Monday, May 30, 2005

Is open source contribution R&D?

Looking through som old blog postings done by Martin Fowler (whose posts I find most interesting, both in an academic and practical way), I found this one. I consider building on those thoughts when defending my thesis' approach.

Martin Fowler asks whether open source projects can be actual R&D.

I ask (overstating the problem): Do all the brittle R&D efforts done through students' master thesi need to be 100 pages of paper theory?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Is content hierarchal?

According to one guest lecturer at a course about knowledge management, Åsmund Mæhle, their first attempt at creating a web portal for governmental CoP's failed because they tried to sort information in a hierarchal manner. Eg. they would put everything related to one municipality in under one node, but later failed to connect it to other municipalities having similar practices.

Their solution was to have a map-like, associative structure of information: Concepts and relations (a hierarchy typically only has one sort of relation: is-child-of).

Of course, an associative directory will be less structured, more difficult to implement and (arguebly) harder to maintain.

Certain websites require a rigid structure (legal documents, laws and rules) to guarantee no navigational mishaps or confusion.

My imminent conclusion is that larger sites, especially the portals, needs to declare certain parts of their structure an associative one, leaving a strict core with important documents in a hierarchy.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Spring 2005
- Gather requirements
- Develop solution

Autumn 2005
- Deploy solution
- Extend functionality

Spring 2006
- Put together feedback, notes, reports
- Results in a thesis


As I presented my thesis, I had to define a scope. The world of CMS is a large, complex and deals with multiple scales and platforms, ranging from global enterprise content management (with proper intranets, DAM, DRM, and the lot) to small single site web publisher software.

To reduce the scope I laid my approach to the following areas:

-One platform (java)
-One market (open source)

Focusing on these two, the second in particular (open source can mean many things) can be risky, but it's better than enveloping the whole CMS business.

The other day I was contacted by Benjamin Mestrallet, founder of the eXo platform, as he had naturally taken some interest in this blog. I realized that eXo fits quite nicely into the scope of my thesis. This means that I will have to analyse the eXo platform in the same way I have started off with Magnolia.

I know there are some more open source WCMS around (, but I try to remind myself that some of these can be licensing boobytraps. Currently, even Magnolia is using a proprietary component which is not allowed for commercial use.

eXo is also subject of some licensing flaming. I quote an anoynmous person, though I'm sure a google search will disclose him: "BTW, these dual GPL/commercial licences like eXo make me puke. These are plain commercial entities surfing the marketing wave of free software to sell their stuff in a traditional way. I have nothing about classical runtime licences, except when they're hidden behind GPL smoke. ".

I have to add that I have not experienced Benjamin to be such a commercial entity. I've seen him speak in real life, and he seems to be an enthusiastic believer in open source. I won't make up my license opinion at this point, but it is a possible scope to focus on the business friendly licenses (ASL, BSD, LGPL). It would at least mean fewer open source solutions to analyse, and less work for me :D

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


I presented my thesis (as far as I've got) today for A and the rest of her students.

The presentation (available on my workspace) went fairly well. I was, however, vague on a couple of points:

The approach which I'm going to use (not just explicit, but a theoretical approach).

What sort of feedback will I get from the testing sites? Quantiative and/or qualitative?

Quantitative will be in form of statistics that we have already. After setting up the new WCMS, we can measure if activity on the webs of our customers increases.

I can measure the amount of support we do for our customers.

I can do qualitive interviews with the users before and after.

What sort of theory will I produce?

-Compare to excisting CMS theory
-Compare to portal theory
-Add my own theory!