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How To Choose An Open Source CMS 191

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the focus-on-the-problem dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Content management specialist Seth Gottlieb has written an easy to understand how-to on selecting an open source CMS. Gottlieb is also responsible for the whitepaper 'Content Management Problems and Open Source Solutions' which summarizes 15 open source projects and distinguishes between open source CMS and proprietary software selection."
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How To Choose An Open Source CMS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:58AM (#14556907)
    http://www.opensourcecms.com/ [opensourcecms.com]
    • by Black Perl (12686) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:37AM (#14557895)
      While this does seem to be the obvious answer, at least in name, this site is not what people expect. It is NOT dedicated to open source, and it does not have anything other than PHP apps, some of which are not CMSes.

      If you know in advance you must be using PHP, and you're not sure whether you want a portal, CMS, weblog, etc, then this is a good site.

      However, if you have other languages in mind, or are open to a good CMS in any language, you should check other sources. One good reference site is CMS Matrix [cmsmatrix.org]. Another good source of CMS information is CMS Watch [cmswatch.com]; even though it concentrates on the entire spectrum of CMS systems (including commercial ones) it occasionally has very good articles or pointers to articles about open source products (like this one [blogspot.com] which I just found).

    • Try Krang! krang.sourceforge.net Krang is an Open Source web-publisher / content-management system designed for large-scale magazine-style websites. It is a 100% Perl application using Apache/mod_perl and MySQL, as well as numerous CPAN modules. Its easily extensible for a perl programmer and incredibly flexible. Setup is relatively simple and straight forward.
  • Best CMS (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:04AM (#14556960)
    Two of the most popular and flexible open-source Content Management Systems are vi and emacs...
    • Emacs sucks, though. Go with vi!
    • Re:Best CMS (Score:2, Funny)

      by Elixon (832904)
      I usually write new CMS in my old CMS (Emacs).

      Emacs is good, but I didn't found the sufficient support of keystrokes like C-x C-e in modern browsers. That's why I didn't choose the Emacs for the front-end for my newest and brightest CMS. ;-)

      But I hope that they will evolve to be at least as supportive for ten-strokes-in-one commands as the Emacs was twenty years ago... ;-)) I foreseen that the Web 4.0 will support all Emacs' fundamentals at least in "transitional" mode for the beginning. Refer to W3C eXHTML
    • Two of the most popular and flexible open-source Content Management Systems are vi and emacs...

      Funny or not, I used them (and Notepad on occasion) successfully for years to manage content, using pages built on SSI. Toss in a couple of Perl scripts to move content around and there you were - just load content to be posted into a special directory structure, have the script look for content in that directory structure, and move content accordingly, archiving the current content. No fuss or muss, with only t

    • Re:Best CMS (Score:2, Funny)

      by garethwi (118563)
      So, if I were to choose one of these, which one would be best? Vi or Emacs?

    • Has anyone else noticed F/OSS are starting to have a world of their own. As the report says, you cannot do feature-to-feature comparisons on products like this but the features and power of free software seem to really be gaining acceptance by the early adopters (not big companies). I mean, the projects are stable and useful.
  • Killer features (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lord Satri (609291) <alexandreleroux@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:06AM (#14556972) Homepage Journal
    We had to choose between many CMS for our specialized site. There are many CMS out there [cmsmatrix.org]. Our choice ended with slashcode. slashcode is hard to install and configure, but the thing is, we considered (other may think otherwise) it has a "killing feature" that was worthed the pain in the long run: slashcode's moderation system.

    Different CMS shares a lot of features, but some features are unique from one to another and might influence your choice...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Our choice ended with slashcode.

      You're such an asskisser. ;-)

    • Easy to install slashcode... its using it and getting up to speed that hurts. Install is as easy as installing a fresh Debian stable then apt-get install slashcode.
    • The nice thing about the feature matrix on that site is that it clearly illustrates the problem with many OSS cms systems: they're mostly low end systems with lots of important features missing. For example wordpress doesn't have most of the features. I use wordpress for my blog but I know the difference between that and a high end cms. Wordpress doesn't have versioning, it doesn't handle internationalization to well, it doesn't include workflows, it doesn't support custom forms, it doesn't support anything
  • Trial and Error (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:07AM (#14556985) Homepage
    No matter how many people tell me that "Foo" is the best CMS, the only way that I found to really get a feel for them was to test them out myself. That included setting something up, testing the setup, and testing my abilities at updating the code.

    I settled on Drupal only because it was the "hot thing" at the time and I enjoyed the fact that you could put php code into "blocks" and have it run custom code w/o much hassle. At the time I wasn't all that much interested in working on the actual code so the "blocks" allowed me to get some of my bash shell scripts onto the site w/o doing too much hacking.
    • Drupal for me too! (Score:4, Informative)

      by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew&zhrodague,net> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:59AM (#14557493) Homepage Journal
      I have selected Drupal [drupal.org], myself. I have looked at almost every other CMS out there, and after installing packages, switching languages, and other types of systems-mutilation that some packages require, I've found that Drupal makes my life as a web publisher much easier.

