Search Results for: intranet

More on the Intranet

I have had several requests to provide more information about the Intranet – and it is something I LOVE talking about. Which brings me to some good and — not bad — but disappointing news. The good news is that I was asked to write an article about the project – the disappointing news – for you all – is that I probably can’t write much about the project here until I’m done with the article.

I can answer some questions though.

Mahalie asked about timeframe and the people involved. I was not doing this project solo – thank goodness!! We started in August and finished in mid-December. By finished I mean finished a functioning product. We are still tweaking and adding features on a daily basis. On January 2 we went to work while everyone was out and made the entire thing live for the staff. So since January 3rd our staff has been using it – not long yet.

Mahalie also asked who the “we” were. Our server is maintained by our IT staff – but they didn’t have to do much because they already had the server set up for the Intranet – mostly they restored backups for us every time we messed things up so badly there was no turning back. My job title is Web Manager and I have one helper (a Web Assistant) who works about 20-25 hours a week with me. Between the two of us we wrote every piece of code (with the exception of the calendar) with the help of online tutorials, my favorite books (Web Database Applications with PHP & MySQL, 2nd Edition, PHP Cookbook and MySQL Cookbook), and my favorite support forums – the Devshed Forums.

That also answers David’s question about what we used – everything was custom built. David also wanted some technical details – I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to share some things like that.

I can tell you that the hardest thing we had to figure out was how to handle the wiki portion of the site. I had no idea how to keep track of all of the changes on each page – at first I thought I’d need several tables in my database – turns out I only needed one.

CREATE TABLE `pgs_content` (
`pageID` int(11) NOT NULL auto_increment,
`title` varchar(255) NOT NULL default '',
`body` longtext NOT NULL,
`user_id` int(11) NOT NULL default '0',
`created` datetime NOT NULL default '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
`version` decimal(10,2) NOT NULL default '0.00',
PRIMARY KEY (`pageID`,`version`)

So each time a page is edited the pageID remains the same but the version is incremented by .01. That way I can make sure only the most recent version shows on the screen by default, but the other versions can be seen by clicking on version numbers on the history page. This is different from other wikis – most of the ones I’ve seen use the title as the primary key – we couldn’t have that on our Intranet because there can be several pages titled something like “General Information” or “Policies” – so I needed to use a number (the pageID).

Anyway, I’m sorry you all have to wait to hear the details – but I’ll keep giving you bits as I can. If you have a specific question feel free to ask me via email nengard (at) gmail (dot) com … if not watch here for some details and when I know more about the article I’ll share it with you all.

Intranet Screenshot #1

Our Intranet

I have uploaded the screenshots for you all to see. They each have comments to explain what you’re looking at. View the show or the set.

I included shots of the blog, the wiki, the search engine, and noted some of the great features like – easily reporting problems to the web team – a menu that follows you everywhere, our shared calendar (powered by ExtCalendar 2) and more. If I have the time maybe I’ll go into detail on how I did things – if you’re curious – feel free to just ask :)




New Intranet

Today the library was closed – so of course I went into work. Why? Well since August I have been working on designing a new (custom) Intranet for work … and it was ready to be made live. Tomorrow when everyone comes into work they’re going to experience an intranet just for them. I’ll have to get some screenshots to share with you all – because if I do say so myself – it is totally awesome!

Every staff member logs into the Intranet and has complete control over almost every bit of content on the site. On our homepage is our Library Bulletin – a blog of my own design that will allow all of the departments to keep the other departments up to date with news and events. In the right column staff members can update their profile (which in turn updates our staff contact, emergency contact, birthday, and phone lists), access and add to the ongoing projects blog, review and add to the Intranet Links Collection – as well as our Research Links, see our online shared calendar … and so much more!

Everything is was written with PHP and MySQL – which allowed me to link a lot of the modules that I had on the old intranet together to make things easier and more efficient for everyone – it also made it so that I could keep track of who was doing what – and when.

