Sense/Net 6.0

Workspace alternatives: a comprehensive comparison

Teamwork isn’t an easy sport: the bigger the team the harder it gets. If the goals/milestones are set clear, one person will probably complete the project just fine. If it’s a team of two they’ll probably split up the work, track each other progress and finish in time. If its one of three, four or five they’ll probably start calling meetings, send emails, update their progress. If it’s a team of over 20, there’ll probably be people working full time just managing the communication between teams.

As the team grows the overhead of coordinating work just increases. I’m sure everyone has realized at some point that emails and Excel sheets are quite limited at managing things as the project grows and sticky notes work good, but not with distributed teams.

Of course lots of others have realized this problem before and created software to aid this process: these tools are usually referred to as project management tools or (virtual) workspace solutions. The idea of these is to have users store and update documents in the workspace, be able to constantly track their and others’ progress and make collaboration easy in this space. There are lots of promising workspace solutions: when first searching I came across at least two dozen seemingly good products/services.

One of the most efficient and popular way to help manage comlpex projects is by providing workspaces to users – a common shared storage area related to a specific task. Users can upload and share documents related to the project to the workplace, collaborate with other users involved in the project and track what is going on in the workspace.

Back in September 2009 while I took up the task to test the major players in workspace management fields so that the company would have a picture of where their workspace module was on the market. This study never got published however while doing the research I didn’t find any useful comparisons that were not funded by some vendor. I’ve left Sense/Net in October 2009 and decided to publish my research as it might be a good guideline for someone looking for a short list of project management tools.

The products evaluated in this comparison are Central Desktop, Huddle, Office Live WorkspacesO3Spaces, ProjectPlace, ProjectSpaces, Sense/Net 6.0 and Sharepoint 2007. Evaluation criteria is detailed and is grouped into general overview, document management, collaboration and content publishing categories.

General overview
Central Desktop Huddle Office Live
Work
spaces
O3
Spaces
Project
Place
Project
Spaces
Sense
/Net 6.0
Share
point
2007
SaaS solution Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Self Hosted No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Price estimate for small team (3-10 people,3-10 workspaces) $25-50/month $15-38/month Free with MS Office license €15-65/month (€177-790/year) $80-270
/month
$79-129
/month
Free (open source) $4800+
one-time
fee
Price estimate for mid-large team (50-150 people, 50-150 workspaces) $500-1500/month $200+/month, price provided upon request Free with MS Office license
Workspaces
€250-1000
/month (€2950-11850
/year)
$1100-3500
/month
$399-749
/month
Free (open source) $9500-
19500+
one-time fee
Detailed pricing See details See details See details See details See details See details See details See details
Company response time for e-mail inquiries * Within days Within days Within hours Within hours Never Within hours Within hours Within days

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Open Source ECM implements AD synchronization

Sense/Net 6.0, the .NET Open Source Enterprise Content Management System has released its latest, Beta 4.3 version with Active Directory synchronization implemented. This is a small feature addon to the Beta4 version of the software, which among others implemented workspace support probably first in the open source .NET ECM world.

You can see the original announcement on the Sense/Net development blog and you can download and play with the newest release from the Sense/Net project on Codeplex.

Why I couldn’t compare Goliath with David: Vignette with Sense/Net

I’ve recently written a blog post on Sense/Net being an open source alternative of Vignette v8 based on the preview video on Vignette v8 available online.

Stating that Sense/Net 6.0 is an alternative for Vignette v8 does sound really bold though. Vignette is (well, was, until Open Text acquired it) a company on NASDAQ with over 600 employees with an annual revenue well over $200M while Sense/Net is a company of 45 and an annual revenue of about $2M. Vignette probably spends 10x more money on R&D than the total annual income of Sense/Net. What are the chances that Sense/Net can make a software even comparable to Vignette? Practically nothing.

The reason however that I made this statement is because I couldn’t prove the other way round – that Vignette is far more advanced than Sense/Net. The easiest way would have been to place the two products next to each other and evaluate them (actually this is what some vendor neutral companies like CMS Watch or J.Boye do in the forms of reports). As a simple developer/blogger though I didn’t have that option. An evaluation version of Vignette is not available for me – or even my company: we are just too small for a such a giant. So that left me to compare with the sources Vignette provided: the video and their webpage. And based on this pretty much the same functionality can be achieved with our open source software. If you are a developer you can even install the portal featured in the video and try our yourself.

I know that the comparison is not fair at all and that Vignette has a huge number of features that Sense/Net does not. I would love to get more information on Vignette to have a better comparison so if there is any publicly available data/demo other than on the Vignette v8 page, please let me know.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the core team developing Sense/Net 6.0.

Sense/Net 6.0 Beta 4 is out

On 24th July we released the Beta 4 version of Sense/Net. This version includes two important added features compared to the previous release:

  • SmartBuilding support – until this version Contents in the site could not be adressed directly, e.g. the content yoursite.com/Products/Camera-Sx-410 could only be viewed on a page with an URL someting like this: yoursite.com/ProductViewerPage?Content=Root/Products/Camera-Sx-410 With SmartBuliding. From now contents can be addressed directly and viewer pages are assigned to content in a smart way using theSmartApplication model
  • Workspace support – collaborative project workspaces can be created sharing memos, documents, deadlines an an activity log of who has been doing what.

The Beta 4 release was actually the result of rapid development – from planning to finish it took about a month – and this was the first release of Sense/Net that arrived on time as we planned to. 24 July was the deadline we set for ourselves and we managed to keep to that – and this was the first release where we used the MSF methodology as strict as possible.

To see a more detailed announcement of the Beta 4 read the blog post on the Sense/Net ECMS development blog.

Drupal addons vs Sense/Net features

Recently I’ve been creating a list of useful addons for Sense/Net which the community would find useful. To get an idea I started looking at some open source CMS projects with heavy community participation. I started the list with Drupal and to my surprise among the top 40 extensions I found plenty of which are core features of Sense/Net. These are the following:

  • Views
  • Content Construction Kit
  • Pathauto
  • ImageField, FileField
  • Webform

You can read the full article on the Sense/Net devblog.

CMS Vendor Meme – the Sense/Net Response

About two weeks ago ECMS vendor Day started off a smaller lavina in the CMS vendor blogosphere by completing the reality checklist published by CMS Watch and tagged some other vendor to have them complete it as well.

As of now more than 20 vendors have completed this checklist. Even though Sense/Net was not tagged once we heard of this meme, we decided to fill out the test and evaluate ourselves as well. You can see the Sense/Net CMS Vendor meme results here.

How to resample images – a simple algorithm

When working with images I sooner or later usually run into the problem of creating thumbnails. Resampling images is not really difficult in the major programming languages however I have not found built-in support for caclulating thumbnail dimensions neither in .NET nor in PHP. And it seems that this made me re-invent the wheel over and over again creating codes with various lengths just for this simple task.

In Sense/Net 6.0, the open source ECMS I am working on I came across the exact same problem: I wanted to resize images, this time on the fly. This time however I decided to do it a bit less complicated as in previous cases and create a clean and simple solution. After a good deal of googling, tutorial reading and planning I came up with a fairly simple and good code snipplet.

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