Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

The Photographer's CMS: WordPress 3.5 plus Photocrati 4.5

Photocrati 4.6 Admin Screenshot

A few days ago, WordPress 3.5 was released and I originally planned to write the typical "what is new in WordPress" article similar to what I've done in the past for CMS Report. However, I thought this time around I would also discuss how I'm using WordPress to support the website of one of my favorite photographers, Karen Ruby of Dakota Imagery. Certainly, in this article there is no cause for you to suspect my opinions are biased with regard to her photography skills despite the fact we've been married for 11 years and she is the mother of my child. In this article, my goal is to not only provide WordPress and CMS users something interesting to read but also to point photographers to a WordPress package that my wife and I have found works quite nicely to support her photography business.

Screenshot of WordPress 3.5 site: DakotaImagery.comAs I'm writing this article, I'm currently in the process of updating my wife's WordPress website from WordPress 3.4 to WordPress 3.5. My wife is a photographer that over the years has evolved from amateur status to professional. When it was time to build her a new website (she had been using a SaaS site heavily weighed in Flash) we decided to keep it simple and use WordPress. Updating WordPress to the latest version only takes a click of the "Update Now" button and you're good to go. The process is generally painless and she usually doesn't require my assistance, but this time around we needed to wait on the availability of a newer version of Photocrati compatible with WP 3.5 before updating.

The Soft Sell of Open Source over Proprietary

I do not know when it exactly happened, but a number of years ago I decided to become a pacifist. I am a pacifist that is in the war of open source versus proprietary. In my opinion, the debate over licensing and software development processes is only mildly interesting as it is the quality of the end product that matters to me most. I walk the fine line of being an advocate for open source and a defender of proprietary software. Admittedly I've confused a lot of people that have chosen to take sides in this war. However, there is always room for reasonable civil discussions of any topic when new data and new perspective is given. This is perhaps why within the past week I enjoyed reading a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Acquia that shows the value of open source without necessarily attacking the value of proprietary software.

The independent study conducted by Forrester is titled “Is It Time To Consider Open Source WCM For Digital Experience?”. Given that the study is being promoted by Acquia, an open source Drupal company, it shouldn't be surprising to you that this paper highlights the benefits of open source web content management systems (WCM). However, the author of the paper does this in way that that doesn't also dismiss the value of proprietary systems. This paper is an invitation with business reasons given for IT shops that for one reason or another remain proprietary to start considering using open source solutions. That soft sell in my opinion will win over more customers than the doomsday ideologies we often hear from both open source and proprietary proponents.

First Impression: Liferay Grows Up

For a second year in a row, I along with CMS Report was invited to cover Liferay's North America Symposium which is being held this year in San Francisco. During this morning's keynote speech by Bryan Cheung, Liferay CEO and founder, I couldn't walk away from the presentation without recognizing the difference a year can make for one company. Something has changed for Liferay and the many partners and associated vendors that are represented here at this conference. Liferay has grown up, people are ready to talk business, and they're once again ready to talk about the importance of open source and community which makes this all happen.

This morning, Liferay released some startling numbers on just how good business is in terms of growth for the Liferay ecosystem. Consider some of these highlights related to the announcement:

Leaving Drupal is Hard to Do

Two years ago I began a process to consider how best to evolve CMSReport.com beyond where it is today. I've known for some time that I needed to take some risks, get out of my comfort zone, and perhaps change how I maintain and run the site. Given the opportunity and in the spirit of taking risks I've decided to no longer run CMS Report on Drupal. That's right, after running this site on Drupal for more than six years on Drupal I've decided to use another content management system.

For those that don't want to be left hanging, I mention the CMS I've chosen to run the upgraded site on toward the end of this article. In a separate article I'll get into the specifics for why I decided on this other CMS and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both information systems.

My primary objective with this post isn't to talk about another CMS, but instead to focus on Drupal and reflect on how much I owe a debt of gratitude to the Drupal community. I also want to make it clear that my decision to use another CMS is not a reflection of my opinions regarding Drupal. On the contrary, I have a number of past and future projects where Drupal remains the solution for my content management needs. 

Dethroned: Content Is No Longer King

I spent most of the last two weeks camping and hiking in the Grand Teton National Park of northwest Wyoming. If you've never visited this national park then take my word on it that Grand Teton is one of the most beautiful places a person can visit in this world. The mountains in this place peak near 13,800 feet and rise from the valley by almost 7,000 feet. Despite the warm summer much of the United States experienced, ice glaciers can still be accessed through a number of day hikes. For anyone that loves the outdoors, this place has everything in the form of wildlife, scenery, and activities. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending from your perspective), what the Grand Teton doesn't have is good 3G or 4G cell phone coverage.

Mobile cell phone coverage in vacation spots like these are spotty at best. There were times my Android 4.0 enabled smartphone phone was rendered into nothing more than a tin can on a string.  I'm usually OK with this, but my Jayco CMS developed a problem with it's propane powered refrigerator and a good internet connection would have been very helpful to help me troubleshoot the issue. In the end, old fashion workarounds and a bit of luck fixed my fridge issue at a time when the Internet and its vast amount of content remained unreachable to me. During those two weeks, I quickly found that content was not my king. The desired end product for me was not content but instead it was information.