Lower the cost of publishing on the
web by effectively using open-source software tools.
By Emily Randisi
Because there are a
number of open-source software options available, figuring out which tool makes
sense for your association can be overwhelming. At the 2011 Association Media
& Publishing Annual Meeting, Patrick Peak, chief technical officer at
Brower Media, and Kwesi Agyeman, web/e-communication specialist at American Gastroenterological
Association, explained the benefits open-source solutions can offer an
association. They also outlined the best ways to take advantage of these tools,
and how to overcome some of the unique challenges associations face when
implementing these solutions.
Meaning of Open Source Software
Open-source software is
downloaded freely, and can be used, changed, and modified for free. Even if you
don't see it, itís everywhere. It's storing and sending emails, Tweets, etc.
Google uses Chrome and Android operating systems. Facebook, Apache, and Firefox
are all open source. Open source software is generally focused on web
publishing and content management tools.
Open-source software advantages
Free to download
Free to make
No wait time for
release from vendor.
Freedom to fire!
If you have a bad relationship with the vendor, you can change without
to bottom-up adoption.
People buy software
they don't use. Open source is by programmers, for programmers. Developers are
going to use it anyway.
On the other hand, open
source does have its challenges. Just because it's built on open source doesn't
mean it's free. Hire professionals to build your website. In open source
environments, chat communities and IT support are run by volunteers, so there
may be significant wait time for replies.
Here are three open
Easy hosting and
can increase to host yourself later on.
Design is cheap
for a theme, but there are no real customization options.
More complex content
management system (started as a discussion forum, now it runs very content
heavy sites such as the White House web page.)
Many features are
Solid track record
for complex sites, such as The Economist.
Is the middle
ground between a blog and platform.
3. Ruby on Rails
"RubyĒ is the
language it uses.
Started as small business
application for Groupon, Twitter, Living Social.
heavily adopted Dev framework.
Safety in numbers,
more support and training you get.
build big websites with small number of people.
responsibility, definitely a programmerís tool. Suited for custom projects.
The right team with the
right tool can make a great website, the speakers say. The best way to
determine what open-source platform will work for you is to start with a story,
analyze how the content is produced, what needs to change to make it suitable
for the web, and how you will make it happen. Then, think about what features
each open-source platform has to offer.
Finally, the speakers
told association publishers to treat their website like an ongoing investment because
youíll have more chances for refinement, and you won't kill your staff with too
much work at one time.
Randisi is a marketing associate at Bates Creative Group. Association Media
& Publishing thanks her for covering this event for members who were unable