I think this new site is going to improve work flow and communication at our library – TONS! And more important (for me at least) it was so much fun to learn how to write a blog – and a wiki – and everything else I wrote for the site. I’ll see if I can get some screenshots this week to share here.

[update] You can find screenshots, articles, screencasts, and presentations here [/update]

ATO2014: How ‘Open’ Changes Products

Next up at All Things Open was Karen Borchert talking about How ‘Open’ Changes Products.

We started by talking about the open product conundrum. There is a thing that happens when we think about creating products in an open world. In order to understand this we must first understand what a product is. A product is a good, idea, method, information or service that we want to distribute. In open source we think differently about this. We think more about tools and toolkits instead of packages products because these things are more conducive to contribution and extension. With ‘open’ products work a bit more like Ikea – you have all the right pieces and instructions but you have to make something out of it – a table or chair or whatever. Ikea products are toolkits to make things. When we’re talking about software most buyers are thinking what they get out of the box so a toolkit is not a product to our consumers.

A table is not a bikeOpen Atrium is a product that Phase2 produces and people say a lot about it like “It’s an intranet in a box” – but in reality it’s a toolkit. People use it a lot of different ways – some do what you’d expect them to do, others make it completely different. This is the great thing about open source – this causes a problem for us though in open source – because in Karen’s example a table != a bike. “The very thing that makes open source awesome is what makes our product hard to define.”

Defining a product in the open arena is simple – “Making an open source product is about doing what’s needed to start solving a customer problem on day 1.” Why are we even going down this road? Why are we creating products? Making something that is useable out of the box is what people are demanding. They also provide a different opportunity for revenue and profit.

This comes down to three things:

  • Understanding the value
  • Understanding the market
  • Understanding your business model

Adding value to open source is having something that someone who knows better than me put together. If you have an apple you have all you need to grow your own apples, but you’re not going to both to do that. You’d rather (or most people would rather) leave that to the expert – the farmer. Just because anyone can take the toolkit and build whatever they want with it that they will.

Two marketsMarkets are hard for us in open source because we have two markets – one that gives the product credibility and one that makes money – and often these aren’t the same market. Most of the time the community isn’t paying you for the product – they are usually other developers or people using it to sell to their clients. You need this market because you do benefit from it even if it’s not financially. You also need to work about the people who will pay you for the product and services. You have to invest in both markets to help your product succeed.

Business modelBusiness models include the ability to have two licenses – two versions of the product. There is a model around paid plugins or themes to enhance a product. And sometimes you see services built around the product. These are not all of the business models, but they are a few of the options. People buy many things in open products: themes, hosting, training, content, etc.

What about services? Services can be really important in any business model. You don’t have to deliver a completely custom set of services every time you deliver. It’s not less of a product because it’s centered around services.

Questions people ask?

Is it going to be expensive to deal with an open source product? Not necessarily but it’s not going to be free. We need to plan and budget properly and invest properly.

Am I going to make money on my product this year?
Maybe – but you shouldn’t count on it. Don’t bet the farm on your product business until you’ve tested the market.

Everyone charges $10/mo for this so I’m just going to charge that – is that cool? Nope! You need to charge what the product is worth and what people will pay for it and what you can afford to sell it for. Think about your ROI.

I’m not sure we want to be a products company. It’s very hard to be a product company without buy in. A lot of service companies ask this. Consider instead a pilot program and set a budget to test out this new model. Write a business plan.

ATO2014: Open Source at Facebook

Faebook and Open Source

James Pearce from Facebook started off day 2 at All Things Open with his talk about open source at Facebook.

James started by playing a piece of music for us that was only ever heard in the Vatican until Mozart as a boy wrote down the music he heard and shared it with the world. This is what open source is like. Getting beautiful content out to the world. Being open trumps secrecy. At Facebook they have 211 open source projects – nearly all on Github with about 21 thousand forks and over 10 million lines of codes. In addition to software Facebook also open sources their hardware. Open source has always been part of the Facebook culture since day 1. The difference is that now that Facebook is so large they are much more capable of committing to share via open source.

