Film school sees success with open source CMS

An open-source content management system is saving the Australian Film, Television and Radio School thousands of dollars in up-front licensing fees for its 1500-page Web environment.

The school's Web site manager Natalie Spence said, “We really wanted to get out of static framesets," Spence said, because there is so much information the school needs to provide.

“To do this we needed to implement a dynamic system and allow people to take responsibility for their own pages.”

The school is a federally funded institution based in Sydney with offices around Australia. Data is housed in a Microsoft SQLServer database and IIS is used for Web serving.

“As part of the project we looked at other CMS offerings but, with prices ranging from $20,000 to $100,000, we simply couldn’t afford them,” Spence told Computerworld. “Also, this cost was before customising it for our specific purpose.”

With a number of existing applications running on Macromedia’s ColdFusion, Spence discovered FarCry, an open source CMS written in ColdFusion by Australian company Daemon.

“We paid $15,000 for Daemon’s development services and template creation which was less than the cost of the cheapest purchase price [of other CMSs],” she said.

“FarCry is a totally Web-based interface which is quite flexible. For example, we can now create new course types from the database and can section different pages to contain information in different ways.”

Spence said FarCry is doing “everything we wanted and more”, and because the source code is available it can be “massaged” to suit different needs, and “Its performance is good under load,” she said.

“Although it is possible to do it yourself, Daemon saved us a lot of time in setting it up.”

The school has also started using FarCry for internal HR document management.

Daemon managing director Geoff Bowers said the decision to open source FarCry coincided with the company’s shift to a services-oriented business model.

“There are so many [CMSs] that if your product is free you will at least be given a chance,” Bowers said. “FarCry was commercial and remains the only enterprise-level open source solution written in ColdFusion.”

Daemon previously sold FarCry for $35,000 per server until it was released under the liberal Common Public Licence.

According to Bowers, FarCry competes well with commercial CMSs and is as scalable as “any well-written J2EE application”.

“FarCry supports page and section caching and has a good security model that integrates with LDAP, Active Directory or NT domains,” Bowers said.

“FarCry should run on any platform that supports ColdFusion MX including Windows, Linux and Unix.”

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