ramblings on PHP, SQL, the web, politics, ultimate frisbee and what else is on in my life

Open source catalog

Optaros, the company I am working for, released an open source catalog which lists close to 300 so called "enterprise ready" OSS applications. I guess most of you reading my blog are not exactly in the target group as to me it mostly seems to be directed about people that lack deep networking into the various OSS communities. That being said I still think that it might be worth a look, even if its just to blog about how we totally got the rating on a specific piece of software totally wrong.

In this updated and web enabled version end users can vote on projects, which is already a first step in the direction of allowing user contributions. I hope we will figure out ways on how to expand this. Again the target group are decision makers that are not so in tune with OSS communities, so we are ok with providing a little less information (if they want all the information they can always use google). However its obviously a bit daunting for a single company, even though we are growing rapidly, to really keeps tabs on the growing number of top notch OSS solutions.

More over community ratings will also help on some of the internal haggling over final ratings. One of the tricky spots during the rating process was figuring out what to rate a given project against. For example Alfresco is a very top notch document management solution, but it also has its foot in other areas. So since its not top notch there, does that diminish the overall rating or do we just rate it for its document management features and only note the others? Alternatively we could split it up but thereby things would become a lot harder to maintain and more importantly it could confuse the users of the catalog. Sometimes the rating was obviously a question of perception as well. If Python as so many stars, then Ruby should have at least as many and why does PHP have 4 stars?!? We faced similar challenges while rating databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL. Each database obviously has some deficiencies compared to Oracle and friends. Then again each of them also has some features these others are missing and with a bit of work you can work around some of the deficiencies. In some cases other people have done the work and this sort of goes into the rating on the community side of things.

Anyways its non trivial, we tried our best and we await your feedback.


Re: Open source catalog

The interface for voting is highly inefficient for mass-voting of items. I'd expect to be able to vote from within the list view and _not_ to have to click away a popup message thanking me for my vote -- each time.

Re: Open source catalog

The disadvantage is that voting is mostly done by developers and open source enthousiasts. This makes the directory almost like a general freshmeat, listing programs like joomla under the 'enterprise CMS' category. While Joomla is a great programm it is not ECMS in the sense that Alfresco is.

Re: Open source catalog

I don't understand the criteria that were used to rank these different enterprise software/components. It looks pretty arbitrary. It's clearly not based on simple quality of the product (or there's no way PHP would get as many stars as Java or Python). I assume it has to do with marketshare too ... ? How did Cruise Control do so poorly and why does Firebug (which I think the world agrees revolutionizes debugging in Firefox) get fewer stars than PHP? Without any explanation for why products are rated the way they are, this just looks like "Optaros' personal preferences" -- which is fine, but completely irrelevant.

So, I think the ratings aren't very helpful, but I think the case studies are very useful.

Re: Open source catalog

I'm not going to beat around the bush - the interface is horrible. Taking the Alfresco page as an example

I have to scroll to see all the description (wtf?)
To the right, Boxes boxes and more boxes, with no contrast differences between them - nothing stands out. It's crying out for an improved information representation.
The most excitement is when I mouse over something and a speech bubble appears - colour!! The pale yellow background colour doesn't do it for me either, and the green clashes with the blue.

Sorry but these are important given your target market. On the flip side, you've got an interesting list there with projects in it I didn't know about, so I've learned something useful :)

Re: Open source catalog

I agree that the test cases are very helpful.

I have been running a less fancy alternative (but still useful): Enterprise Open Source List: http://www.eoslist.com


Re: Open source catalog

Thank you for all the comments. I have passed them on to the relevant people and I am quite sure we can take care of several points raised fairly quickly.

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