LinuxTag 2010: Call for Papers Ends Today

LinuxTag is the most important place for Linux and open source software in Europe. Last year, LinuxTag had over ten thousand attendees, and over 300 speakers. This year, the 16th LinuxTag will be June 9-12, 2010 at the Berlin Fairgrounds in Germany.

LinuxTag seeks exciting and suitable proposals for presentations in the conference tracks. The Call for Papers ends today.

I am proud to be a member of the LinuxTag Program Committee. Although a lot of proposals have already been submitted, there are some topics missing that I’d personally like to see covered. So, if you’re up for a last minute submission, get your inspiration from the following list:

  • Is/was the recent economic crisis an opportunity for Open Source?
  • More real-life case studies on how OSS is being used in mission-critical scenarios.
  • A European or global perspective on Open Source in Public Administration.
  • How to make use of Amazon EC2 or Google AppEngine with Open Source apps?
  • Technical tutorials for beginners, especially for building Web apps (e.g. PHP/Ruby/Java/etc. for beginners).
  • High performance Web environments with Open Source tools
  • Security in the Cloud
  • What’s the status of some of the regional Linux distributions?

I can’t promise that your talk will be accepted if it covered one of the above topics. The review process is of course a joint effort of the whole Program Committee. Anyway, it’s definitely worth a try. Of course, any other topic I did not think of is also highly welcome.

Go here to submit your LinuxTag proposal.

Survey Identifying Business Needs for Semantic CMS

Please shell out a few minutes to help the IKS Project identify business needs for semantic CMS by participating in a survey. The results will help the EU-funded project to work towards an Open Source interactive knowledge stack.

There are two different sets of questions, depending on your background:

Thanks for participating in the survey and please spread the word!

Commercialization of PHP Software

I’ve just published an article that explains how a PHP-based product can gain a good position in the market and be made appealing to customers by using marketing communication. The focus is on products licensed under an Open Source license. Yet, most of the recommendations also apply to proprietary offerings.

The article has initially been published in German by PHPmagazin. It has now been translated to English and is available on the Initmarketing website: Commercialization of PHP Software.

Get a Dose of Semantics: Open Source Contributors Wanted for EU Project

The EU-funded IKS Project invites FOSS companies and projects to take part in building a software stack for knowledge management that is Open Source.

IKS is funded with 6.5 million Euros by the European Union and 2 million Euros are being invested by the consortium partners which makes up for an overall budget of 8.5 millions. The project will run for 4 years.

Financial support is available for 50 yet to be selected companies/organizations who agree to evaluate the IKS software stack as early adopters as well as 100 individuals who are members of a related FOSS project and who would like to actively engage in IKS project development. The budget for contributors to IKS is meant to alleviate the entry hurdles, e.g. for travel and accommodation for attending the IKS workshop end of May.

The premier focus of IKS is on FOSS content management systems and how they can make use of the to-be-developed IKS technology to let content objects behave the way they are supposed to across varying applications. Additionally, IKS also aims at cooperating with FOSS projects helping to implement semantics-aware software.

Wernher Behrendt, one of the initiators of IKS, exemplifies the project’s vision as follows:

Think of a task that has been defined in a project management software. Ideally, the project management software allows you to edit the task as you would expect it, for example, you can extend the ending date in case the work will take longer. Now, what happens if you want to transfer your work plan to the Web content management system that powers your Web site to display it to the public?

You will most likely create a screenshot of the work plan in the project management software, upload the screenshot in your WCMS and include it on a Web page. In between, you have lost all information about what a task is and how another application should treat it in case you want to edit it within the imported work plan.

This is where IKS comes to the rescue, because its software stack will not only provide a layer that takes care of metadata information (e.g. Ontologies, RDF, …), but will also be able to deal with information on how to process a content object across different applications.

If you’d like to join, IKS provides further information on its Web site and how to get in contact with them. Contribute to IKS as a…

Calendar of Open Source, IT, Industry-specific Events

World-wide Free and Open Source Software EventsInitMarketing has made its calendar of world-wide conferences and trade fairs related to Free and Open Source Software, IT and specific industries available to the public.

