Collaboration Tools and Technologies
Collaboration tools and technologies enable efficient interaction and shared content/product development through a common set of tools and strategies that facilitate multi-contributor work. This workshop, and associated page in the Federation wiki, will provide some background information on a variety of collaboration tools that Federation members might find useful in developing shared content and materials. The following sections provide specific information relating to different classes of collaboration tools.
This portion of the presentation demonstrated some of the capabilities and features of the open source applications Plone (a content management system) and Zope (the application server upon which Plone is built). The demonstration made reference to existing project sites maintained by the Earth Data Analysis Center for several projects.
Plone provides a collaborative web content management system that has a robust collection of predefined development workflows that support a fairly standard create - submit - publish model of content presentation. This model allows for a separation between authors or content generators, and the individuals responsible for the exposure of created content to site visitors. This system is based upon a set of predefined roles, each of which has a set of specified privliledges relating to the content they have produced, and the content produced by others. While originally developed with an explicit site content publication model at its base, Plone has been extended over the years through the development of additional modules that go well beyond the base model: wiki interfaces, online survey instruments, trouble-ticket applications, geospatial components, and many more. A current catalog of available Plone add-ons is available from the Plone Products page [].
Zope is the application server upon which Plone is built. Zope is written in Python, and provides an object-oriented application development framework for the deployment of internet applications. The provided capabilities include two alternative templating frameworks, integrated security management capabilities, an integrated database that is used for the storage of application objects, and support for the development of add-on products that build upon the core capabilities of the Zope framework. Plone is a collection of such add-on products that has been developed for Zope. A catalog of available Zope add-on products is available through the Zope products page [].
Overall, EDAC has found the combination of Plone and Zope to be a powerful tool for the deployment of collaborative web resources in support of a variety of sites. The content creation workflow capabilities provide for the decentralization of site content contributions while still maintaining editorial control over what is ultimately published for exposure to the public.