      Druapl is also very configurable, even without having to write any code at all. It is all done with PHP, Apache, MySQL, which most GNU/Linux distributions seem to have already on the distribution media. Install your favorite distro, and Drupal fits in quite nicely.
      • Same here, especially if you've worked with Mambo before that.
        Drupal is quite a refreshing and welcome change.

        OTOH I'm currently looking into theming it; my own skills in that regard, dating mostly from the HTML+ days, need a bit of brushing up and all the available themes look the same to me.

        On the module side, there are bits of code that can be used as they are or can be customized to do pretty much anything. It feels a bit like Firefox and its extensions.

        Of course anyone shopping for a CMS should still t
        • Theming Drupal is easiest if you use the optional phpThemeEngine -- you can then take a stock HTML + CSS page, throw in PHP directives to display your content-specific data, and be off to the races.

          The stock Drupal themes tend to be a bit on the bland side, but that's IMO largely because good coders don't necessarily make good designers. ;-) I recently put up an e-commerce site that married Drupal with a graphic artist's design; you can see the results here. [qbabystore.com]
          • I grabbed the PHPengine module just yesterday and should look into it today.

            Thanks for the link to your site, it's encouraging to see that nice things can be done with the engine :)

            I reckon that I'll probably have to find some kind of infographist to deal with the pretty pictures though. I'm ok at manipulating existing images but creating them from scratch is something I've never been able to do :(
  • by gregalicious (949319) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:12AM (#14557028)
    The problem with CMSes is that updating them is slow. With some of the rich ones out there you're waiting too long to make a simple post or add some content (Tiki Pro, feature rich as it is suffers from this a lot but so do Joomla, Mambo etc). I think that the future (not that it's really pertinent to this question) is something local, a client running on every editor's PC, like NetObject's nPower (if it's any good, haven't used it).
    • This is a very good solution for some circumstances. With software like NetObjects or Contribute you can do a lot. But there are still some places where a CMS is still more useful than those. Say, sites that are not static but community based. In those cases a CMS is still a very good solution.
    • Sounds like you are describing a sort of crippled Dreamweaver, which is what all this CMS business was designed to escape. At the risk of causing all the anti-Ajax people to have an aneurism, I think that when CMS's start adopting Ajax techniques, their usability quotient will go up pretty sharply. To my mind this is the sort of application for which Ajax is made -- largely internal functions in which you have some control or at least knowledge of the hardware being used. Moreover, updates and changes can b
    • "I think that the future (not that it's really pertinent to this question) is something local, a client running on every editor's PC, like NetObject's nPower (if it's any good, haven't used it)."

      I highly disagree. If you're able to get by with that then you either...

      1. Don't have much content to manage
      2. Don't have to worry (too much) about training new editors
      3. Don't have to worry about integration with other business systems

      CMS solutions are not easy to implement and rarely do everything that you wan
    • Real web sites have caches in front of their CMS to enhance speed. I've seen several Zope/Squid combos that do fine.
      • Page caching can only do so much. If you have a complex page that takes 30 seconds to retrieve a complex page from the origin server, and you are getting 9,000 requests a minute, it is very likely that the caches will overwhelm your tier of origin servers before any of them can have a cached copy to return to the client.
  • Etomite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BuR4N (512430)
    We have been using Etomite for a while now and are very happy with it.

    Good points so far:

    - Simple to setup
    - Easy to develop templates for, our template (http://www.intellipool.se/ [intellipool.se] took a work day to put together.
    - The back end is easy to use and provides nice editing features directly in the browser.

    Drawback:

    - If you are looking for something that can do "everything" and be extended left and right, Etomite is not for you.

    www.etomite.org
    • - If you are looking for something that can do "everything" and be extended left and right, Etomite is not for you.

      For that, my friends, you need to call Dolemite [amazon.com] with his all girl army of Kung-Fu killers!
  • Tech Support. (Score:2, Informative)

    by TCFOO (876339)
    Seth Gotlieb made a good point about companies wanting tech support. Many Companies want a formal tech support solution where they can call someone on the phone to ask questions. I think many of the smaller open source projects are over looked because of the lack of phone support; however, some of the larger projects such as Open Office do provide tech support and are used by more companies because of it.
  • Structure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:20AM (#14557094) Homepage
    The easiest way to quickly filter CMS's is by looking at the navigation structure. Do you want a "tree" structure (like most corporate websites) or do you want a "module" (like slashdot, nuke and other community sites).

    There are other choices that can quickly filter CMS's, but many of the choices have alternatives or can be hacked around. Only rarely will you find a CMS that can handle both navigation structures.
    • Uhh... what about a tree structure where every node on the tree is a collection of modules?

