Friday December 23, 2005

Open-Source Business Strategy

by Jay F. Davis,

As my business has evolved over the past few years, I've embraced several open-source web applications that have consistently provided excellent value to my clients. Chief among these are the LAMP platform (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP), which provide a solid core for cost-effective web applications.

I find that I consistently re-use several code libraries of my own and a couple popular open-source PHP-based web applications. These are:

  • osCommerce: The most popular php-based e-commerce web application. I've used this with several clients. The great benefit of osCommerce is that there are hundreds of mods that have been contributed by developers worldwide. Often I can find exactly what I need for a particular client need.
  • phpList: This has quickly become a must-have tool for my clients that do mass e-mail mailings. It works well and has all the power they need.
  • WTDB (Webtoad Database): My own library of PHP functions that makes if very easy to quickly build database administration functions for a client.
  • Mini-CM (Mini Content Manager): My own system that allows me to provide basic web site text editing via a web interface for my clients that want to update their own web site content. The CMS's out there are just too complex and too massive to give to a client. Mini-CM is just right.

Another new open-source web application that I can see using more frequently is CiviCRM. I'm doing an install of this for the Atlanta Audubon Society. CiviCRM is Drupal-based, at least in the version I've installed. So, I'm evaluating Drupal as my CMS of choice—assuming that I ever have a client that really needs a massive CMS. Still, CiviCRM meets a real need among non-profits, I think, so I'm tolerating Drupal for the moment. Who knows, I might even start to like it. Or perhaps I'll make the time to develop a standalone interface for CiviCRM

I'm still considering a couple more open-source web applications that could provide benefit, though I'm lukewarm on these:

  • WordPress: A blogging tool. Simple and effective.
  • phpBB: Forum software. I've used this with two clients, both of which have let their forums become stale. So, I'm waiting for the right kind of client before I try it again.

My strategy is to collaborate with web designers and web marketing specialists to create the glue that makes all these pieces integrate together smoothly. I'm developing a stable of experts in each system to help me.


Above article Last updated: 23 December 2005 11:43:37 PM

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