Drupal versus Proprietary Web Content Management Systems

With any Web content management system, you’ve got to budget for continued support, training and improvements. After more than ten years’ experience setting up sites, and moving content between straight HTML, to writing my own customized content management system, to migrating to custom enterprise systems, including proprietary systems, and now to Drupal, I’ve found that the smart money in Web content management goes to systems that are open source, and broadly supported by the community.
We used to suffer from being “locked-in” to proprietary systems, and our vendor would milk us for all they could, or nickle and dime us to death… but now, since Drupal’s software and security improvements are free for anyone to download, all we pay for is great service. That’s what Drupal vendors compete on; they can’t lock you in.
Proprietary Web content management systems are basically fighting for their lives right now, and are working hard to find a niche where they can survive — so they’ll say anything to get you stuck to their product. This is called “vendor lock-in.” Once you’re in those systems, how do you escape? Your choices are limited, since the number of “partners” is likely nowhere near as big as the number of shops supporting Drupal now, and in the years to come. How big is your proprietary system’s development team? Drupal 7 Core had nearly 1000 contributors, and the number of folks working on Drupal contributed modules is now up above 23,000.
By the way, almost 6000 modules are available for Drupal 7, the most current version. Drupal is widely supported by a huge, vibrant community and is currently installed on over a million Web sites (see http://www.drupalshowcase.com/ for some examples).

Wikileaks: Microsoft speaks out against Open Source in Thailand

A view behind the curtain — this is what it looks like when the State Department helps to promote proprietary software. From a Wikileaks cable:

Microsoft-Thailand’s Corporate Affairs Director identified software copyrights as a big issue. On the one hand, he praised the Thai government (RTG) for strengthening its IPR enforcement and education efforts, and said Microsoft was “very pleased” that Thailand’s software piracy rate has decreased by two percent a year since 2006. On the other hand, he expressed concern over the RTG’s Creative Economy policy of promoting the “open source” software model over the “commercial source” model as a means to curb piracy.

I guess I’m confused. Wouldn’t promoting open source be an excellent way to combat piracy?

Alternating row backgrounds / conditional formatting in OpenOffice.org

Have you put together an OpenOffice.org table in OpenOffice.org Calc, and wanted to display alternating backgrounds for easy reading? Well, there’s an easy way to do it.

A spreadsheet section showing rows formatted with alternating white and gray backgrounds.

Row backgrounds alternating white and gray 10%

The steps are:

  1. Create a style for every other row and call it “Even rows.” Make its background “Gray 10%,” or whatever other color and attributes you prefer.
  2. In your spreadsheet, select the range of rows you’d like to format.
  3. In the Format menu, click “Conditional Formatting…”.
  4. Choose “Formula is” in the first dropdown.
  5. For the condition itself, enter the formula ISEVEN(ROW()). This formula tests if the current row in question is even or not. If it is, the condition is met and your style is applied.
  6. For Cell Style, select the style you created back in Step 1.
  7. Click OK. There you go.
Dialog box showing formula entered properly in OpenOffice.org.

Your formula should look like this.

Install a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) plugin for Google Chrome beta running on Ubuntu Linux

Interested in getting Java to work in the just-released Google Chrome on your Ubuntu install? You can always try linking directly to the plugin binary:

$ locate libnpjp2.so
$ sudo mkdir /opt/google/chrome/plugins
$ cd /opt/google/chrome/plugins/
$ sudo ln -s /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun- .

Works for me!

whitehouse.gov moves to Drupal, recovery.gov migrated from Drupal

Whoops! Chris Wilson had one good point, but some big misses in this article. I guess this is a danger for a writer — for example, the “PHP” input filter setting allows JavaScript by default, but Chris didn’t select that setting.

The biggest problem is that he claims that Drupal is impenetrable, which it is. For many beginners, it has a steep learning curve. But he never makes the connection; why do your site visitors care? If millions of them appear, and your site continues to work well in response because it was built with a solid operational foundation instead of being built with something that has a cute-but-heavy GUI on the backend, don’t they benefit? It looks to me like Chris has unfortunately conflated the needs of end-users with the needs of site developers.

Also, I’d like to take my hat off to the organization that landed the $18M contract to migrate recovery.gov into Sharepoint. That’s a lot of money for a site built using tables in HTML and containing leftover hidden cruft like “this Web Part Page has been personalized. As a result, one or more Web Part properties may contain confidential information. Make sure the properties contain information that is safe for others to read. After exporting this Web Part…”