      That was pretty standard when i was building sites a few years ago.
    • Not to join on the crass promoting and further splintering of the market, but SyntaxCMS [syntaxcms.org] handles both modules and a tree structure by default, and even lets developers embed modules within a tree node (site sections in SyntaxCMS parlance).

      That being said, this is more of a web content management platform than a ready-made CMS with comments, registration, etc. out of the box.
  • Too Many (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dkuntze (867585) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:22AM (#14557105)
    I think the OpenSource CMS market is getting too flooded... Do we really need another PHP/MySQL CMS? I know some people who are developing a commercial CMS product. I think they are crazy, since there are PLENTY of free CMS packages out there. If there is not need for a full blown enterprise CMS, why would you pay for a proprietary "non-free" application? How about a list of Open Source Enterprise Content Management systems? That would defintely be a shorter list.
    • Here's the thing:

      I worked for a state agency. I did some web development for them, but ultimately I wasn't the guy calling the shots on the web site. They evaluated a bunch of CMS's when it came time for a redesign, but they ended up shelling out a ton of money for Microsoft's CMS because they were worried about support. I've long since moved on, but I'm still scratching my head about it.

      It's the same reason commercial software will always have a place. Those of us with confidence in our skills are happ
    • Your friends would be better off starting a business to provide professional support for one of the FOSS CMS systems. It's stupid to reinvent the wheel in this area (especially when their wheel will probably not be as good as the ones that already exist).
      • Your friends would be better off starting a business to provide professional support for one of the FOSS CMS systems.

        Exactly. Besides, the lack of support for FOSS is the main reason for choosing non-free software.
        • FOSS is not short in support offers. In fact, if you have to pay for a commercial CMS, plus it support (that of course, usually dont include deep changing in code), vs paying to some developers of the FOSS (or whoever have deep enough knowledge of it) probably you will end paying less, giving more money to the people behind, helping to improve the product and even could get even the code changed for you specially.

          Also, there are a lot of FOSS projects that give commercial (as in with support) version of t

    • I think the opposite. I think we need more open source CMS systems.

      My first criterion for an open source CMS was that it not be based on PHP, because PHP is a bloated security-hole-ridden crappy language.

      My second criterion was that it support something other than MySQL--both for licensing reasons, and because MySQL doesn't meet the basic standards of database integrity you'd expect from a relational database.

      Once I'd imposed those two criteria, there were only a few options, and I didn't like any of them v
    • Indeed. The CMS market in general is very flooded, not just the Open Source CMS market. However, the *GOOD* CMS market is very small.

      Sadly, most of the open source CMS's are just variations on the same theme. Limited support, limited scalability, limited features, etc...

      Some people don't want to use mySQL. Some people don't want to use PHP. Some people don't want a runtime CMS (where the pages are built dynamically from the database and when you database goes down, so does your web site).

      What I want is
  • Drupal gets my vote (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There are a lot of good CMS platforms out there, but I am going with Drupal [slashdot.org] - it is the one that the FOUNDER of the web uses (Tim Berners-Lee). It is MUCH more than a 'blogging' software - it has many great pluggins, and Google appears to think it is #1 - they donated $49,500 to drupal [communicateordie.com] - which is more than any other CMS got.
  • by jbarr (2233) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:28AM (#14557147) Homepage
    I found the http://www.opensourcecms.com/ [opensourcecms.com] site to be invaluable when choosing a replacement CMS for my site [jimstips.com]. Its demos and resource links were very, very helpful. In a relatively short time, I was able to browse and try a number of CMS options. once I came up with a "short list", it was just a matter of following the links to the various CMS sites, downloading the installation packages, and testing them out. (That is what took the time!.

    http://www.opensourcecms.com/ [opensourcecms.com] works as a nice Sandbox environment that auto-refreshes every hour or so (ie: each CMS is automatically reset to a clean install, so though you lose anything you try out, you can't mess things up.)

    It's a great way to get an initial feel for various CMS's in one tight place.

    -Jim
    http://gmailtips.com/ [gmailtips.com]
  • by dptalia (804960) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:28AM (#14557151) Homepage Journal
    You can have the best tool in the world but unless you train the people using it in the proper proceedures and process, then it doesn't matter. And someone has to enforce their behavior.

    That being said, I like a comercial solution: ClearCase, (paired with ClearQuest) as it allows me to enforce a certain percentage of behavior through the tool. And when you have people who feel it's their duty to violate process because it "won't work" (they didn't write it) it's nice to have the tool lock them down.

    • CMS != Configuration Management tools.

      ClearQuest is bug tracking (like bugzilla), ClearCase is versioning (like CVS or Subversion)

      Totally wrong group of tools.

