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Liferay Europe Symposium

On the 16th and 17th of October 2012 the 5th Liferay Europe Symposium took place in Wiesbaden Germany. Some of my employees had already visited this symposium in 2010 and 2011 and both times came back with nice stories. Therefore this time I decided to join them.

Although the symposium was about to start at Tuesday the 16th we already went to Wiesbaden on Sunday the 14th. After a roadtrip of just over 4 hours we arrived in Wiesbaden. The surroundings were stunning: the Taunus mountains full with trees which colors were about to turn from green to yellowish-brown because of the fall. We quickly found our way to the NH Aukamm Hotel.

While enjoying our first beers in the hotel's lobby we were surprised by the 'Liferay people' dropping in. Both Liferay Inc. employees and people from other Liferay-integrators were apprently located in the same hotel as we were. This directly awoke the community feeling inside me. On Monday evening this feeling got even stronger as we joined the official Community Meetup in a bar named 'Coyote's'. I was tricked by its name and expected dancing women on the counter and apparently 120 other Liferay-related people thought so too. It was crowded...

Where the community meetup in 2011 was only attended by about 30 people, this year about 120 people showed up. This led Bryan Cheung and Olaf Kock pacing around in circles where to have all these people seated. After some rearrangement of the chairs and tables, everyone got food and drinks eventually. Time flew and after I found my bed around midnight, I was woken at about 2:30am by my roommate stumbling in. He enjoyed the meetup even longer.

On Tuesday the Symposium started in the spectacular venue 'das Kurhaus Wiesbaden'. I enjoyed some presentations and the great food. Although the topics of almost all presentations were interesting, I enjoyed some more than others. The distinction in presentation skills between Liferay Inc. employees and others was enormous. It got clear to me that most non-Liferay Inc. presenters were not used to present for big audiences. Although I know that Liferay already has a big list of criteria a presenter has to meet for his presentation will get selected (we did the same last year with our talk about 'Liferay deployments using Puppet'),  I think Liferay Inc. should do a better job next year on selecting the right people. That being said, the supplied information was still of big value.

Liferay Europe Symposium 2012 at Kurhaus WiesbadenKurhaus Wiesbaden with Liferay flags

On Tuesday afternoon we had a meeting with Brian Kim, Joseph Shum and Ruud Kluivers on Liferay partnership and the introduction of our new Liferay managed hosting product line Firelay. We also presented the Firelay product line to the other Liferay integrators. The Firelay product line was enthusiastically received on both sides and our Beta Program is under way at this moment. In the evening three of my employees joined the table football competition and although they didn't get to any next round, they enjoyed themselves a lot. 

Wednesday brought again interesting talks. Personally I thought the 'Lightning talks' were very interesting and I would encourage Liferay Inc. to make more room for these technical talks in next year's schedule. The sneek-peek of Liferay 6.2. also brought some exciting things. The extension of the calendar functionality to support multiple calenders is great. I can't wait until it can be synchronized with an Exchange, Zimbra server or alike.

After saying goodbye to the people and the great venue we travelled back. And on our way back my thoughts ran back to my previous blog posting 'Plone is dead, long live Liferay'. The atmosphere, the vision and the people at the symposium strenghtened my belief in Liferay. Oh, maybe the following also helped:

"On our way to Wiesbaden on Sunday the 14th we made a stop in Arnhem were the after Plone Conf 2012 coding sprints took place. I wanted to meet one of my Argentine friends, who I didn't see for about two years. He is a real Plone-addict and I was glad to meet him again. We talked for over an hour about Plone's situation. He confirmed that a lot of people in the Plone-community were anxious about Plone's future. He also told me that during the conference some good ideas were presented to prevent Plone from dying. I really hope some of these ideas will get implemented and save Plone in the end. For Proteon it's too late though. We move on with Liferay, with fire and with Firelay...."

Video Recap of Liferay Europe Symposium 2012

Plone is dead. Long live Liferay!


