Anyone who’s interested in responding to our RFP is also invited to be part of a conference call we’re doing tomorrow, December 1, at 2:30 pm central time (US), via Skype. In order to participate, please send me (Mary Hess) your username (at mhess at luthersem dot edu), or ask me to be on your contact list (mine is Hessmary), and I’ll dial you into the call near that time.
Olivier Schopfer, the web editor at the WCC, has offered us some really helpful advice as we consider ways to do the technical infrastructure for our OSRR publishing website. He graciously agreed to let me share it here:
“Now talking about technical aspects from the point of view of our own experience here at WCC: we have been using a content management system called Typo3 for two years now (See www.typo3.org and www.typo3.com). I really think that this framework would be ideal to implement the website you are thinking of. It is a very flexible system, and most of the features that you need are available either as part of the core, or as extensions (there are hundreds of extensions available). The whole system is based on PHP and MySQL. A set of APIs and wizards allows a developer to easily expand or customize existing extensions, or create new ones from scratch.
Here is a set of websites that we developed using Typo3:
- http://library.wcc-coe.org (Our first project)
Among the main features that we use across our websites:
- 1) Localization. One can navigate from one language to the others at any level of the page tree, as long as translations are available.
- 2) News system. Is used for the display of news items on the homepage and various other places and for their distribution by e-mail (at the moment only our weekly summaries). It includes RSS support.
- 3) Events calendar.
- 4) Sitemap and menus are automatically maintained.
- 5) Search engine (we recently moved to a Google based search engine, it’s working fine and unloads our server). We also produce Google sitemaps.
- 6) Database of statements and official documents, with advanced search (our own development). See http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents.html.
- 7) Digital asset management system (for the backend), mostly used to manage photos. See for instance http://www.oikoumene.org/en/events-sections/cc2006/news-media/photos.html
- 8) Discussion forum.
Now, following your requirements:
- 2.1) Localization. See above. There is unicode support, and we have done with some content in Arabic and Hebrew, and entire pages in Greek.
- 2.2) Templating. Design and content are completely separate. Typo3 provides two
ways of templating. The new “templavoila” system is very flexible.
- 2.3) User registration. There is an extension for this, that is quite flexible. We tested it, but don’t use it for the moment as we have another system in place that was existing before we migrated to a CMS.
- 2.4) Statistics. Basic and advanced statistics are available. As everything is
logged, it is quite easy to expand them so that they will fit your needs.
- 2.5) Homepage. See our various examples. The advanced templating system allows
the reuse of some components on the homepage and on some channel pages.
- 2.6) Channel pages. I like the idea of a form to contribute with a translation.
Typo3 has an easy mechanism for implementing online forms that are then sent as e-mails or added to a database table. Access rights for front end users are managed in a very clean way.
- 2.7) Lists of channels. In my opinion, the closest to your idea of “channels” would be an adapted kind of forum/blog. This would bring the flexibility
of lists and so on. But there are other approaches.
- 2.8) Site institutional section. This is standard content, no problem.
- 2.9) Full text search. See above. We implemented Google searches.
- 2.10) Advanced search engine. See above for our advanced search engine related to our statements and documents database. In our experience, developing such a tool is not problematic, as long as the criteria are properly defined. But the real issue is at the other end: categorisation of items needs to be done in a very careful way.
- 2.11) Contribute content. This is obviously where a specific frontend extension will need to be developed. If done with Typo3, I suggest that it could be connected with the digital asset management extension (DAM).
- 2.12) File formats. Along with the Typo3 DAM comes a set of extensions that will
extract the metadata from some of the standard formats, thus speeding up the indexation process, in connection with the advanced search engine. This works particularly well with Word docs, pdfs, jpg images (using EXIF and IPTC fields).
- 2.13) Contribute translation. A great idea! As indicated above, Typo3 is good at connecting different language versions of the same content.
- 2.15) Channel section. No comments.
- 2.16) Send to a friend. Typo3 has a good extension for that, including anti-SPAM
- 2.17) Ranking. There is also a good extension available.
- 2.18) Site control panel. Typo3 provides both a backend and a frontend interface to work on the website. The management of access rights is quite advanced. Rights can be granted for groups and for individuals. They will define the interface, the modules accessible, the data tables that can be viewed/changed, the fields that appear on the forms, the pages that can be edited, the kind of content elements that the users is allowed to create and so on. All the extensions developed within the framework become part of the typo3 security. About languages, there is a nice tool that gives an overview of what is and what is not translated.
- 2.19) Channel control panel
- 2.20) Mailing list system. We use a Typo3 extension called DirectMail. It fits all your requirements. In surplus, it provides interesting statistics about the messages that have been read, and the links in the messages that have been clicked.
- 2.21) Security. See above. Typo3 provides two separate security schemes, one for frontend users, one for backend users.
- 2.22) RSS. See above. RSS is part of the news system. All pages can also be rendered as XML.
Now what about consultancy and expertise?
Typo3 has been created in Denmark, and is particularly wide spread in Northern Europe (especially Germany), less in the US, although it’s changing. The typo3.com website provides links to a number of registered consultants. I can advise you on some that we have been working with, but at the moment, we try to do most
of our developments ourselves.”
The MacArthur spotlight blog has started a series of posts explaining/exploring ways in which credibility is built in participatory environments. Definitely worth understanding in the context of our OSRR project!
Tim Bulkeley posts an interesting reflection on possible implications of open source development for biblical translation.
Here’s a great introduction to Spanish language blogs.
We’re ready! We finally have the request for proposals drafted, translated, and signed off on. You can access it in English and en Español on our website. Please help us spread this far and wide so that we can find that person, institution, organization or group who can build it for us. The deadline for bids is December 15, 2006.