The F2 Web Systems Philosophy – Open Source & Proprietary

It is important to note the growth of open-source technologies and their increasing availability and effectiveness, particularly in the field of website content management where there are now many excellent, mature and full-featured systems available for managing websites, such as Joomla!, Drupal, WordPress and TYPO3; each with its own well-supported international development community. The Linux operating system, itself, grew from small, open source community beginnings to become the leading web serving platform throughout the world; and so the availability of advanced, feature rich and stable open source content management systems, with the backing and support of thousands of developers world-wide, therefore makes them an important consideration for any organisation implementing a new website and presents an opportunity to enable these organisations to draw upon the wealth of knowledge that has been accumulated.

Our company has, for over 7 years now, worked extensively and exclusively with the Joomla! content management system (including its predecessor ‘Mambo’), providing design, implementation,  customisation, training, hosting and ongoing support services for our clients in this field. We, as with thousands of developers world-wide, continue to develop and customise the Joomla! CMS framework, implementing a combination of open source and proprietary applications to support our clients’ business management and marketing needs. However whilst we investigate, test and implement a wide range of 3rd party Joomla! extensions on a daily basis, we differ from most other 3rd party Joomla! developers in that our vision is to develop components and web systems for not just one but multiple content management systems, thereby potentially providing for a more flexible, multi-site web services platform and allowing greater scalability and data sharing between websites and web applications; similar to Google’s OpenSocial platform that is the subject of huge international focus regarding multi-site social network integration. Our goal is therefore to ultimately integrate and 'bridge' our proprietary applications into not one but many leading open source content management systems, thereby facilitating better/more convenient application, data and content re-use across multiple CMS framework 'front-ends'.

Our company’s web systems philosophy is therefore to provide solutions for our clients by making use of a combination of open source solutions, starting with the Joomla! 'operating system' with its thousands of extensions, but doing so in commercially responsible and economically viable ways, ensuring that ongoing development is funded and the developers can, therefore, continue to develop and extend their systems. We believe that where development remains unfunded it is unstructured and unsustainable, leading to software that inevitably ceases being developed.  We seek to financially support the developers and development communities of the systems we recommend and implement, and ensure that the license and/or membership costs of each and every application we recommend are built into our project costs.

We also seek to integrate our proprietary 'F2' services with these systems and believe we have a 'SaaS' (Software as a Service) delivery model that is consistent with the way the big players and industry leaders see the Internet and the provision of software evolving. To this end, we make use of the Joomla! CMS for it’s content and 'front-end' presentation capabilities only, preferring to pull complex web services out of Joomla! so that they can be better managed and scaled for multi-site implementations; particularly from a user management perspective. In this way, we feel we are supporting and balancing the accessibility and effectiveness of lower-cost open source systems with commercial reality and the need for software responsibility.

Finally, there are many pros and cons in the open source vs. proprietary software debate, however under both scenarios the fundamental requirement is one of partnership and ongoing commitment. Our company has built up extensive knowledge of the Joomla! CMS by participating with the various developers and development communities around the world. We liaise with 3rd party Joomla! developers all over the globe, from Europe to Africa, and from the US and Canada through to Asia and of course Australia and New Zealand; reporting bugs, discussing possible solutions and requesting new features; however always supporting these developers financially for each and every project that we undertake that makes use of their software and, in so doing, ensuring the continued growth of these well established communities

We therefore look forward to partnering with you in the provision of your organisation’s required web systems and hope this information on our use of open source technologies and our development of proprietary software systems has been useful in enabling you to understand our company's position on the open source vs. proprietary web systems debate.