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Confessions of a Recovering Droomlapress Administrator

by Paulette Stout

After suffering through a particular open source platform for over two years, I have a firm foundation in the many pitfalls of open source web development. I’ll refer to said provider as “Droomlapress,” because truthfully, the problems I encountered are common to many open source CMS providers. In full disclosure, I finally saw the light after beginning my job at Sitefinity. Before then, I hadn’t given much thought to other CMS options, only than mine wasn’t doing what it needed to do.

We begin with our heroine mired in Droomlapress, fighting bugs, glitches, a dated theme, and chained to ridged content templates. I had no budget to address any of these issues. Nor could I address the grossly overdue security updates because the original developer had hacked the core. Modules I wanted to install were either out of date or had bugs and were no-longer being maintained by the Droomlapress community. My site was both vulnerable and stuck. Instead of leveraging the web to advance social media, order processing, and customer service, I was stuck in open source prison. Oh yeah, then there’s the cost issue. I laugh when people reference open source as being free. Perhaps it’s free for Droomlapress aficionados and those versed in HTML enough to implement bug fixes, but I am neither. Consequently, my organization was stuck “making due” until the boss would eventually relent and let me hire a developer to implement our changes. However, if he knew they’d blow-past their budgeted hours by 50%, we probably would have “made due” a bit longer.

If only I had known then what I know now: the problem began and ended with my CMS. Had I, I would have pursued another CMS option; one that provided the flexibility we craved, the mobile features we needed, and a user-friendly interface that enabled me to extend at will. Had I done that, we would have SAVED money. With that as background, you can imagine my surprise when I saw Sitefinity. When I saw the demo, I gasped. Seriously, I gasped. A CMS can do THAT?!? It only costs WHAT?!? I spent way more than that on developers to do work that left me wholly unsatisfied. I felt like a total fool. Like the last person on the street to get a smartphone [Wow, it gets internet!]. You get the picture. If only I had used Sitefinity, I could have customized to my heart’s content. I would have had the flexibility I needed to respond to our changing business demands. I would have saved money, time, and aggravation working with external developers. Knowing what I know now, I want to scream from the rooftops, “Don’t suffer in silence! There’s a way out!” It might sound corny, but please take my advice: before you sink any more money into your “free” CMS, I urge you to explore other options. It will save you money in the long run. In fact, an old phrase comes to mind, “penny wise, pound foolish.” Don’t be pound foolish when choosing your CMS.

-Want a way out? Request a demo from Sitefinity and see for yourself.

Paulette is a Marketing Writer at Telerik, with over 20 years of Marketing and Marketing Communications experience. A former administrator, content creator, and graphic designer using Droomlapress, Paulette has gladly left those days behind and happily gasps daily using Sitefinity.

15 comments

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  1. Frank Dirks Nov 20, 2012
    Hi Paulette,

    Great post. Can you show the website that you were so struggling with? That would greatly contribute to the relevance of this post.

    Best regards, Frank Dirks
  2. Jerry Steele Nov 20, 2012
    I'd like to hear about a specific issue with the open source ecosystem, and how they're solved now. For example, one benefit of the open source ecosystem, at least in my experience, is that bug fixes and release cycles are very fast in coming (faster that sitefinity's, in my experience). Also, there are A LOT of talent and expertise in the open source PHP CMS world...I can find wordpress, joomla, or drupal experts in my area. But I have to go to an agency to find sitefinity expertise, or acquire it in house. Again, I'm not seeing the comparative advantage.

    Also, I wonder if you would also give an example where there was something in an open source tool that required a developer, that doesn't require a developer in sitefinity. You still need technical people to create custom templates and widgets, or design custom modules.

    Your point is taken about the varying quality of plugins and modules, but I'm sure you'll find the same variability in sitefinity's marketplace. How is this ecosystem better.

    I understand you're a Telerik writer, but there's no meat here, only flame bait. It would be helpful to have more depth to allow people to make more informed choices between the open source ecosystem and sitefinity.
  3. Paulette Stout Nov 20, 2012
    @Frank:
    Thanks for your interest. I’m sorry I can’t mention the specific site that caused me so much grief. I’m sure you can understand the delicacy. I’ll try to follow-up with some more specifics. Thanks.

