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Where content meets technology

Feb 17, 2012

Outerthought Joins NGDATA

I just received an email update that NGDATA has bought Outerthought, developers of Lily CMS, Kauri web application framework, and Daisy CMS. Here is the announcement. I do not know much about NGDATA other than it is a bigger company with a focus on big data. But just from that information, the acquisition could be a great opportunity for both sides.

I have been following Outerthought for a long time (starting in 2007 when I wrote about them in Open Source Content Management in Java) and got to know the team when I presented at one of their Fireside Conversations. The Outerthought team has always impressed me with their architectural vision and ambition. One day, I sat down with their architects and developers and was blown away by their insight and creativity. At times I was doubtful that a team so small (with so little external funding) could execute on such lofty plans: developing a new web application framework and building the first "big data" CMS. But they seem to continually defy my doubts.

I hope that NGDATA fully understands what it got out of this deal and gives the Outerthought team autonomy and resources to continue its successful track record and further accelerate the pace. Most of all, I wish the Outerthought team a great future as part of NGDATA.

Jan 13, 2012

Legacy reports available

If you read Content Here through RSS or just follow links to individual articles, you may have missed my new publications page. In addition to listing some articles that I have published on other sites, the publications page now includes reports that I used to sell here at Content Here. I have not kept these reports up to date with the technologies that they cover but the background information and selection strategies are still very relevant. They are posted up on Scribd where they are free to read. You may find the following reports particularly interesting.

  • Open Source Web Content Management in Java

    This was Content Here's first report. It reviewed 7 open source Java web content management systems (Alfresco, Apache Lenya, Daisy, Hippo, Jahia, Magnolia, and OpenCms). While the individual product reviews are all out of date, the first 20 pages of the 173 page report contain useful information on the rise of open source content management and how evaluating open source platforms is different from commercial platforms

  • Open Source Web Content Management in Alfresco

    This is the Alfresco review from Open Source Web Content Management in Java but updated to version 3.1 which was released in April of 2009.

  • Drupal for Publishers

    This is my most recent report. It was published in 2009 and covers Drupal 6.10. The interesting thing about this format is that it reviewed Drupal from the perspective of a publisher. The report is broken up into 3 sections: "what the publisher needs to know," "what the editor needs to know," and "what the developer needs to know." I think that much of the general commentary is still very relevant.

Mar 25, 2008

Daisy 2.2 released. Kauri keeping Outerthought busy

Outerthought recently announced version 2.2 of their Daisy CMS platform. One of the biggest improvements has been in the area of localization. Daisy, with its "variants" model, has always been strong in managing multiple language renditions of a content asset. With 2.2, Daisy has improved the way different translations of a document are kept in sync. For example, if your native language is English, you may create many incremental English versions of an asset and translate the major versions into the secondary languages. Daisy 2.2 allows you to map different versions of language variants and shows you when the mapped versions are not in sync. For a better, more thorough explanation, see Bruno Dumon's blog post on translation management.

I think that the Daisy 2.2 release has been ready to go for a while but the team has been working on a new web application framework called Kauri. I know what you are thinking: just what the world needs, another web application development framework. Take comfort in knowing that they are not trying to re-invent everything. They are re-using what they like but have decided to build their own runtime and their own template language. The runtime is based on a "Restlet" (as opposed to servlet) architecture and seems pretty interesting. While servlet based frameworks may be considered to heavy weight for REST style architectures, I think departing from a well known standard (like the Servlet standard) should not be taken lightly. Noelios, the company behind Restlets, is intending to take their Restlet API 2.0 through the Java Community Process this year (see blog post).

The creation of a new templating language makes me a little uncomfortable. While there is really no good standard other than JSP JSTL (not really a templating language in itself) and XSLT (too hard for most to learn), creating a new templating language (or any new language) is the developer equivalent of jumping the shark - an over the top attempt to break out of the status quo.

No templating language is perfect but there is value in working in an imperfect language that you know or that your IDE knows. Most templating languages go through a natural lifecycle where they start out architecturally pure but limiting (and often a little slow and buggy too), then they achieve stability, then they start to get ruined by the desire add programming capabilities that spoils the separation between layout and business logic. I would love to see a better standard in this area that will help slow the decay of a good templating language and bring some commonality between content management systems.

I will try not to pass judgement on the Kauri template language before I see it and I would love to see something that would make me want to teach it to a creative developer. I guess you could say that I have a healthy skepticism.

Sep 04, 2007

Daisy 2.1 Release is Official

Outerthought just announced the official release of Daisy CMS: version 2.1. For those who are not familiar with Daisy, it is a fairly simple, easy to use Java based WCM platform. The front end is styled after a wiki although it supports more comprehensive WCM functionality such as structured content types, decent access control, and workflow. The repository is de-coupled and is accessible through a ReST style interface so the more ambitious or Cocoon-phobic (the user interface is written in Cocoon that has a steep learning curve) can write their own management interface and front end.

Daisy is primarily used for basic informational sites, intranets, and knowledge bases. Some companies use it to create documentation because of its XML oriented architecture, its book publishing features, and also its powerful versioning and localization functionality. Thanks to a partnership with the Belgian systems integrator Schaubroeck, Daisy is widely used for local and regional Belgian government sites. Daisy development is managed by Belgian systems integrator and software developer Outerthought which also sells support packages on the platform.

This new release is supposed to be easier to configure and manage (thanks to a new Spring based runtime container) and includes a very cool visual version diff'ing tool. Unfortunately Daisy is still missing user input validation out of the box. You can only set whether a field is required and the size of the input box.

If you have been looking for a basic, mature Java WCM and have been turned off by the complexity (in terms of user interface, architecture, and social dynamics of the community) of Apache Lenya, you should give Daisy a look.