I came in first contact with Plone about 6 years ago. I had hardly any knowledge about Content Management Systems (CMSs) whatsoever and therefore I was overwhelmed by the out of the box features of Plone. They included WYSIWYG-editing, Live-search, Webdav-integration and full security- and workflow-capabilities. The latter of which I have come to appreciate the most throughout the years.

Next to Plone, which is Python-based, our company also adopted other CMSs as the platform to create websites. These ran from the Java-based OpenCMS to the PHP-based Joomla and Drupal CMSs. Although these other CMSs all had their benefits and nice features, none could compete with the security- and workflow-model of Plone. No wonder Plone is still rated the most secure Content Management System according to Mitres CVE's (source Wikipedia).

So one would expect our company to drop the other systems and exclusively start using Plone, right? Well... wrong! 

My first encounter with the Plone community was in 2006 in Seattle at the annual Plone Conference. Remember Proteon was serious about Plone, so I took the effort to fly all the way from Delft to Seattle to learn more about this exciting CMS. I attended a two days pre-conference training on skinning Plone. It was fun and much less hassle than I was used to using plain HTML and CSS. During the conference I got more and more excited about Plone and especially about its community. All people I have spoken to were smart, technical and had a vision about how to make a successful CMS.

However their vision was mostly focused on the technical aspects of the system and less on the marketing aspects. And IMHO that is when things started to go downhill.

In 2007 we went with a total of four people to the Plone Conference in Naples. Great city, great food, but less great news. I started to hear the same stories as the year before all over again. Most people in the community were focussing on technical implementation: 'How to implement the same functionality but now even smarter?'. Instead of spending time on implementing new features the market was demanding for, the community started to re-implement the same functionality again. And yes, that led to Plone being the most secure open source CMS even today.

In 2008 the Plone Conference was organized in the US, again, so we decided to skip that year's conference and re-visited the Plone Conference in 2009 in Budapest. And again it was -almost- the same story as in Naples: great city, less great news. The only thing differing was the quality of the food, which was way better in la bella Italia. At the conference my colleague Lex van Sonderen and I tried to get the discussion going about how to make Plone future-proof. To us it was apparent that Plone needed much more social-features and 'marketing sexiness'. At first the community members seemed interested, but in the end  they couldn't make it happen.

Yesterday I stumbled across the following article titled 'Plone: the second decade' by Eric, the release manager of Plone 4. In short the article describes the decline of Plone as I have experienced it myself throughout the years. Eric calls upon the community members to unite and make Plone strong again. He is convinced that Plone's community has the right members to do so. I am afraid that the lack of non-technical-visionary people in the community will eventually lead to the premature death of Plone instead.

I am glad that from the Plone Conference 2009 on we as a company have decided to look ahead, to a new open source technology to replace Plone in the long run. And we have found one: Liferay! Although Liferay is more a portal-based system than CMS, it features all the things Plone does and more...

Liferay has all the social features you can imagine, fully integrates in a Single Sign-On environment and has great workflow features as well. It comes out of the box with so many features that I was impressed again which had never happened with OpenCMS, Joomla or Drupal. All these features come with a downside: some are still a bit 'rough' and leave power-users with some additional features to wish for. But hey, that is what integrators are here for!

The number of Liferay-integrators has grown explosively throughout the last years. Just recently the Liferay Marketplace opened and integrators are starting to release their additional plugins now. So Liferay gets better each day! This year Proteon will attend the Liferay Europe Symposium 2012 in Wiesbaden. We will make sure to talk with the people there about how to keep the 'sexiness' and technical-strength of Liferay alive; to prevent the same things from happening to Liferay in the future as they happened to Plone today.


And if you think we had a quiet summer... are wrong, there's always lots to do!

I would like to continue to chat a bit about our Liferay activities because, wow, this application is booming! During the last couple of months we have had contact with people from a lot of different countries (see map below) asking us for help on Liferay Managed Hosting. Combining our expertise on Liferay and our knowledge on Managed Hosting, has started us to work on some new Liferay Managed Hosting solutions that will be in “the Cloud” pretty soon! We will keep you posted.

liferay requests

Bottom line: Liferay is growing in the Benelux fast and this summer showed me just how much.