    @Jerry:
    Jerry, you’ve raised a lot of good questions that might best be addressed in a follow-up post. For now, I can best speak to my personal experience with the ongoing control aspect of “that” CMS which did not provide the flexibility I needed to do what I wanted. For instance, within one content type, we had only one option for a page layout. My big WOW moment with Sitefinity was with the drag-and-drop page builder (see the link above) that allows technical novices (like myself) to have control over what would otherwise have been a huge deal to change with my old CMS. One of the coolest things for me was that you actually do not need a technical expert to create a template in Sitefinity. Once you create your custom page by dropping content boxes, resizing by sliding the edges around, etc. you can save it as a template. I didn’t have that option with the other system. The one-size-fits all aspect was very frustrating for me (and my boss), and limited our creativity. That’s just one example, but we’ll try to provide some others. Overall, it’s true that you need developer help to get things set-up and running with both OS and Sitefinity. However, it’s what happens AFTER that phase that makes Sitefinity so compelling for me as a marketing gal!

    Thanks, Paulette
  4. Frank Dirks Nov 20, 2012
    Hi Paulette,

    Thank you for your clarification and thanks Jerry for raising your questions.

    Let me be clear; I think Sitefinity is a great CMS. So are Drupal and Joomla. We choose the CMS per project We evaluate the level of technical capacity of our clients and we evaluate the functionality that is asked for.

    For non technical clients Sitefinity is the direction to choose. For clients with a little more technical expertise Open Source CMS-es have a lot of benefits to our opinion.
    There is a lot of modern web-functionality that is NOT possible to create with Sitefinity (at this moment). There is almost no functionality that CANNOT be create with Joomla or Drupal (at this moment).

    So,... evaluate before you choose or you will suffer. With every CMS!
    Thanks for your Paulette
  5. Jerry Nov 20, 2012
    @Frank agreed...it's often about picking the right tool for the right job.

    @Paulette...thank you for the clarification. It's much more helpful to hear the specific limitation in other tools that you feel sitefinity resolves.
  6. Paulette Stout Nov 20, 2012

    @Frank

    Thanks for your support of Sitefinity. As I said, I can only speak from my experience.  Based on what I had with “Droomlapress,” and what I would have had with Sitefinity, I’d select the latter 10 times out of 10. For me there’s just no comparison.  For those with technological prowess, the possibilities are just as unlimited with Sitefinity as they are with the other OS options.  It’s just a question of preference, features, and usability. BTW, if you encounter a feature you’d like us to add, post it to our Public Issue Tracker forum. Our developers draw from this site when planning releases:  http://www.telergies.com/support/pits.aspx#/main/Release=NextRelease/Product=sitefinity . Thanks so much! Great conversation!

  7. Andrew Marsland Nov 21, 2012
    Hello Paulette,

    Excellent blog post!

    (Full disclaimer - I also proudly work for Sitefinity).

    Firstly, thank you @Frank and @Jerry for your feedback and adding to this discussion.

    What I am most interested is @Frank's comment: “There is
    a lot of modern web-functionality that is NOT possible to create with Sitefinity (at this moment). There is almost no functionality that CANNOT be create with Joomla or Drupal (at this moment).”
     
    @Frank can you please expand and provide examples on what web-functionality you believe is missing from Sitefinity? Are you talking about out-of-the-box type functionality?
     
    Sitefinity was built from the ground up with so many
    benefits for developers:
    - Telerik maintains an entire suite of products focused on developer productivity.  These tools were used to build Sitefinity, and they come included with Sitefinity.
    - Based on .NET technologies so that Sitefinity will be instantly familiar to .NET developers (including: .NET controls, MVC views, .NET data providers, Master Pages, and Themes.)
    - Sitefinity is the _only_ CMS that can switch freely between Web Forms and MVC.
    - Sitefinity’s Module Builder helps you address unique project requirements by letting you define new content types using a web-based interface.  Using this tool you
    can define new data models and then create one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many associations with other content types. (I challenge you to list _any_ open source CMS can empower CMS administrative users to do the same).
    - Sitefinity Thunder is a Visual Studio plug-in that enables developers to access their websites--as well as numerous helpful tools - without ever leaving Visual Studio (this enforces consistency, best practice structure and coding standards – often the biggest problem managing community driven open source development projects).
    - Fully Exposed API so use Sitefinity’s RESTful API (built on WCF services) to integrate your website with external applications.
     
