The second day of the 5th annual eZ Conference
opened with a keynote address by Jo Christian Oterhals, Head of Development at VG Multimedia, Norway's largest newspaper and media group.
He spoke on his group's experience with developing VG Nett, which consists of the online version of the VG newspaper
and a suite of complementary web properties such as communities, blogs, photo sharing and so on.Since its first implementation in 1995, VG Nett has gradually redefined the company's approach to news, moving from the concept of "deadline" to the concept of "birth." Content progresses through stages, sometimes with the first stage being the "stub" of a breaking story that evolves into an article, and then into a fully contextualized component within a group of archived material.
The intention is both to deliver breaking news and provide depth via links to related material. With the addition of new web properties, VG Nett seeks to further redefine the news delivery paradigm by building a social platform that recognizes that people not only consume news, but also contribute to and create it.
VG Nett has been through numerous technology iterations, some more successful than others. There is an eight month "hole" in their archives where the data is so badly mangled that it is still unparsable.
Currently, VG Nett runs on the LAMP stack
(Linux, Apache, PHP and MySQL), using Zend and Subversion as the development framework and Varnish (also presented at the eZ Conference) as the caching mechanism.
While they develop their core applications in-house, they also acquire application technology and invest in the development of Open Source technologies (such as the Varnish HTTP accelerator).
Dag-Erling Smørgrav, Senior Software Developer at Linpro AS
and FreeBSD committer since 1998, spoke about the Varnish HTTP accelerator. Varnish takes full advantage of the advanced I/O, threading and virtual memory facilities offered by modern operating systems, and its performance exceeds that of its competitors by an order of magnitude.
While optimized for performance, the developers of Varnish also considered simplicity and sensible defaults on installation. In the words of Smørgrav, "A design goal is to make Varnish good enough in default mode that you can set it up without reading the documentation when you've been slashdotted at 2 in the morning."
VG Nett went from 13 HTTP accelerators running Squid to 2 running Varnish (and the second Varnish server is primarily for redundancy). Response time was reduced from 50-150 milliseconds to 20-30 milliseconds for a cache hit (round trip time - actual response time is too low to measure across the network).
One problem encountered by the Varnish team is the fact that many content management systems written in Java and PHP (including eZ Publish) create session cookies when there is no user-specific session data to store (for example, before a user has authenticated with a site). They have had to build workarounds to cache data in defiance of cookies.
Sebastian Bergman is a long-time contributor to various PHP projects and the PHP core and currently works on the Workflow component of the eZ Component suite
. The relationship between Enterprise Content Management
Management is analogous to that of attributes (data) and methods (operations on the data) that are encapsulated in a class in object-oriented programming.
The Workflow component provides the means to structure software around graphs and makes up an pragmatic approach to describe workflows through objects that encapsulate the workflow patterns. A workflow definition is an object graph that can be programmatically created using the Workflow Definition API or loaded from an XML file before it is executed via the Workflow Execution API.
Zak Greant, Mozilla Foundation Ombudslizard, gave the second keynote of the day, "A Visionary Look at Open Source." He took the audience through a brief history of language, showing the evolution of speech and writing, describing how the innovation of publishing and the extension of literacy created societies that were capable of overthrowing tyranny.
He argued that freedom of speech is the same as freedom of thought, and that Open Source software is as important to human freedom as freedom of speech. "It took 40,000 years to go from 'speech' to 'freedom of speech.' We cannot allow the rights of individuals in this new epoch of communication to be eroded."
eZ Conference 2007 was a great success, largely due to the efforts of the eZ Crew led by Events Manager Shezmeen Hudani. We thank our sponsors, speakers and attendees, and look forward to eZ Conference 2008.
Read the complete eZ Conference series here:
* Techies Invade Viking Territory for eZ Conference
* eZ Conference Kicks Off with International Partner Day
* eZ Conference: Fancy Faces, Fun and Games