Like the last two weeks for example. I think I've been contacted about 5 times per day by all sorts of recruiting agencies looking for Liferay-consultants. Not only do they ask if we can supply them, yes we can, but they even got so cheeky asking us where they can find them themselves directly. Making me wonder: 'Isn't that your challenge as a recruiter?' Come on, be creative! 

It all began 3 years ago... I was working hard @ my previous job and hadn't exercised for ages. So, I joined a gym and got myself into a cool boxing-class. It was such a refreshing group of people, from bike-builders, business consultants, cartoon makers to construction workers. We all tried to kick each-others butt and make sure we had a good workout! This boxing class was an example on how an organization should be: all kinds of people (young, old, university degree, college drop-out, rich, poor) - it didn't matter. We all connected because we had the same goal: getting fit! No politics, everyone was equal, just fair fights! But if you lacked energy or enthusiasm you would feel it for the next coming days...

If only organizations would be more like this. Think about the common interest, not about making money or the creation of power. Getting fit soon meant: having Friday-night drinks and socialize and started getting connected outside the gym. The goal 'changed' over the years (businesses do too!). Then when I wanted to change work, a member of the boxing group happened to be a part of Proteon and here I am. But not only here 'I am', a couple of months later another member was switching to start her own business. She wanted to built a community-site for her business and here we are just a week before the launch of, a really cool Liferay web portal.

Sport connects people... I think this is also very much visible @ the Olympics right now. So, there you go recruiter: think outside the box, be creative join a Sportsclub, think about a common interest, get people enthusiastic about Liferay and our consultancy-network will grow! Smart people will be the product of good education programmes. Therefore we should start @ educational level. Where else could the future talents come from? Proteon has made a small step and is proud to be an official SURF- supplier. Let's hope universities and institutes will adopt Liferay and help create more Liferay consultants in Europe! So we all will benefit from this in the future.

Proteon presenting Liferay

So enough about me. Did you know there is a new Liferay Portal CE release and that the marketplace has been launched? We are very excited and already updated a couple of our projects to the latest 6.1.1 CE-release. We did some work on the Dutch translation for this Liferay 6.1 CE GA2 and we challenge other 'duchies' to help!  What else? Hmm... let's think: back to the Olympics: London, England... Proteon goes England! Wieteke is going overseas next week to work on a very cool Liferay project! Goodluck over there!

That's it for now, I wish you all a pleasant return of your summer break! Hope you had just as much fun as I did.

Be creative, connect and share!

Liferay Netherlands User Group Event 2012

Liferay Netherlands User Group Event, 7th of june 2012

When I started working for Proteon in January I had no idea what Liferay is and what kind of business I was getting myself into. I can remember that one of the first weeks Wieteke started talking about the Liferay User Group and how we would organise events every year to get all the Liferay-fans together.
As I would also organize events at my past job I was really enthusiastic and offered to help organise the 4th event.
The first discussion was the name of the event since we have an official Liferay Netherlands User Group and it's nice to have an abbreviation for your twitter feeds, invitations, and so on.
'Liferay Netherlands User Group' or 'Liferay NL-User-Group'.  'LNUG' or 'LNLUG' ?  We made the decision to stick with 'LNLUG' just because it's so hard to pronounce it's actually funny. We were constantly making weird faces when we are talking about the event.
Getting an event together is sometimes difficult because you want to make it free for your community but you need good facilities which can make it costly. Thanks to the help of some great sponsors we made it happen. The sponsors in alphabetical order:
Drakkar, Finalist, iProfs, NLCom, Proteon, Rotterdam CS & Xebia
To have a good program to attract attendees you depend on interesting cases and presentations. So thank you for your time and preparation:
Open Square & PnPro, Rotterdam CS, Burenhulpcentrale, Drakkar, Xebia, NLCom, Zorgportaal Rijnmond, Liferay Benelux.

So the 4th event turned out to be a succes. The community had become bigger. We ended up with almost 60 attendees. 

