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Discussion: Pitching DocPad to enterprise #634

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dwynne opened this Issue Sep 5, 2013 · 30 comments

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dwynne commented Sep 5, 2013

We recently rebuilt http://red-badger.com using DocPad and had a fantastic experience doing so. Red Badger is a software consultancy and we tend to work with quite large corporate organisations. We want to convince them that should opt to head in the static site generator direction for new projects (where suitable) rather than plump for the "tried and tested" CMSs like Drupal.

The issue is that large corporates don't like risk. And if they don't understand something or feel that they're doing something no-one else is doing, then they get worried and back away.

This puts us in a catch 22 situation. We know they often don't need the complexity of a large CMS, but we also know that if we try and recommend something else (like DocPad) we face an uphill battle convincing them it's the right choice and that they should award us the work.

I suspect I am not the only person in this situation and as such would like to collectively build a case for statically generated sites that we can all use when pitching for work. What do we need to do that?

We need examples of large or significant sites that have chosen to go the CMS-less route. Doesn't have to be DocPad - any static site generator will help.

Some examples:

What are not good examples?
As much as I like our site and many of the examples on docpad.org - they aren't significant enough to convince a large corporate it's the way to go for them. Nor are personal blogs or homepages.

Frankly I'm struggling to build a case, which is a real shame because I strongly believe that the simpler approach of DocPad is suitable for so many sites that instead choose a life of complexity and vendor lock-in.

If anyone can help provide some more high profile examples, then I hope we can provide a really useful resource for those us trying to convince customers to embrace CMS-less approaches.

Thanks,
David.


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greduan commented Sep 5, 2013

Does this work for your needs? http://docpad.org/docs/showcase

Adobe and Microsoft already used DocPad for a couple of their websites.

dwynne commented Sep 5, 2013

I did link to that page under my 'non-examples' heading. Unless I'm
mistaken they don't really fall into the criteria of "large or significant
sites" as good as they are.

On 5 Sep 2013, at 18:35, "Eduán Lávaque" notifications@github.com wrote:

Does this work for your needs? http://docpad.org/docs/showcase


Reply to this email directly or view it on
GitHubhttps://github.com/bevry/docpad/issues/634#issuecomment-23886555
.

Contributor

greduan commented Sep 5, 2013

Ah OK, since you put it in the text of docpad.org I thought GitHub automatically made a link to docpad.org.

Well what counts as big? The amount of people that visit it? The content it has? Who owns it? What makes it a big website.

gebrits commented Sep 6, 2013

Mapbox.com is extremely nice. Certainly not corporate but they're getting
big. Done in Jekyll.

On Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 8:52 PM, Eduán Lávaque notifications@github.comwrote:

Ah OK, since you put it in the text of docpad.org I thought GitHub
automatically made a link to docpad.org.

Well what counts as big? The amount of people that visit it? The content
it has? Who owns it? What makes it a big website.


Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHubhttps://github.com/bevry/docpad/issues/634#issuecomment-23892450
.

Owner

balupton commented Sep 6, 2013

/cc @johnedgar @mikeumus @deitch I know that being in the business of DocPad business, have any of you stumbled across anything like this?

For what it's worth, we also have a similar discussion about the market benefits of DocPad (and consequently SSGs) here: #49 peraps there is some cross-value

Member

deitch commented Sep 8, 2013

I spent years in enterprises, they all want to be the follower, "prove it was successful elsewhere," which is why it is so hard to break in.

There are two approaches we should take. One is to identify and promote a few large "logos" who use docpad. The other is to find the "brand" who would get so much value out of docpad that they are willing to be a conscious leader without being a follower, if we provide enough support to make it happen.

@dwynne you can be really helpful here. Can you share:

  1. why you feel an SSG would be so valuable to one of your corporate customers, who has lots of resources over a legacy CMS. We have our ideas, but the person in the trenches is the best.
  2. if you have one or two customers for whom it would be particularly beneficial?
  3. why the two examples listed above are not enough for the followers?

Would be happy to reach out to you on Facetime or Skype or G-Hangouts.

As an aside, I too love docpad, rebuilding my consulting and a Web service Website was exactly how I got involved.

