals and Content Integration.  More on this subway map later, but I need to hold back something for March. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Trends and Google Trends

I thought I'd take a shot at keeping my New Solar Orbit Resolution and get out the January edition today.  With this item I'm one twelfth of the way there.  I thought I'd discuss a curve I see when I look at the term "Plone" through the lens of Google Trends.
It's positively or right skewed, meaning that the mode (the high point) is far to the left of the mean. One might take this to be an ominous sign of a software product sliding gently towards oblivion.  However, this is not the case.  For example, the Plone curve has almost the exact same shape as that of another term.  Go ahead, take a guess before you read the next paragraph. 

The above is the Google Trend curve for Apache2.  No one is going to claim that Apache is sliding into oblivion.

What's interesting is that Google Trends now makes discovery of these correlations very simple.  The GT correlate page let's you enter a term and the system provides an ordered list of similar search terms.  Typically they have correlation coefficients above 95%, often close to 99%.  Enter "Plone" and this is one of the results:
This gives us a window into a number of other comparisons.  Here's LifeRay and Drupal.

Have they peaked and now are entering their golden years as faded has-been CMS's?

Here's WordPress compared with Google Analytics.  Even with the huge spike in 2006 for the rollout of GA, the correlation coefficient is on the order of 98%, something statisticians would give their eye teeth to see in experimental results. 
If one squints, it's possible to see that WP and GA have plateaued and may even begun to decline in their Google Trends scores.  Quick, sell your WordPress stock!  ;-)

Back to our GT graphs, here's the plot for Unix:

The initial upswing and peak almost certainly took place years if not decades ago and is simply truncated by the lack of Google history.  Is this graph showing us Unix dying with a whimper instead of a bang?

What is going on here?  All these Google Trends are showing a positively skewed distribution.  Several probability distributions exhibit these characteristics.  Candidates include the gamma distribution (this might be a subset, the Erlang distribution) and the log-normal distribution.  Log-normal distributions are maximum entropy probability distributions and that hints at what the underlying phenomenon is and why Unix, Apache, and Plone aren't soon going extinct.

Entropy when applied to Web phenomena is a measure of "buzz."  But here we are looking at the use of search terms, not website visits or software downloads or installations.  Once someone has found plone.org, there's rarely a need to search for it again.  Over time, everyone who is interested in a topic, discovers that topic's key online resources.  Thereafter, one rarely needs to repeat a search.  The result is steadily diminishing search volume, which doesn't mean that interest is waning.  Rather, it means that the interested population is being fully reached.  The steady but low-volume long tail of the GT graphs probably represents the entry rate of newcomers to a particular community as they search and discover the key resources for that domain.  Everyone else has long ago bookmarked Plone.org.