Thoughts on creating M6 with OSS.

I thought that I would share some of my experiences using open source software (OSS) to create this presentation. I’m not an OSS guru, although I’ve been using it much more since last term when I created a project about the implications of using it in education. This presentation was a chance to look a little deeper at some of the other aspects.

There are many free solutions for hosting a website. Ning, for instance, helped the previous two groups create great presentations, complete with comments, RSS feeds, e-mail notifications, and common logins. Google Sites is another option. It also includes the ability for all group members to contribute. We settled on Joomla because I knew it was open source, I had used it once before, and I have access to a Web server and necessary databases to install it on. Another option for us, would have been to use WordPress like the blog used in this course.

I won’t lie, there were a lot of frustrations with using Joomla. I can let my group members speak for themselves, but even up to Sunday night, there were lots of little things going wrong. For instance, if you embed a YouTube video, then edit the page after, the video is gone. I’ve since learned that using a different editor would have avoided that problem. Nevertheless, there were a lot of little issues, and under a deadline is not the best time to find them. Several people have already commented about this, and having a little more time to experiment before diving in would’ve been nice.

There were a lot of things that went well. First of all, it seemed really fitting to present this module on an open-source platform.  When we had decided upon the basic layout of the presentation, it was easy to add, remove, edit, and hide pages as needed. It was relatively easy to implement additional functions like the comments and forums, and there were a multitude of options for each choice. There were close to 10 comment systems to choose from. As it turns out, Joomla is designed to be able to handle huge and complex websites with multitudes of authors, including both backend administrative authors and front-end users. It has a lot of features in common with WordPress, likely because of their open source heritage.

I also used OpenOfficeSeaMonkey, and Gimp to create/edit content. All three of these applications work perfectly for me. There was no experimentation, I found no glitches, and they worked exactly as advertised. I would’ve been satisfied paying customer. All three of these should be beacons in the OSS community.

The big question, was it worth it? I think it was. Although Joomla is designed for more that we used, and I would like to try other content management systems too, it did the job well, giving us a clean layout, easy organization, and the ability for everyone to contribute. Like I said before, there are lots of free solutions, but I don’t regret giving OSS a chance.

October 22, 2009   12 Comments