Owner

balupton commented Sep 10, 2013

@dwynne would you been keen on adding Red Badger to the DocPad partners list: http://docpad.org/docs/support#support-consulting-partners - you can do so by creating a redbadger.html.md file here: https://github.com/docpad/documentation/tree/master/partners and submitting the consequent pull request

At least with this, we can invite you and hopefully forward you work from clients already sold on DocPad, along with the other partners.

Owner

mikeumus commented Sep 10, 2013

It's definitely our intentions are DocPad partners and developers to bring it from under the rug, both in the open-source community and commercial/enterprise market and it is gaining slowly in both of these areas just by the numbers, but it is slow. Teaming together like @deitch is suggesting and showing these larger companies with more on the line that both the DocPad vendor and community can hold up to it's initial shinny reflection is a great start.

Other critical roadmap items to to DocPad in the limelight are turnkey CMS plugins for end users (not just the markdowners), as well as get DocPad a new website(design-wise, there is an existing issue for this specifically somwhere), better docs(my vote as a YUI fan is of course http://yui.github.io/yuidoc/ ) and some marketing effort behind it (docpad/website#49).

I think Adobe and Microsoft using DocPad even to make small sat-sites is a huge step for DocPad's enterprise viability. MDM (my company) just finished a modest DocPad website for a startup: http://sunstarit.com/
Uses the YUI PureCSS.io framework via the PureCSS skeleton.

Bench-marking the benefits of DocPad a static generator versus any PHP arch that has to dive down to the kernel in some cases to build a page would be a strong case too. I'm seeing some start website's using ASP for there websites. I don't really know much about it, never cared much for enterprise stuff (despite what my homepage says, it needs to get re-done on DocPad: http://mdm.br.com/) but the only reason I can fathom a startup rolling out on ASP is they went to a large trusty vendor for it after being funded, which is still a mistake in my opinion. You should still be lean as a startup and what's leaner that DocPad.

DocPad also +1's Jekyll from my lack of understanding of it's community via the plugin base that our community it starting to roll out. The sea of plugins is what I attribute as Wordpress' biggest benefit and so if we out-plugin Jekyll, we're in a good place.

Member

deitch commented Sep 10, 2013

@mikeumus

Other critical roadmap items to to DocPad in the limelight are turnkey CMS plugins for end users (not just the markdowners),

What does this mean? Do you mind explaining?

Bench-marking the benefits of DocPad a static generator versus any PHP arch that has to dive down to the kernel in some cases to build a page would be a strong case too.

Well, I like it for that reason, but I am not convinced it is true for everyone. Hardware is cheap, and a small biz site that gets 1,000 hits a month doesn't care if it runs PHP+MySQL or DocPad or anything else, it barely touches his plan. But I could be wrong, we need to talk to them.

On the other hand, a corp site that gets 10,000 hits per week, and thus has multiple dedicated (or virtual) servers, is different. They actually care about these things.

DocPad also +1's Jekyll from my lack of understanding of it's community via the plugin base that our community it starting to roll out. The sea of plugins is what I attribute as Wordpress' biggest benefit and so if we out-plugin Jekyll, we're in a good place.

100%. It is an ecosystem that makes or breaks any platform. Seen any Apple ads lately that highlight how many apps are in the App Store, or how many downloads?

@mikeumus why do you use it? Do you use it for clients? Why? What gets you to use that?

Owner

mikeumus commented Sep 10, 2013

Hey @deitch, I use DocPad mostly for smaller projects which the current plugin ecosystem can support. Also I use it for the reason of how easy it is to work with via the accessibility of the website's content. Lastly I agree with many of @balupton's business philosophies.

Pardon that was "to get DocPad in the limelight", and there I was referring to a admin backend for non-technical users to login to manage their website. Similar to Wordpress admin for example.

Member

deitch commented Sep 11, 2013

@mikeumus so the reason you use it is ease of use vs a more traditional CMS. Is it the ease of:

  • initial deployment?
  • making changes?
  • switching hosting providers?
  • working with md templates and layouts vs more complex PHP coding for templates on WP?
  • Something else?

admin backend for non-technical users
Similar to Wordpress admin

I think you are saying (but not sure), that as a technical user, DocPad is far simpler than the hacking necessary in Drupal, Joomla, WP.

But as a non-technical user - your customers, or people running their own sites - DocPad still requires knowledge of deployments, and node, and running command-line. And for them, a Web UI would be crucial.

Did I understand?

dwynne commented Sep 11, 2013

Hey - sorry for slow reply, been busy out pitching DocPad to the enterprise!

