Back in 2002, I was a software developer / project leader with a County agency in Southern California. I had just been tasked with implementing a county-wide document management infrastructure based on the software, FileNet. At the time, FileNet was an independent company involved in the capture, storage, and retrieval of documents and other records. I was given this project both because of my experience in handling large-scale projects and because I had five years prior experience working with content management systems.
Unfortunately, I knew nothing about FileNet.
Also, there was scant information to learn about FileNet out in the wild. I had only a minimal training budget available. I decided to begin a website discussion forum to bring a community together and discuss FileNet. My website, filesite.org, was launched in July 2002 with the hope of gathering FileNet experts and newbies (like me) to share information.
Thus, FileSITE.org was born:
I modeled the logo after that of a consulting firm I’d worked with and used open source discussion board software. My entire startup expenses were less than $50 and I was able to launch the site in a few months. Looking at the internet domain registry, one can see the site has belonged to me since July 2002.
Within a few years, FileSite took off and became a “go-to” place for FileNET (soon to be FileNet) developers and users. As I had hoped, it grew organically into a community of those looking for information and those willing to dispense their knowledge. I was even able to post about my first implementation with the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department.
Much of the growth was due to consistent exposure in other discussions and by attending conferences. Sadly, the site also drew spammers and even a few script kiddie hackers, who took advantage of unpatched flaws in the underlying software. These things were handled and eventually the spam issue was made manageable. FileSite first changed the look in 2004 upon reaching 1,000 registered users.
By 2007, FileSite took on an edgier look and added on to the April Fool’s tradition with a post about FileNet running on a 1980′s-era Apple II Computer.
Soon, it became apparent to me that limiting the site to only FileNet might be limiting. I decided to broadened the scope of the site to encompass products from other Electronic Content Management systems. As such, I added a second domain, ecmplace.com, and changed the logo to the current one. Filesite.org still redirected to the new site and no other changes were made, save for putting the forum on the front page.
This is how ECMPlace looked in 2010, when I first made the change. Since then, only minor tweaks have been implemented. After almost two years, it became apparent that FileNet was still the primary driver for people coming to the site. The ECMPlace front page was again organized to ensure that visitors could find relevant informaiton fast. All FileNet related topics were grouped in front and on top so that they coudl be easily seen and accessed.
I hope to see ECMPlace continue to thrive in this niche arena. I have many helpers on the site in the form of Site Admins and am confident ECMPlace will be around for years to come.