Building a Community to Foster Open Source Principles
Open source is more than just a software development model, it’s a way of looking at the world that emphasizes transparency, collaboration, and diversity. By working together and openly sharing our ideas with the world, the open source philosophy offers a way to more effectively solve difficult problems and reveal new possibilities for making the world a better place.
Opensource.com is a new site from Red Hat, the trusted open source leader, that explores the different ways that the open source way is already having a positive impact on business, education, government, and our daily lives. It is designed to be a community of purpose that brings together people who believe in sharing knowledge, collaborating to solve problems, and furthering intellectual freedom.
To achieve their objectives for the site, the team at Red Hat chose to work with open source tools and companies that shared this vision of open collaboration. Opensource.com is built, appropriately enough, on the open source social publishing platform Drupal. Drupal’s unique ability to combine content and community seamlessly in a unified experience made it a natural choice as the technology platform to support social publishing objectives of opensource.com.
Understanding the importance of working with organizations that support open source technologies, Red Hat chose Acquia to help them ensure their success with Drupal. In turn, Acquia tapped Palantir, an Acquia Platinum partner, to bring their Drupal expertise to the project and build the opensource.com site.
“After choosing the Drupal platform, Acquia was an obvious choice for Red Hat. We wanted Drupal experts to help us deploy opensource.com,” said Jason Hibbets, project manager, People and Brand, Red Hat.“Using a subscription model similar to Red Hat, our focus can remain on the site and Acquia keeps our platform updated and secure.”
Using Drupal’s Built in Functionality to Build a Community
Leveraging as much of Drupal’s built-in functionality as possible, Palantir developed an environment designed to support a large community of visitors and contributors. Drupal’s native flexibility and core features made it possible to build a powerful, feature-rich site with a minimum amount of custom code required. Palantir worked closely with the team at Red Hat to implement the site’s design and technical vision.
Opensource.com allows users to relate their open source experiences through five different channels: business, education, government, law, and life. Using Drupal’s Organic Groups module, Palantir was able to give each channel a unique look and feel while at the same time blending in with the overall branding of the site. It also made it possible for each channel to have its own moderator that would manage user- submitted content. The site is also configured to allow new channels to be added as the site’s community grows and evolves based on audience feedback.
With a multitude of users contributing content to the site, opensource.com requires a versatile user management system. Site administrators have the ability to assign roles to site contributors that allow them to either publish stories without moderation or submit articles that will need moderator approval before they can be published. Contributors can submit images to the site for publication alongside different articles. Captions can be associated with these images for descriptive purposes as well as sourcing information.
A large number of site contributors also ensures a high volume of content being submitted to the site on a daily basis. Palantir was able to streamline opensource.com’s content moderation process by using Drupal’s Workflow module. This makes it possible for users to submit content, then have that content reviewed by a moderator before finally being published to the site.The homepage content on opensource.com further illustrates the site’s sophisticated content management capabilities. Articles can be flagged by channel moderators and then appear in a view for homepage promotion. Site administrators can then individually select which articles will appear on the homepage by choosing from this list of suggestions.
To encourage a dialogue between site visitors, Palantir used Drupal’s Flag and Views module to make it possible for site administrators to highlight specific comments that may be particularly insightful or thought-provoking. These comments then appear in a featured content box on each channel’s landing page. Other featured content boxes include polls, a list of the site’s most popular articles, a Twitter feed, and taxonomic browsing encourage additional site interaction.
Since the site’s content will be coming from such a variety of contributors, opensource.com needed a way for users to quickly and effectively search the site’s content. The solution was provided by Acquia Search, a cloud-based search service from Acquia which delivers Apache Solr search as a plug-and-play hosted service. Acquia Search gives visitors to opensource.com a multi-faceted site search experience that filters results by content type and author, ensuring that no piece of site content is far from reach. In addition, opensource.com is hosted on Acquia Hosting, Acquia’s managed hosting service that is Drupal-optimized for large, high performance sites.
Extending Open Source Principles Beyond Technology
“The purpose of opensource.com is to highlight how the open source way is being applied beyond technology. Our success will largely be based on contributions and community participation,” said Hibbets.“Palantir and Acquia were able to listen to our requirements and build the foundation for opensource.com. Their combined experience helped us create an Acquia Drupal-based solution using agile development methods to bring the website to life within our timeline.”
Opensource.com is a community that aims not only to define the future of open source, but to help individuals come together to harness it as a force to change the world. Both Palantir and Acquia believe that the best way to solve complex problems is through open collaboration, and we are proud to be a part of the effort to empower and enable people to make their own communities better places through the use of the open source model.
About Red Hat, Inc.
Red Hat is the most trusted open source provider and the most recognized Linux brand in the world. We offer enterprise customers long-term plans for building and advancing infrastructures based on quality and innovations only possible through open source. We combine the leading open source operating system platform, Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, with applications, management, virtualization, and service- oriented architecture (SOA) solutions, including JBoss® Enterprise Middleware and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. We also offer global support, training, and consulting services that help enterprises take full advantage of the value of open source technology. Learn more at www.redhat.com.
Palantir.net is a Chicago, Illinois-based firm that develops award-winning Web sites, database applications, interactives, and software for educational, cultural, not-for- profit, and corporate clients. Founded in 1996, Palantir provides agile development, user experience design, architectural consultation, and training services for the Drupal content management platform. Please visit www.palantir.net for case studies and further information.
Acquia is a commercial open source software company. We provide a valuable set of software and network services for the popular Drupal open source social publishing system. At Acquia, we maximize the potential of Drupal-powered solutions through our annual subscriptions for software and services. For more information about how Acquia can transform your community driven web investments, contact Acquia Sales at firstname.lastname@example.org, 888-9-ACQUIA or +1-978-296-5250.
“The purpose of opensource.com is to highlight how the open source way is being applied beyond technology. Our success will largely be based on contributions and community participation.”