@gebrits thanks for the Mapbox.com headsup - that's a great example, given their client list: Foursquare, Evernote, Financial Times, USA Today, NPR and more.

@deitch totally agree I was literally asked the question yesterday "what other corporate customers are using this?" and "where have you done this before?" This is ultimately the crux of my initial request. Whilst it's not bad start to say "our own website" - it's no where near as compelling to be able to "big brand/corporate x does".

The best examples we've found so far are:

  • HealthCare.gov
  • GitHub pages
  • Planio
  • Mapbox

That's not a bad start and does nearly enough to at least be able to say - "look, the technology is sound". But a bigger more impressive list is always better - so I'd still love to find some more examples as per my original request.

We've spent a fair amount of time putting together a coherent argument in favour of SSG over the traditional CMS (I may try to generalise our presentation and share it) but it basically breaks down to this:

  • Creating content (as an author) and consuming content (as a customer) are different problems. Traditional CMS (TCMS) have conflated these two problems and created an overly complex solution as a result. We should decouple each problem. Basically what @balupton said here.
  • SSG and TCMS basically do the same thing when it comes to producing HTML. They take content, combine it with a template and produce HTML. The key difference is when they do it. Everytime a page is requested vs. everytime content is changed.
  • By only producing the HTML when content changes, we hugely simplify the infrastructure requirements. This has huge [positive] knock-on consequences to infrastructure costs, vendor lock-in, support and diaster recovery. We've never struggled to make the "technical" case for SSG.
  • Managing the content... this is where we struggle. For us techies the idea we can write our content by creating a new Markdown file is great! To a CMO that's some kind of hell. They don't care how many servers it takes to manage the site, they just want to write their press release or manage their campaign and who can argue with that? The challenge we face right now, is that there is a perception that this big box of stuff called "Drupal" has content creation covered already. Whilst the truth is that it's modules probably use many of the same components we would use when compiling a solution to allow easy content editing, but because it comes under the Drupal banner the customer, psychologically, is still buying rather than building. And that's a problem. The work started on the docpad/gui project is fantastic and heading in exactly the right direction to help answer this - no question. We (Red Badger) intend to contribute.

@mikeumus - what site did MS build using DocPad?

@balupton - I'll definitely get Red Badger added to the partners list, thanks.

In summary here's how I feel at the moment:

  • The case for why a SSG does a better job of generating the HTML is easy.
  • The case for the simplified infrastructure is easy and compelling.
  • The case for why a SSG makes managing your content easier (for non-techies) needs work, but is in progress.
  • The list of large customers/corporates choosing to reap the rewards of the above is lacking and needs work.
Member

deitch commented Sep 11, 2013

So there are 2 questions that are relevant here:

  1. Why an SSG over a TCMS? You started to answer that, but we need to put greater effort into explaining this, building up the demand for SSGs beyond the techno-experts like the guys at GitHub who do tons of generation and figured out Jekyll > anything else.
  2. Why DocPad over other SSG like Jekyll?

Traditional CMS (TCMS) have conflated these two problems and created an overly complex solution as a result.

yes, but as you said later on:

For us techies the idea we can write our content by creating a new Markdown file is great! To a CMO that's some kind of hell.

The idea of optimizing Web content creation for read (SSG) as opposed to write (TCMS) is the same fundamental different NoSQL vs Traditional SQL (TSQL). It is the very reason NoSQL has been so successful. But both TSQL and NoSQL work in the world of techies who integrate both the read and the write.

SSG and TCMS both are read by everyone, but SSG requires some knowledge to get off the ground: node, nom, filesystem structure, local copies, maybe git, etc. etc. and requires local filesystem work each and every time you make a change, let alone working collaboratively.

TCMS, on the other hand, are a pain in the rear to set up and customize (although many hosting providers have put a lot of effort into 1-click deployments, and most plugin installation and updates are quite simple), but editing one file and pushing is as simple as going to a browser.

I think (big emphasis on "think" here) that we need to make the SSG > TCMS case, but at the same time:

  1. brutally honestly figure out where TCMS > SSG and solve for it. @balupton's manifesto you referenced is a very good start.
  2. be sure that SSG > TCMS in the context of real users. If we think it is better, but decision-makers don't, we need a different advantage
  3. figure out why DocPad > other SSG in the context of real users
  4. come up with a better brand name than SSG!
Owner

balupton commented Sep 11, 2013

http://coapp.org/index.html is the microsoft site, and http://www.topcoat.io/ is the adobe site

Owner

balupton commented Sep 11, 2013

@dwynne does dce and minicms help solve that issue of writing content, or is something like webwrite/inlinegui more what you're after? or importers - so you can use existing GUIs then import to DocPad? or something else?