It currently includes 122 events in 17 countries taking place in 2009. 43 of them in Germany, 69 in USA. We use this calendar when planing events for our customers, thus we’ll regularly update it. Please let us know of any events which are not on our radar yet by commenting to my blog or commenting at the bottom of the events page.

Open Source CMS Companies Wanted for EU Project Proposal

Wolfgang Maass contacted me and asked if I would like to join the board of experts of an EU project they are going to propose. They are actually also looking for Open Source CMS companies (vendors or system integrators) who would like to join as a partner.

The EU project proposal entitled „Interactive Knowledge“ is currently being developed by a consortium which is led by Salzburg Research. The objective is to develop a “next generation semantic content management framework” based on existing frameworks, but with significant technological improvements ranging from RDF-storage to easy definition of workflows and business rules, and to dynamically re-configurable web interfaces.

Some more info on the objectives in Wolfgang’s words:

Our experience is that many smaller content management solution providers find it hard to make full use of the new standards such as RDF and CSS 3.0 when it comes to keeping solutions maintainable, re-usable or when it comes to cross-media publishing on mobile and other platforms. Increasingly, content management needs to interface with the “Internet of things”, e.g. you can get additional health information about a certain food product, by entering the retail store’s product code into a web-based content management system or into your mobile PA.

This is what the „Interactive Knowledge“ EU project will offer:

  • 50 smaller CMS companies can become early adopters (small grants of up to 12.000 Euro are possible)
  • 7 European SMEs who have content management systems will be offered to become full partners in this project and act as requirements experts as well as getting their own frameworks benchmarked with respect to their semantic capabilities. There are budgets between 80.000 and 200.000 Euro available, at a funding rate of 75%.

So, the „Interactive Knowledge“ EU project proposal is an excellent opportunity to benefit from a large scale R&D effort.

I know Wolfgang for quite some time and he told me that the project administrators have a very good track record in this type of project, are experts in the field and can assist with the administrative entry hurdles. This is good, because it will avoid that the EU bureaucracy and lazy project partners will eat up your valuable resources. I know how important this is because I have experience as a work package leader on behalf of eZ Systems of the successfully finished tOSSad EU project.

If you are interested, please send an email to wolfgang dot maass at hs-furtwangen dot de no later than this Thursday, March 20th, 2008.

See you at the kick-off meeting after the EU accepted the proposal 🙂

Saving CMS Consultants from Being Beaten Up

Wise man are rare, but they exist and one of them is happy to share his wisdom with all tense CMS consultants and project managers to help them relax.

Martin Bauer is his name and Packt just published his book entitled Managing eZ Publish Web Content Management Projects. In fact, this book is a tremendous work of reference for any kind of CMS project, be it eZ Publish or not, proprietary or Open Source. Only two of 13 chapters actually deal with eZ Publish specifics.

The book contains a hand full lines of code, the rest is valuable information covering the whole life cycle of a CMS project, for example:

  • Project cost estimates
  • How to write a specification
  • Project management approaches
  • Implementation and testing
  • Training
  • Maintenance and support
  • Risk management
  • etc.

What makes the book such a great source of information is its valuable combination of experience and facts. Just a few insightful quotes:

If a developer continually gives me best-case scenarios, I’ll protect myself by adding 40% to the estimate.

So, you can accomodate some delays, additions, or changes but once it gets beyond 10% [of estimated project duration], the project will be in trouble.

Risk management itself is a risky activity, but an important one. It’s a bit like insurance; you can get away without it until something goes wrong at which point you wished you had done something earlier.

If you make the mistake of thinking that the team doesn’t include the Client, then chances are you’ll fall into the “Us and Them” syndrome.

From my past experience as a Senior Consultant at eZ Systems, the creator of eZ Publish, I can wholeheartedly recommend Martin’s book – it will help you a lot to successfully cope with implementing CMS-based solutions.

If I were Packt, I’d cut out the eZ Publish-specific content from Martin’s book and make it a general reference for CMS project methodologies. Based on that book, Packt could publish vendor-specific references (e.g. eZ Publish, Drupal, Typo3, etc.). That way, Martin’s book could become a classic.

Two bloggers of the eZ Publish community also reviewed Martin’s book.

Disclaimer: The publisher approached me and asked me to write a review of the book. I agreed not without making clear that I will express my opinion independently.