    Please don’t just take my word for it… @Frank and @Jerry
    I would encourage you to contact sitefinitysales@telerik.com
    and request one of our Sales Engineers to present a technical product demonstration. Spend 60 minutes with one of our team and let us fast track your Sitefinity experience!
  8. Frank Dirks Nov 21, 2012
    @Andrew thanks for your reply Andrew. I am working with Sitefinity on 10 to 20 projects. The 'Out of the box' functionality that I miss most are the Userprofiles, Groupprofiles and other Community features. I am sure that you guys at Telligent are very aware of this :) and will come with a great Social Extension in the future.

    I know I am able to code this functionality myself ( Visual Studio / Module Builder) but that is not what this Blog Post is about. Most of the things that you mention needs quite some Technical Experience.

    Thanks for everyone's contribution to this post,
    Frank
  9. Frank Dirks Nov 21, 2012
    @ Paulette I think Sitefinity will be one of the most integrated, user-friendly, extensible and complete CMS-es on the market within a few years. But,.... it isn't yet.

    Telerik has all the capabiltties to create a World Leading commercial CMS. They have great tools, vision, and support. Employees seem very happy to work for them, so all is in place for greatness ;) It just needs more time to my humble opinion, even if they develop and improve Sitefinity at the amazing speed as they have done in the last 3 years.

  10. Grisha 'Greg' Karanikolov Nov 21, 2012
    another Telerik employee here :-)
    @Frank, one thing that we also need and is crucial in the equation is people like you, guys. While we have people like you that provide honest feedback, understand the situation and actively contribute, there is no other way out but to always deliver more than you expected.

    Thank you for the fruitful conversation!
    Greg
  11. Frank Nov 21, 2012
    @ Greg You're very welcome.
  12. Simon Nov 29, 2012
    @Paula

    Interesting perspective and maybe this is one of those cases where the customer is always right :) ?

    Sadly though, you seem to be tarring the entire "Droomlapress" community on the basis of one bad experience caused by an incompetent and/or lazy developer. I've built approximately 20* Drupal sites for corporate clients and not once had to "hack core". 

    Sitefinity does indeed look like a very credible CMS so I'm glad you like it, but the bad experience you've had is in no way indicative of the quality of Drupal, Joomla or Wordpress which are distinct products with distinct communities.

    Any software that is badly implemented by less than competent people is going to provide a sub-standard experience.

    *and maybe another 50-100 (lost count) in a commercial CMS called Immediacy and few more in Joomla & Wordpress
  13. Paulette Stout Dec 03, 2012
    @Simon,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  I know there are many
    people very happy with Droomlapress, but I can only share from my personal experiences which were sadly less than stellar. I would have loved for it to have been otherwise.  You are of course right that the developer-client relationship varies from situation to situation, and not all are bad.  I would have been well served by a developer (such as yourself :) ) that understood the long term  implications of hacking the core, and how that would limit me as the ongoing user.  That said, even when I was able to sort out the mess with a new developer, I found Droomlapress to still lack many of the features that I so love in Sitefinity.  The essence of my particular post was trying to communicate the new empowerment I felt as an, admittedly, non-technical user diving into the site and accomplishing tasks in a very straightforward and easy way.  Stuff that I would have liked to have done—such as creating new page templates, adding modules, and rearranging content
    blocks—I couldn’t without the developer, but can with Sitefinity.  Those may not seem like a big deal, but when
    your boss is all pissed asking why we can’t do something, giving them the answer that we can’t do “X” without paying for a developer doesn’t produce too many rays of sunshine! In fact, I’m having bad flash backs just thinking of it!

  14. RC Dec 07, 2012
    I always think that it's a bad idea to try and promote your own product by slamming someone else's as Paula has done. I've usually been impressed by how Telerik has presented it's products. This post feels a little to 'sleezy' for me.

    Once you start throwing stones at others you need to be prepared to have stones thrown back at you. Sitefinity is by no means perfect (and I'm not going to drop down to the level of pointing out specifics) just scroll through the Forums and you'll see. I hope that Telerik stays on the higher road in the future.
  15. Paulette Stout Dec 07, 2012

    @RC:

    Your post raises an issue that I’ve noticed since joining Sitefinity, that being, that it’s taboo to have a discussion about the relative merits of CMS products for fear of being hit by “stones thrown back at you.” It’s the topic of my blog post from this week called: CMS Wars: Welcome to the Cage Fight, and I welcome your thoughts…

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