May 25, 2005

Entrepreneur finds success in helping open source

Author: Tina Gasperson

Content management systems (CMS) continue to grow in popularity as a way for harried IT directors to delegate some of the labor involved with inserting content in company intranets, Web sites, e-commerce systems, and other Web operations revolving around the concept of workflow. With thousands of options available, it's difficult for a CMS shopper to evaluate those options in a timely way. Now companies looking for an open source CMS have a more efficient way to conduct the search, thanks to OpenSourceCMS.com.OpenSourceCMS.com site owner Scott Goodwin has created a comprehensive interactive listing of open source CMS programs grouped by purpose. The best part is that for every CMS listed, site visitors can log in to a default installation of the program as the administrator and take it for a test drive. The fully functional demo CMS installations automatically re-install with a fresh copy every two hours, so users needn't worry about breaking anything.

Goodwin decided to start OpenSourceCMS.com in August 2002 after his own search for CMS software proved overwhelming. "I was disappointed there was no central location for information," he says. Surprised that no such Web site existed, "I thought it would be beneficial if there was one place I could go to test these things out and get opinions from other users." Goodwin realized that, though many organizations were in need of a content management system, most "didn't know the first thing about them." He'd discovered a niche market.

Proving the adage that one good idea leads to another, Goodwin shortly thereafter launched OpenSourceHost.com, a Web hosting company dedicated to providing installation and support for all of the CMS products on OpenSourceCMS.com.

When OpenSourceHost.com went live, Goodwin was working a day job. But, he says, after about a year, he had plenty of clients and started working on his company full-time and incubating still more ideas for open source companies.

This year, Goodwin launched OpenSourceatWork.com, a venue for webmasters to post projects for which they are in need of programmers. Job seekers with the necessary expertise can bid on projects for free. In fact, OpenSourceatWork.com doesn't charge fees at all. "We decided to offer [it] for free as a way to give back to the programmers of open source software, as well as provide a central location for open source CMS users to post specific needs not met by free modules, blocks, addons, etc.," Goodwin says.

Also started this year was the OpenSourceFund (OSF), an offering that Goodwin says is his most ambitious undertaking to date. OSF is an organization that provides material support for open source programmers in order to advance open source CMSes through the development of add-ons, themes, modules, blocks, and components.  Material support may include money, server space, or both.  The only stipulation is all software developed with the help of OSF must be released under the GNU/GPL license and be free of charge. OSF is funded with 10 percent of the cumulative cash flow from Goodwin's other companies, under the umbrella of the Open Source Collective.

Goodwin says the foundation has only one beneficiary so far, a coder who has done some modules for Mambo and who also happens to be a volunteer at OpenSourceCMS.com. Goodwin says a bigger publicity push is coming soon to make the OpenSourceFund known to a wider audience. "I am a firm believer that you must give back from which you take," Goodwin says. "The Open Source Collective would not be possible without programmers willing to code and release under an open source license. We earn money from the open source community, and it is our obligation to put money back into the community."

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