I created a Google web page in 2005 to demonstrate how easy it is to create a web page for free. I am an advocate in open source software and I really like what Google has done in this effort. Having access to the Internet for free has always been one of my passions. In Portland Oregon back in 2000 I help found one of the largest free wireless groups in the country. Personal Telco Project is still active today using a logo that I created with my Wacom tablet.
So with all of the tools available that are free, why use tools that cost money? Well I use both and I hate to say it but I use the tools that cost money more than the tools that are free. One reason that I use commercial software tools from Adobe and Microsoft is that I make my living using and teaching folks how to use them. When I was unemployed in Portland for two years I used open source tools a lot. During that time I did not have to use commercial tools and I choose to use open source tools. I quickly learned that I could do almost everything using open source tools.
So when you compare Microsoft web portal tools like SharePoint and open source web portal tools like Joomla there is a big difference in price. I have created web portals using both technologies. The SharePoint sites may not work when you read this but they are up as of December 24, 2007. The SharePoint sites are the HT Campus site and a Lonnie’s Personal site. The Joomla sites are The Austin Pond Society and launi.com.
So what is the really big difference between using open source portal software, commercial software and Google web page tools? Well unlike the other server based tools Google web page tools are all on-line and you can use them without knowing any HTML or having any knowledge of how to run a server. There certainly are advantages and disadvantages to each of these solutions for web portals so your mileage may vary. From my experience there is a steep learning curve for SharePoint and it is very expensive to run. If you are on a tight budget then Joomla is really a nice easy to use web portal.