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Open source WCM vs. Interwoven

on Sat, 12/06/2008 - 21:15

Ahhhh.... In the cycling world, when you catch up to a group riding ahead of you, and pass them with ease, you feel sooooo happy about the the fact that you're strong enough to pass them. (Am I competitive? Nah... ;-)

The same thing happens in tech, too. The latest example? When closed source vendors start to get defensive about open source alternatives, you know the open source is starting to affect their business, and the open source project is pulling up to - and passing - the closed-source products.

Witness the blog post by Annie Weinberger from Interwoven, where she tries to disparage open source web content management by saying it's "not free" like a free puppy isn't really free.

As a vendor of a non-open-source solution, she (and Interwoven) must of course try to find a way to defend a closed-source solution in light of the emergence of open source solutions. I don't begrudge her right to defend Interwoven's products.

But WCM is extremely well suited to the use of open source in preference to proprietary software (like Interwoven). Why? Most websites / web applications have that "one special feature requirement" to meet the business needs of the site owner. Annie's claim that non-open-source solutions are better ignores several realities:

  1. If the closed-source solution does not provide an API to meet the customer's need, the workarounds can be highly costly - much higher than the cost of implementing it within an open source solution where access to the actual source code simplifies the extension.
  2. The claim of "lack of functionality" may apply to small open source WCM projects. But the biggest open source WCM projects have huge, vibrant communities that create new plugins for their open source frameworks as fast as new Web-based services emerge. Want tight integration with Open Social for your new social publishing website? Download and install the plugin ("community contrib(uted) module" in Drupal-speak) and you're in business. Facebook? Get the plugin. Plaxo? OpenID? Mpeg converters? Are your employees accustomed to a different Intranet wiki syntax (e.g. Markdown vs. MediaWiki, or whatever)? Different image sliders? Need to use a different CDN? Want to store images on Amazon Block Storage? Get and install the plugin module, and voila.
  3. So quite the opposite of "lacking functionality" as claimed, projects like Drupal have huge communities creating extensions for their systems as fast as the web is moving. And what about closed source solutions? All features must be created by the vendor, and at Web-Speed virtually no vendor can keep up with the needed features.

Annie, I guess we in the Drupal world feel (just a little) bad that you need to try to find a way to scare people away from open source. But, on the other hand, maybe we don't feel that bad.... ;-)


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