Open-source community drives Liferay portal
About eight years ago, Brian Chan was scouting around for Web portal software to develop a Web site for his church. But everything available was prohibitively expensive.
Chan, an engineer, founded Liferay, an open-source portal available for free download at www.liferay.com.
Crafted by a community of about 50 active developers, Liferay is honed by user tips and suggestions through e-mail, wikis, instant messaging and message boards.
Anyone can report a bug or contribute a suggestion, said Chief Executive Officer Bryan Cheung. For example, a group recently conferred about a bug over Jira, a Java EE Web-based bug-tracking application developed by Atlassian Software Systems. 'When we got a final solution, we cleaned it up and added it to the product,' Cheung said.
Cheung says he doesn't really know how many people are working on Liferay. 'We find out later that people have done all these tremendous things.'
Liferay receives about 40,000 downloads a month, more than any other open-source portal.
Staff members from the Colorado Department of Human Services stopped by the Liferay booth at the Novell BrainShare conference. They told Cheung that the key success factor for them was that they could customize Liferay extensively, in contrast to what they had been using, Novell's exteNd portal. With exteNd, if they wanted to submit a change, they'd have to wait until the next release.
This summer, Liferay's virtual community will get a chance to meet off-line. The company is hosting a gathering of Liferay enthusiasts July 18 in Los Angeles.
Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.