Here’s the thing people forget about open source – open source is a chance to open the windows on what you’re doing – “Open source is like a breeze from an open window”. By using open source it means they have to think things through more and it means they’re doing a better job on their coding. Facebook however was not always so dedicated to open source – if you looked at their Github account a few years ago you were see a lot of unsupported projects or undocumented projects. “The problem if you throw something over the wall and don’t care about it it’s worth than not sharing it at all”. About a year ago Facebook decided to get their open source house in order.

The first thing they needed to do was find out what they owned and what was out there – which projects were doing well and which were doing badly. The good news was that they were able to use Github’s API to gather all this information and put it in to a database. They then make all this data available via the company intranet so that everyone can see what the status of things is. Once of the nice side effects of sharing this info and linking an employee to each project is that it gamifies things. The graphs can we used to make the teams play off each other. Using things like Github stars and forks they compete to see who is more popular. Why they’re not optimizing on the number of stars, but it does make things fun and keeps people paying attention to their projects.

Also using the data they were able to clean up their “social debt” – they had some pull requests that were over a year old with no response. This gets them thinking about the community health of these projects. They think about the depth of a project, how they’re going to be used and how they’re going to continue on. Sometimes the things they release are just a read only type thing. Other times they will have forked something and will have a stated goal to upstream it to the original project. Sometimes a project is no longer a Facebook specific project. Sometimes Facebook will deprecate a project – this happens with a project that is ‘done’ or is of no longer of use to anyone. Finally they have in the past rebooted a project when upstreaming was not an option.

After giving talks like this James finds that lots of people approach him to talk about their solutions and find that they’re all coming up with the same solutions and reinventing the wheel. So these groups have come together with the idea of pooling their resources and sharing. This was the way TODO started. This is not a Facebook initiative – they’re just one of 13 members who are keen to contribute and share what they learned. This group is thinking about a lot of challenges like why using open source in the first place, what are the policies for launching a new project, licenses, how to interact with communities, what are the metrics to measure the success of a project, etc etc. What they hope to do is start up conversations around these topics and publish these as blogposts.

Publications & Presentations

If you’re interested in having me come speak for your organization or library, feel free to contact me at .

Below is a list of presentations and publications by me:











Bookmarks for May 16, 2011

  • Cyberlibrary
    CyberLibrary is an Open Source library management system that can be run from anywhere on the internet or an intranet.
  • openbook4wordpress
    When you insert an OpenBook shortcode with an ISBN or other book number in a WordPress post or widget, the OpenBook plugin replaces it with a book cover image and other book data from Open Library. It also adds links to popular book sites, such as WorldCat, LibraryThing, GoogleBooks and BookFinder. Users have complete control over the content and styling of the display through templates. Librarians can configure OpenBook with an OpenURL resolver to point to their library's records.

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Communication w/out email

A few years ago I was all over the place talking about how you can use your Intranet to improve communications within your library. I always said emails were a disaster when it came to project management – now Shareflow has popped onto the scene saying the same thing and offering a solution:


The more you use email, the more work you create for your team. Important information gets lost in the shuffle.

Found via SmashingApps.

My delicious bookmarks for 2009-02-03

  • CiteAlert
    CiteAlert is a service which automatically notifies authors by e-mail soon after their work is referenced in a newly published article on External linkScienceDirect.
  • eBook Hood is your ebook neighborhood. It allows you to convert text and webpages to formats readable on the iPod and other reader devices, share the ebooks and reviews with other readers in the neighborhood.
  • Liferay – Liferay Social Office
    Liferay Social Office is a social collaboration solution for the enterprise. This full virtual workspace streamlines communication, saves time, builds group cohesion and raises productivity. All you have to do is log in and work the way you want to, at your convenience.
  • Liferay – Liferay Portal
    Liferay Portal is all about choice: we give you over 60 tools and a selection of today's most innovative technologies to enable you to do everything from creating websites to building intranets to simply getting the right documents and applications to the right people. See why 60,000 people a month are checking out the product InfoWorld calls the ?Best Open Source Portal? on the market.

More of my links