Member

deitch commented Sep 11, 2013

@balupton here is a question. I am not really up on SEO or Google indexing, so forgive ignorance.

Is there any non-visible metadata that, if placed on a site, would cause it to become indexed by Google, such that we could get summary analytics? For example, is there some <meta tag that if placed on every docpad-generated page would cause Google to index it, and we could then use some Google tool to see, "100MM pages with this meta indexed"?

dwynne commented Sep 11, 2013

@balupton something more inline with webwrite/inlinegui definitely and the key to that is obviously docpad/docpad-plugin-restapi is key to that (and other GUIs like it) which appears to have come on very nicely.

We've been discussing how we'd like the editing workflow to work and are going to start working on some elements of it that dovetail with the features discussed under docpad/gui - will share once it's coherent!

Owner

balupton commented Sep 14, 2013

@deitch in newer versions we insert <meta name="generator" content="DocPad v6.52.0"/> and older versions we insert <meta http-equiv="X-Powered-By" content="DocPad v6.38.1"/>

@dwynne sweet

Owner

balupton commented Sep 14, 2013

On this topic, I'm thinking what we can do is setup a new website, where the entire static community can come together to pitch static site generators to the world, and at the end have a listing of all the static site generators available, sorted by their Github stars.

Doing this, we can get all of the static site generator community working together on convincing people to move over, rather than having each project try to pitch - something that would duplicate a whole lot of effort for measly results.

Owner

balupton commented Sep 14, 2013

I've created https://github.com/bevry/gostatic to facilitate that idea

Member

deitch commented Sep 14, 2013

@balupton can we do any kind of analytics on it from Google? It would be valuable marketing.

gostatic.com, that is nice, I like the idea. @mikeumus you know a lot about design... :-)

Owner

mikeumus commented Sep 15, 2013

@deitch, I like the idea a lot. gostatic.com seems taken (unless one that's one of us that's got it) but .co is available. At first though I'd imaging a single page site looking almost like a scrolling info-graphic (with some interactive pieces/animations maybe).

Owner

balupton commented Sep 15, 2013

Sounds great, I'll even fork out for the .io if we need to. So domain name isn't an issue.

I love the idea of the single page website. Perhaps we can get @zenorocha on board? His work on http://browserdiet.com/ has been amazing, especially considering it is a docpad website, and that he was able to get all the industries leading experts on the subject to work together. That same type of initiative is exactly what we need here for the static site generator movement! @zenorocha you in?

Owner

balupton commented Sep 15, 2013

For what it's worth, I've also taken the time to setup https://github.com/bevry/goopen as well, to popularize the open everything movement we are seeing. As it turns out, the open-source everything idea, while common in the open-source scene, is contained in a tiny tiny bubble for the rest of the world. It would be amazing if we can have that go real big too. Although, completely separate issue from this SSG one ;-)

Owner

balupton commented Sep 15, 2013

@balupton can we do any kind of analytics on it from Google? It would be valuable marketing.

Sure. Ideally, I'd love to see it as the place where all SSG authors, businessmen, and whomever else can come together to help pitch the market.

Member

deitch commented Sep 15, 2013

Huh, well there is an idea. Can we have static analytics on the page? i.e. go to gostatic.io (or whatever), and one of the pages is, "who is using it" and pulls some Google Analytics data on it?

Owner

balupton commented Sep 15, 2013

Sure, does GA provide embed data in that way? Or would we need to use another analytics provider?

Member

deitch commented Sep 15, 2013

I don't actually know if GA provides that kind of cross-sectional data. But if they do, I assume there is some way to embed. This is Google; they love APIs.

Loved this gostatic name!

Just left some comments and created some issues there.

:octocat: Sent from GH.

Owner

balupton commented Oct 2, 2013

I've setup http://staticsitegenerators.net/ to maintain the listing, happy to have those interested send as many pull requests as they'd like to make it better.

Also keen to have pull requets for bevry/gotstatic to address the pitching to enterprise

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