back to article Open source CMS - promise without pitfall

Open source has changed operating systems, application servers and databases. Now, the benefits of open source are being realized in content management systems (CMS), traditionally a vendor-controlled world of expensive licensing and closed APIs. Open source is putting CMS into the hands of developers and organizations …

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Open Source CMS 101

I may be being unduly critical, however I felt this article was a little basic, particularly for a Reg Developer audience - Open Source CMS systems have been around for a while now, so I was hoping for a bit more meat to this article. The kinds of question that I would like answered about CMS systems are:

1. Which ones are going to be able to cope with the day-to-day performance demands of a busy news site, corporate site etc.? Would you run El Reg on the ones discussed?

2. Which ones will allow the poor, hassled site maintainers to convert the new-fangled design for which Marketing have just shelled out ££££ into usable templates?

3. Which ones give sufficient control over the HTML output to ensure that the resulting site is standards-compliant? Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) for instance.

Bonus question: How much is Alfresco going to disrupt the market for EMC, IBM and OpenText?

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Nice Summary.

http://www.opensourcecms.com is a great resource as it allows you to try out the many CMSes and Blogs to find what suits your needs.

You also need to test out the CMS on the desired platform and spec of machine, for example one of the most popular CMS systems creates a high load on MySQL, which affects scalability on shared hosting for example.

Test out the potential customisations (Modules), as well, because sometimes they can conflict and cause performance issues (again this can occur even with the most popular of open source CMS, one example in my experience in exceeding memory allocation due to amount of modules I needed to enable/install to get the functionality required.

Its always worth looking at the history of how frequent updates and bug fixes are released and the serverity of the bugs they fix, some CMS seem to require a lot more fixing.

For a major project/website, it really is important to spend a lot of time evaluating and testing.

Cheers, Nick

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Paris Hilton

Crummy Communities

I use WordPress a lot. Great CMS. Makes clean code, very customizable, huge support community.

However, I have found the WP community to be like an online Melrose Place, with battling egos and verbal pie fights. I have had offline conversations with many people who complain about the community, and many eminently qualified people don't participate because of this stuff, which is a real shame.

The documentation is a typical wiki disaster.

Lots of it, with very little organization. Searching for one term can bring up dozens of pages; often with conflicting information. The pages have no structure, where everything is in this amorphous Web 2.0 "tagspace." It is NOT a good thing to apply unstructured tags to SDK documentation, which really needs structure.

I generally use their docs to find the file I need, then I look up the source code and figure out the true story. Takes a great deal less time than trying to use the docs.

All that being said, it's a great CMS, and I use it a lot. I noticed that CNN uses it for their blogs, which is quite a plume dans vous chapeau.

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I agree with Senor

I definitely wanted more meat.

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I was hoping for more

I was hoping for some guidance as to which CMS's I should evaluate.

A top 10 list with each projects weaknesses and strengths would have been nice.

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I use...

...Joomla. I like it, but then again I run a small set of fairly small personal sites (for myself and friends). I like its customisation features and I like the fact I can modify the "skeleton" html of the themes on-line if I so choose. ^_^

I was using PHP-Nuke before hand (it sill runs a couple of the sites) but I found Joomla much friendlier. YMMV, of course.

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Gates Halo

DOTNETNUKE

No mention of DotNetNuke, thats open source!

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Happy

umbraco

t'other day my wife shocked me by revealing her hours of working with a CMS... Umbraco. http://umbraco.org/ - turned out to be open source and quite useable too. I'm going to investigate it further - as currently I've got a lot of Drupal, Joomla and PHP-Nuke sites.. some need migrating and updating.

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Jobs Halo

evaluate whether there are xml / css templates????

> Also, evaluate whether there are XML and CSS templates available that allow you to change the skin of the site, for a different look and feel.

WHAT????

This is a content management system. A content management system is a system that manages content. It doesn't need to manage layout or function or interactivity because it manages content. If a content management system was going to manage these other things it wouldn't be called a content management system.

Why the rant?

I tried Joomla / Mambo, phpnuke, drupal. They are all interesting systems but they all had one failing, they dictated layout of code, they dictated layout of the site. It might be a good, sensible, well thought out usable layout but it's their layout. I may want to build something that doesn't fit into their rigid layout. I may want something that will spit out unstyled content between two tags and leave the rest of the site up to me to dictate. I may not want to have to mess with the source code (which is probably in a source-management system so if I upgrade it will get over-written) in order to use the system.

If you get a chance have a look at CMS Made Simple, www.cmsmadesimple.org. It supports a very sane separation of code, style and content, it is fairly light on the web server, the code is well written and maintained and it has a very active development community and good support. You can leave questions on their forum and people will actually answer them and their IRC channel has always had people there willing to help. Not bad for free. Crucially there are a lot of people using the system on live sites, in production.

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Drupal is more flexible than you think.

Drupal gives you all the control you need.

The theme system gives you complete control over every aspect of presentation.

The software design is amazing modular consisting of an elegant system of hooks and API calls. Your modules can step in at any point and replace default behavior with its own functions without having to hack the core Drupal modules.

Granted to write a sohpisticated module you are going to have to be a competent PHP coder and maybe read a 200 page book.

Simply creating a theme is a bit easier, but still the learning curve might be higher than with other CMSs.

However I found that studying Drupal's inner workings to be rewarding for its own sake. The code is so well designed that I it was almost like reading a text book on how to apply modern software designed methodology to the PHP programming language.

I am not saying Drupal right for everyone, or even for most. People have a wide variety of needs which calls for a wide variety of of feature sets and characteristics.

I wanted a PHP based CMS with well written code, and a highly flexible modular design can be easily extended.

So far Drupal is the best I found.

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I agree...

... Drupal is what I personally use - having made use of a variety of CMS systems including Joomla, Wordpress and others - and it's up there with the best.

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