Forum OpenACS Development: we need a "Why OpenACS" link on the front page

We have an About OpenACS box on the front page, and that has
-What is OpenACS?
-History of OpenACS
-Web site credits...

I think we need to have a "Why OpenACS" link, or even better, as the main text just under the "WHAT is OpenACS" and before the "Where can I get it" text (thus motivating it).

I have had a lot of trouble explaining to people who would be candidate users or developers the main exciting points about what the toolkit brings; so I open up to the group to comment on my proposed points below and to add to them. The main idea is that I would want (as a casual visitor) a list of maybe 4-7 _concise_ things that the toolkit brings to the table.

Why Openacs?

-Complete web toolkit solution: handling of users, groups, email notifications, content ownership, plus well integrated and tested components such as forums, bug-tracker, advanced subsite creation, etc.
-Modular: you can add and subtract non-core components and write your own easily
-Advanced permissions allows fine-grained document- and object-level control of permissions; group permissions are 'composed' (i.e. inherited); and content ownership and control can be enforced by a unified system
-High performance script and db-backend supports complex pages such as portals/portlets and heavy-use forums
-Strong community means that there are people who know and can discuss development and core technology issues while one is developing using the toolkit; the community has a well-developed identity at and has continuity of leadership and vision, more than can be said for 99% of other web toolkit/CMS/forum software/weblog development projects


Anyone feel that the front page does not need more of a 'hook' summary for the casual postnuke/phpnuke visitor?

Posted by Lars Pind on

I totally agree we need this. Thanks for taking this on.

We should probably ask some of the OpenACS users/sponsors such as MIT, Greenpeace, Heidelberg, etc., what their motivation for choosing OpenACS is.

To your list I'd add integrated suite of compelling collaborative applications (ouch for a sentence).


Some blurbs I can remember

- "Mandantenfähig" (just know the german SAP term). System is capable of serving multiple departments from one code base.
- Scalable (at least it has proven to)
- Clear division of application logic and design
- Database independent (at least support for it)
- Multilingual with new languages coming up every couple of weeks.

Posted by Barry Books on
I picked acs over 3 years ago after reading an Arsdigita quote "ACS will save you 1 million in upfront development costs" or something like that. I had run aolserver/informix before that but when my Sun died I switched to NT/access/asp or NAA. At the time I owned, and worked for an ad agency. My biggest problem with asp is you can't write reusable code so I started looking around and found ACS.

At that time there was really nothing else but now servlets and most likely .Net have similar base functionality. I don't know much about .Net but I currently use servlets and I've used PHP.

Linux, Apache, Mysql and PHP (LAMP) users might have some interest. From a technical standpoint LAMP is about the same as NAA. I personally don't like Mysql because I don't understand it's liecense agreement. The great thing about LAMP is there it's easy to install and get something to work. You can also host it anywhere cheap. The later is a big barrier to OpenACS.

Jboss is also a very interesting project and if I were picking now I might pick Jboss. The problem with java is simple things are not simple. The pluses are good XML handling and it's pretty fast. The minuses are it's compiled (big minus) and it's strongly typed (bigger minus IMHO).

So what was my point? I still think OpenACS is the best blend of simple and scalable. The api-doc, database api, packages and templating system are it's best features. It comes with a set of packages that serve both as real apps plus examples. It's perfect for a small web development shop that hosts many sites that need more than just HTML.

I think one "feature" to stress is the user-focused nature of OpenACS. Most other toolkits are mainly focused on content. OpenACS has tools to manage content, but everything is derived from a user perspective. I found this description of OpenACS at a CMS information site:

Open Source web application toolkit designed for highly interactive user focused sites.
I would provide a link, but the site appears to be down. So I think all the bullet points should address how OpenACS fufills that description.

There have been many discussions over the months about this in the organization I am working with also. Anything that distills these points can help bridge the gap.