A little bit of the glow from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign win may be shining in Wellington with SilverStripe, the company that built the content management system behind the US Democratic Party website, picking up another award.
Last week, SilverStripe won the 2008 Most Promising Open Source Content Management System in the awards, organised by Packt Publishing, a UK-based publisher of technical books on software and web development.
A book on SilverStripe’s content management system is also about to be published in Germany.
What sets SilverStripe apart from its competitors is its user-friendliness, scalability, and technical elegance, which makes it easy for developers to modify and customise code and the engine behind it, says Sigurd Magnusson, SilverStripe’s sales and marketing director.
A likely contributing factor to winning the award was the company’s big win earlier this year: the CMS system was selected by the US Democratic Party as the platform for its pre-election conference, the Democratic National Convention 2008.
The site featured live video and up-to-date coverage of transcripts, photos and announcements. A team of 20 people was updating the site, and the SilverStripe support team was on duty 24/7 over the week the conference was held, says Magnusson.
A component of the site was streaming video content using Microsoft’s Silverlight technology. Silverlight was chosen by the Democratic Party because of the high-quality video it allows, says Magnusson. Over 350,000 hours of video was watched during the four days, he says.
On another note, a 450-page German book called SilverStripe: The complete guide is to be released in February 2009, says Magnusson. Ingo Schommer, one of the authors, is a SilverStripe employee. A lot of the technical work into the SilverStripe system is done in Germany, Magnusson says.
Winning the award also reiterates how successful the company’s decision to move to open source has been, says Magnusson. SilverStripe, established in 2000, took the leap to open source two years ago, and since then the company has had 100,000 downloads, he says.
The reasons for going open source were both technical and business-related, he says. Making the software freely available has given it a far higher degree of traction, loyalty and goodwill than any marketing campaign could have, he says.
From a commercial point of view, the global uptake of the software has removed New Zealand’s distance barriers, and made the services side of the business more successful, he says. Customers’ trust and confidence in the platform get a boost from seeing the software being used by hundreds of thousands of people across the world, he says.
Magnusson says that open source development is the best way to producing higher-quality software. The more eyes on the software the better, he says. The open channel makes updates come out faster and also keeps the software relevant, as users can express how they want to use the software, and also customise it.
SilverStripe has 20 staff, of which 16 are developers.