The LNLUG started with a presentation from Ruud Kluivers, the first official Liferay Benelux Business manager. He has great plans to make sure Liferay will be better represented in the Benelux. He's looking for strong partners and tactical events to get Liferay on the Dutch map. 

Then the break-out sessions started with a technical track and a business track. There were also some Open Spaces where people could discuss cases.

Presentations went from Neighbourhood-communities to Healthcare portals, from online-fitnesscommunity to integrations with back-end systems for jobsearch companies, Liferay is used in many cool and different ways! See for yourself in some of the presentations on the official LNLUG wiki on the Liferay site. The event ended with drinks and snacks. Most likely this is the part of the day most people were looking forward to. I believe that a lot of business deals in the Netherlands are made while enjoying Beer and 'Bitterballen'.

So to finish where I started. Do I know what kind of business I got myself into? Liferay has such a huge range of possibilities, I will probably never know... But there are great developers, consultants, system administrators, project managers and many more smart people working with Liferay. So whenever I'm stuck, I can reach out to the community.
And that, I've learned, is what Liferay is all about!

LNLUG event participants

Group photo with some of the attendees at LNLUG 2012 in Amersfoort, Netherlands

My experience at Proteon


This time, I was asked to write a blog. Even though I am not a skillful writer, writing this blog should not be a problem especially since the fact that I am an intern at Proteon since January this year. During my internship I gained quite a clear picture of what Proteon is and what Proteon does and I therefore hope to write an interesting blog about my experiences at Proteon. 

I started my marketing internship at Proteon on the 23rd of January 2012. I remember that day very well, I came into the office, having no idea of what to expect. To be honest, if you would have asked me what Proteon was all about, ‘Something with IT’ was probably the best answer I could have given. Anyway, I came in and was friendly greeted by my colleagues. Then, Wieteke took a lot of time to explain to me what Proteon is and does and even though she was doing a great job, after a few sentences I was feeling lost.

Even during lunch, where we used to eat together, they were enthusiastically talking about Puppet, MySQL, Liferay, managed hosting, Open Source, Content Management Systems, etc. You can probably imagine that it was still Chinese to me at that time. Hence, after a long first day in Delft, I went home with my head full of technical terminology. At that point only thinking: Wow, never knew this ‘IT-world’ was so complicated. Fortunately, Wieteke and all my other colleagues were very patient with me and the following days I spend a lot of time reading about Proteon which helped me to better understand it.

Something I noticed and really liked to see during my time here was the fact that Proteon can be proud of its employees. The employees work together in an enthusiastic and passionate way, functioning as a real team with a strong team spirit. Besides this, everyone is dedicated to his work which is a great benefit for the customer. During my research, I was confirmed concerning this matter and I found out this ‘going-for-it’ team spirit was one of Proteon’s major strengths.

During the first month at Proteon I have done diverse activities, mainly in research. From the second month onward however, I have been working on my final project. My final project was on marketing, it was about potential target groups for Proteon and Proteon’s market position. Wieteke was a great supervisor during this time. I also liked having brain storming sessions with Wieteke and Marije for the first chapters of my final project. This was a great contribution giving new insights and ideas. Some aspects of this project were more difficult than others, but after three months I can say that I finished with a nice report on this issue.

Lately, I was thinking about the time I spent here and I can say that I definitely learned a lot during this time. I learned a lot about the way of working at Proteon, the IT branch, the research I did, the way I had to deal with problems I encountered. It was challenging but worth it.


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Welcome to Proteon's blog

This is where the Proteonen will share their experiences, mention their thoughts and explain their work. We love our jobs and talk about it all the time. Now it's time to write some of it down and share it with you. 

Proteon uses Open Source software to host, manage and develop web applications for our customers. Our favorites are Liferay, Plone and Drupal but we use many more to support our work like Puppet and Pentaho. We're also fans of Agile, Scrum and KanBan. Therefore these will be the most mentioned topics in our blogs but in the end all of them are about Proteon and what we do.