Woogloo Today


Woogloo V3 vs. Open Source CMS

10:38 Tuesday Mar 12, 2013

by Terrence Bull

Woolinux with an Ubuntu crown

A number of times questions are asked about Open Source CMS systems, usually in relation to the client fearing being ‘locked in’ to one provider in regard to hosting and software development: they want to feel they have some control over the software product they are paying for, instead of being at the mercy of their provider. There also is a perception that Open Source equates to a lower cost solution for the client. We want to address these questions and put some myths ‘to rest’.

Let us start by stating that we are pro Open Source software. V3 uses Open Source software extensively: it runs on a Linux operating system, Ubuntu; is written in Java and it uses Groovy (a super set of Java) for building database Handlers in the Browser; has at its foundation the Play! Framework; uses Freemarker for a server-side mark-up scripting language; runs the natively encrypted H2 SQL database; uses two different browser based code editors CodeMirror and Bespin; incorporates jQuery for its JavaScript library; and CKEditor for it’s WYSIWYG editor. We also promote the use of Firefox (an Open Source web browser) for managing V3 websites. So you can see, we like Open Source software a lot.

However, we are a software development company who employs some very smart programmers – some of which cost us $US100 per hour. Every time we need to make even small changes to the core system of V3 it is very expensive – even though the software is free, the support is not! While we are theoretically not beholden to these programmers, we have invested a huge sum of money to bring them up-to-speed with our system and it would cost us dearly to get others to the same level of understanding. As a safeguard for us, we have contracted the ‘brainiest’ of these programmers through another development company so we don’t have to ‘start again’ if one staff member leaves – i.e. the knowledge is held in a company not a few individuals.

Support and Knowledge Cost

So here are the issues of Open Source software demonstrated: free software does not equal free support and it soon becomes cost prohibitive to change providers even when you have that choice.

In-fact, most web developers have invested in staff with knowledge of one system or another. They may tell you, since they support Open Source CMS systems, that they will help you ‘choose the best option for your situation’. However, they simply cannot afford to support more than one solution, as their staff will need to become very specialized in one particular product in order to provide even relatively modest requirements. So the option they will give you will be the one they support – and they will demonstrate how it is the ‘superior choice’. That is, they will sell you their solution.

More than this, the true cost of set-up does not come down to the price of the software, but the price the provider charges to set it up for you. With the Woogloo V3 solution, the cost of set-up is very low, as it has specifically been designed to be fast and easy to set-up. Open Source solutions are usually very time-consuming and expensive to configure, and require a great deal of expertise – unless you are using a very standard, out-of-the-box template solution. That is, one built without your unique branding, marketing and operating requirements in mind.

Software Development Openness

Another major factor for the client is ‘who can make changes to the software, and can they even employ staff in-house to make those changes’. The perception is Open Source software gives you this option, but again cost becomes an issue. Let us explain why.

Woogloo has invested over 7 years in the development of the V3 solution specifically to build a system that is ‘easy to program’. Our V1 and V2 solutions were powerful tools with an easy-to-use interface for clients wanting to manage their website content. However, V3 goes way further and is a powerful and easy-to-use development environment that anyone can quickly and easily build new functionality on. In that regard it is an ‘open system’ – i.e. one that anyone can ‘redevelop’ themselves.

The key to focus on here is the concept of ‘easy-to-develop’.  Open Source software may open the core code base to anyone to ‘fiddle’ with, but it is certainly anything but easy-to-develop on. One must become very proficient indeed in order to be able to ‘play’ with the core code base of the system. Even creating plug-ins and new functionality requires a level of skill well beyond your average web developer and completely out-of-reach for the web designer.

Therefore, new developments on Open Source systems are time consuming and expensive! This is not so on Woogloo V3. In fact, even web designers can, and currently do, create new functionality – quickly and easily (read: fast and cheap!). Woogloo V3 was designed from ground up to open up the development of new web applications to lower skilled developers – i.e. in-house staff and low-cost developers and designers.

Hosting Portability

The final question is ‘portability of the hosting’ – i.e. “can we change hosting providers if required?”

With the V3 solution, while it is possible for large companies or large Woogloo Resellers to host the solution themselves, the cost of this would be prohibitive for most companies – and certainly not worthwhile for a solution requiring less than around 100 websites. It is a very complex solution that requires a great deal of server resources and ongoing support. The hosting fee of $39.95/month/site is only possible through leveraging those resources. It compares with other high-end solutions charging around $US300-$US800/month, which makes it extremely cost-effective (i.e. cheap!).

An Open Source system is no cheaper to host – when comparing ‘apples-for-apples’. The cost savings, if any, usually comes by way of lower grade services: less robust servers (i.e. they fall over a lot, taking your website offline); and they have limited resources available to you (i.e. less people can visit your website, you can have less pages, less images, less information and less functionality on your website). Over all, while the grass may appear greener on the other side of the fence, it never truly is.

In Summary

Open Source Solutions:

  • are more expensive to set-up and maintain
  • give you no more ‘owership’
  • still leave you ‘locked’ in to your provider
  • are more expensive to bring the development ‘in-house’
  • provide no cost savings on hosting

Woogloo V3:

  • is faster, easier and less expensive to set-up and maintain
  • gives you easier and more powerful tools to use so you have more control over the solution
  • provides for lower cost ongoing development that is easy to bring in-house if required
  • with multiple Woogloo Resellers backed by Woogloo, you can easily change providers if you are unhappy with the level of support being provided and are ultimately in ‘safe hands’
  • provides a lower cost hosting solution than comparable solutions

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