Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why did we use Plone for

I've had a few questions over time as to some of the specifics about and I'm going to start providing answers. Here we go with the first question...

Way back on August 7th, John Kavanaugh asked:
Why didn't NASA use the eTouch CMS that the rest of NASA's portal runs on?
To explain what John is talking about, he means the NASA portal (, which is based on the commercial Java based CMS called eTouch. The portal contains a lot of content, and also serves as a nexus for the myriad of NASA sites hosted by various NASA centers (JPL, Goddard, etc) and organizations (Science Mission Directorate, Space Operations, etc).

On to answers!

First off, from what I understand, the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) started developing the Plone version of before the portal was announced internally at NASA. By the time eTouch became known, we were well down the path of development, including integrating 1200+ articles and images. For various reasons the new portal launched first.

Second, SMD had a lot of very precise requirements and wanted to be able to get a lot of specific customizations to the project. Adding into the fact that we had already started on data migration and site design, and SMD felt that staying the course was the right way to go.

Third, and this comes from the business people, the portal project and our project come from two pools of money. The portal's pool is for providing a gateway for the public into NASA, and our pool is providing a gateway to Science at NASA. These are similiar yet different concepts, and allows each group to focus on what they do best. We link to each other, and that makes perfect sense.

Fourth, we are working with the Portal group to improve NASA Science. They are great folks and we applaud their work! I can't go into specific details into what we'll be doing but I will state that most of it is infrastructure and support.

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