A couple of people suggested drupal. I've heard good things about drupal, so I took a quick look at the website. Here's a sample of what hits you on the installation page:
Drupal requires a web server, PHP4 (4.3.3 or greater) or PHP5 (http://www.php.net/) and either MySQL (http://www.mysql.com/) or PostgreSQL (http://www.postgresql.org/).
That's hardly ideal for semi-technical people.
Once drupal is installed, however, it seems easy to configure and use. What my friend's users need is a simple way to install the application in the first place.
The best approach I can think of is to install a Virtual Appliance.
A Virtual Appliance is a virtual machine image which you can run using VMware, Xen or Parallels. It contains a complete application, pre-configured and ready to run.
Using a Virtual Appliance with the free VMware player takes just 5 steps:
- Download VMware Player.
- Install it. (on Windows, that's a one-click operation).
- Download and unzip a suitable Virtual Appliance.
- Start the Player and
- Start the Appliance.
I tried out the drupal appliance from JumpBox. It took me about 5 minutes to install and start using it. (I had a bit of a head-start because I already had VMware player installed).
If you know someone who wants user-friendly software but who lacks the technical expertise to install it, look and see if you can find a virtual appliance to suit.
More and more software (open source and commercial) is being offered this way, and it's also a great way to distribute software that you've written or configured.