Integrating Plone and Salesforce.com

As my colleague Steve Andersen also reports, ONE/Northwest has received a $25,000 grant from the Salesforce.com Foundation to fund the integration of Plone with Salesforce.com. This will allow folks with Plone-powered websites to share data about people, organizations, etc. with the Salesforce.com database platform. You can read more details on the ONE/Northwest website.

As you might expect, we’re all pretty excited. Plone and Salesforce.com are both industrial strength, easy-to-use applications with incredibly strong communities behind them and bright futures ahead. Both are widely used in the nonprofit sector — and beyond. And both have deeply embedded assumptions about the importance of “playing nice” with other applications, which is what makes this kind of across-the-internet integraion possible.

Our current plan is for an October final release, with several interim milestones along the way. We’ll be working with Enfold Systems, who are top-tier Plone consultants (and friends), to make sure the code is written right.

We haven’t yet set up any kind of collaboration space for the project (since it just became really real yesterday!), but if you’re interested in participating or in tracking it closely, leave a comment below and we’ll be in touch soon.

Plone Bootcamp Wrapup

Ok, my brain is full.

We just wrapped up an extremely successful Seattle Plone Bootcamp, and I gotta say, I’m pretty tired. I can only imagine how our interpid trainer Joel Burton must feel — he had to think, talk and answer questions for a whole week!

Here’s the quick report out for those of you who might be wondering whether you want to run a Plone Bootcamp in your town. (Short answer: yes!)  You can also check out a few photos, which I tagged “plonebootcamp” at Flickr.
Thanks to fellow Seattle Plonista Melody Winkle of the UW Computing Services department, we were able to book fantastic (and reasonably priced!) space at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture.

There, among CUH’s gardens and greenhouses, 40 Plone users, administrators and consultants gathered for 5 days of intensive hands-on training led by Joel. It was really great to be surrounded by co-conspirators such as Trey Beck (Ohtogo), Aaron vanDerlip (Netcorps), Sarmeesha Reedy (Dharmatech), Sam & Mike Moscheck (Digitalaid), Kris Wittenberger (NPower Seattle), Tim Schaub (CommEn Space), Josh Livini (Livni Consulting), and Brian Gershon (RagingWeb) And it was even cooler to meet a whole bunch of new people from Seattle, Portland and even South Dakota (!) who are passionate about Plone.

The first couple of days were warmups, covering some of Plone’s more advanced end-user features, the basics of Zope’s page templating system, and the fundamentals of skinning Plone (i.e. customizing its look and feel). I felt on surprisingly solid ground here; despite the fact that I don’t know a lick of Python, I could handle all of this stuff pretty readily. I guess that all the time I’ve spent bugging Jon and Andrew knee has paid off some. 😉

We held the monthly Seattle Plone Gathering on Tuesday night in the U District, and it will come as no surprise that it was very well attended by Bootcampers, Seattle Plone regulars and even international man of mystery Andy McKay.

On Thursday, we dove into creating custom content types. Unfortunately, I had to take off to deliver a Plone end-user training for Seattle Tilth, so I missed what sounded like a lot of good stuff Thursday afternoon. But fortunately, I made it back in time for a tasty dinner with the Bootcamp crew.

Friday was devoted to more advanced content types work, as well as the basics of security, permissions, workflows and custom code development. Again, some very helpful tips that will help us further refine our work.

And thus the week ended.
A few random thoughts:

  • Joel is a really great trainer. Handling a room of 40 people is hard, and Joel did it with grace, aplomb and a good sense of humor. His ability to explain complex concepts, and to answer questions without getting too distracted from the topic at hand were admirable.
  • We were able to put on the training for only $300 a person — that’s a pretty amazing deal. I’m extremely grateful to Joel for being so generous with his time and expertise. Joel also made a very significant financial contribution to the Seattle Plone Gathering, which will help us continue to build the Plone community here in Seattle.
  • The diversity of the Plone community is a real source of strength. We had folks from the nonprofit sector as well as business, government, academia and independent consultants.
  • There was definitely strong interest in running another Bootcamp later this year, likely in Portland, OR. If you think you might be interested, drop my colleague Jon Baldivieso a line (jonb onenw.org) or leave a commen there. JonB will likely be firing up a Portland Plone User Group in the next month or two. Joel also promises a ~3-day Advanced Bootcamp, probably in San Francisco, sometime later this year.
  • I wished we’d spent a little more time doing introductions on the first day. I know we had a lot to cover, and I got to chat with almost everyone during the week, but spending the 45 minutes it would have taken to do a good icebreaker would have helped.
  • I’m feeling hugely energized and motivated.

When…

… will well-meaning activists figure out that a half-megabyte PDF file is not the most effective format for an emailed event invitation?

I’m just saying.

Now for the constructive part: it’s better to send a highly compressed JPEG in the body of the message.  And even better to send legible text and/or HTML.

How To Raise Money With Email

My pal, Web of Change diva and online fundraiser extraordinaire Madeleine Stanionis’  book is finally out! In it she shares all of the wisdom she’s accmulated helping big nonprofits raise millions of dollars online via timely, well-written and well-designed email appeals.  I can’t wait to get my mitts on a copy — it’s sure to be packed full of smart advice from one of the smartest 21st-century fundraisers on the planet.
Looks like Michael Stein agrees.

See You at Plone Symposium

On Tuesday, my colleagues Andrew Burkhalter, Jon Baldivieso and I are heading down to New Orleans (!) where we’ll be attending Plone Symposium 2006, the annual gathering of the North America Plone community.

This will be the second annual Plone Symposium, and the third major Plone community event in New Orleans, and, most significantly (to me) my first big Plone event.

We’re giving a tutorial on Wednesday afternoon about our experiences implementing Plone for grassroots environmental nonprofits, in which we’ll share a bunch of the tips and tricks we’ve accumulated over the past two years and 50+ nonprofit websites we’ve launched using Plone.
There’s so much I’m looking forward to: meeting all of the Plone folks whom I’ve previously only known by IRC nickname; getting to see New Orleans first-hand; meeting Plone users and developers from outside of my comfortable little nonprofit technology bubble. It’s going to be a great week.

ONE/Northwest Open-House at NTC 2006!

If you’re going to be in town for the Nonprofit Technology Conference later this month, please swing ONE/Northwest for the open house we’re hosting on Wednesday, March 22nd, 5-8pm.

There’ll be food, drink and lots of interesting folks. And, if you’re lucky, a nice sunset over the Olympics.

Please RSVP so we can be sure not to run out of comestibles.