Damien Metzler is a well known name around Nuxeo, and I was excited to get a chance to catch up with him and chat about his Nuxeo platform-based project at Leroy Merlin. Damien has developed GWT containers and OpenSocial features for the company’s Nuxeo EP-based Intranet Portal, and he has also contributed his enhancements back to the Nuxeo platform. Now all Nuxeo users have access to an iGoogle-like dashboard with both internal and external gadgets, because his contribution was integrated into Nuxeo DM.
The project, spearheaded by the Internal Communications department, has the ultimate goal of improving the personal and collective efficiency of all Leroy Merlin employees – 20,000 people in France. The tool that we developed for this is an Intranet Portal. The main functionalities are:
- Workspaces for communicating in a vertical manner
- A space for teams to exchange information, such as tasks, agendas, and documents
- A personal space where employees can put anything they want to – videos, photos, documents, etc.
At Leroy Merlin, teams are organized within each store by department, such as hardware, woodworking, garden, etc. The Intranet has a team space that must be easy to use by a non-technical person. Employees use this space to leave each other messages, tasks, share photos, etc. The space also has specific widgets to display data, such as financial results. We wanted the portal to have an iGoogle or NetVibes feel, so that it was versatile and easy for everyone to use. The project started in July 2008.
An intranet portal for 20,000 people that improves personal and collective efficiency - now that’s ambitious. How did you get the requirements?
There were 2 parts to the requirements gathering phase of the project:
- a quantitative analysis, with a company-wide poll on the use of the Intranet, led by the Internal Communications department
- a qualitative analysis, led by the IT department. We had 12 employees that were representative of the company, and used a game of card placement with cards representing blogs, document sharing, agendas, etc., to determine collaboration needs.
The conclusion from both parts of the requirements gathering phase was that the biggest requirement for this project was document sharing.
Why did you decide to use Nuxeo technology for your portal?
We already knew about Nuxeo because we had used CPS (the earlier Nuxeo technology) for a part of our portal. We had to make some strategic choices about how to develop the system. At one point, we considered using traditional Java portals like Liferay or JBoss Portal and integrating document management functionalities into it. We also could have based the system on pure web portal technology. In the end, we decided to use the Nuxeo platform to store and manage personal workspaces and documents, and integrate OpenSocial to create a dashboard. We chose Nuxeo because it has a platform approach, instead of the application approach of other vendors. It’s truly an open source solution that you can custom
ize and adapt. Today, we are contributing code back to the Nuxeo platform. For me, that’s the proof that the Nuxeo platform is truly open source, modular, and customizable.What’s the status of the project today?
The new Leroy Merlin Portal has been in production since August 2010. Here are a few results:
- 20,000 users
- about 15,000 unique visits a day (and growing)
- runs on
- 4 clustered JBoss server (NX 5.3.1++)
- 1 PostgreSQL DB
The Portal remains a work in progress, with continuous enhancements and improvements.
At what point did you start contributing your development work back to Nuxeo?
First of all, this has not been very easy… Since OpenSource software is often a meritocracy, we had to prove the merit of what we were doing. It all began in July 2008 ,when we chose the Nuxeo platform to hold our iGoogle-like Intranet. In August, we were able to make a tiny demo, integrating the Nuxeo WebEngine (first version at that time) w
ith Shindig. We were able to add gadgets and drag’n’drop them onto a collaborative space. I made a small screencast and sent it to Eric (Barocca, CEO of Nuxeo). He answered, “We should find some ways to work together.”Since then, I’ve become a known user in the community and have been implicated in architectural choices regarding OpenSocial.