      On that note, I happen to be in a RedDot training class as I write this... Their tool (while not free) is super easy to use. I am traditionally trained in Documentum.

      One pet peeve is when people condsider things like Nuke or SlashCode CMS systems. They are really just blogs in my opinion. Not nearly as sophisticated as a real CMS system.
    • Amen.

      Some admin here got sold on Microsoft Sharepoint and set up a server internally. It's such a joke. No one uses it because 1) there's been no training, 2) it's not obvious at all what benefit you'd get from actually using it, and 3) email, IM, and the corporate shared folder hierarchy work.

      Until you get people trained on how to use it and understanding why they should invest their time in it, it's not going to be worth the investment.
  • by Feneric (765069) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:32AM (#14557185) Homepage

    There's been an ongoing discussion about this same topic over at Macintouch [macintouch.com].

    Personally I'm a fan of the Zope [zope.org] / CMF [zope.org] series of content management systems; the built-in CMF is quite powerful and flexible (and actually fairly efficient -- don't be fooled by the slowness of some CMSs built on top).

    There are many such systems. There are some in private use (like Boston.com [boston.com] and Saugus.net [saugus.net]. There are also some commercial options (like Icoya [icoya.com]). Most though are free and open source, like Plone [plone.org], Infrae Silva [infrae.com], and Nuxeo CPS [cps-project.org]. Each has its own focus and tends to do certain things better than the others. Each has its own special plug-ins and extensions, but since they all utilize the same underlying base framework, it's usually a doable thing (although typically not trivial) to port a product from one to another.

    The capabilities of Zope's built-in CMF are also good enough that it's not at all unreasonable to fashion one's own CMS on top of it if none of the existing products seem to suit one's own particular needs.

    • Personally I'm a fan of the Zope / CMF series of content management systems; the built-in CMF is quite powerful and flexible (and actually fairly efficient -- don't be fooled by the slowness of some CMSs built on top).

      We used Zope at our college and after much research decided to go with Plone to update it. I was a little leary of Zope's ZODB at first, but I like it now, though I really like MySQL. I looked at the myriad PHP CMS solutions and none of them did what I wanted them to do. the Python CMS mark
    • Last year, the company that I am working for had an interest in implementing a CMS system for in-house purposes. I ended up evaluating both the Plone/Zope and MSFT's SP/CMS application stacks. I used to work for a portal infrastructure ISV so it was not a big stretch for me to do this.

      I was amazed at how lacking the proprietary (and fairly expensive) stack was and at how wonderfully feature rich and complete the open source stack turned out to be. It was a no-brainer to pick Plone/Zope over SP/CMS yet t

  • For Java Freaks (Score:4, Informative)

    by ckmajor (671798) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:32AM (#14557188)
    There are quite a few Java based open-source CMS like Magnolia (http://www.magnolia.info/en/magnolia.html [magnolia.info]), Apache Lenya (http://lenya.apache.org/ [apache.org] etc. An exhaustive list of Java based open-source CMS can be find here:
    http://java-source.net/open-source/content-managme nt-systems [java-source.net]
    • I wouldn't have left the Java inventor's offerings [sun.com] out of that list.

      In particular, this list summarizes [sun.com] the offerings quite well, to include their Portal Server [sun.com].
    • Apache Lenya is Java-based, but most website and application development is done in XML and XSL.

      Processing of requests is handled by Cocoon's XMAPs, which is XML that decides which "pipeline" matches the requests, aggregates XML files, does XSL transformations, and "serializes" it as a HTML response. It is relatively easy to see the current results so you know exactly what XML you are processing.

      Presentation is handled by XSL. Lenya provides several standard navigation elements such as menus (tree and tab
  • CMS Made Simple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lemkepf (727820)
    I've been using CMS Made Simple [cmsmadesimple.org] for a while. It works very well and is very easy to use. My "not at all computer savy" clients love it and it's worked well for me too. Simple installation, simple page creation, simple menus, simple templating... yea, it's just simple. :)
  • PHPwcms is excellent (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rtilghman (736281)
    I went through this process at the beginning of last year. Downloaded, set-up, and tested multiple CMS products. I ended up going with PHPwcms given its simplicity and user friendly design, its amongthe best solutions out there for standard content sites. CMSMadeSimple was another similar and good solution.

    That said what CMS you choose - open source or otherwise - is entirely predicated on the project. Got a community site? Take a look at Drupal or Mambo, maybe something smaller if it works. Need a sm
  • My Plug For Geeklog (Score:3, Informative)

    by phpsocialclub (575460) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:44AM (#14557321) Homepage
    I am going to put my plug in for Geeklog. http://geeklog.net/ [geeklog.net]

    I use is for the base of many commercial web sites, utilizing the WYSISYG (FCKeditor) page editor and the news manager. It provides an excellent frame work for developing sites on top of, especially if you need a basic website with some extras thrown in.

    It also runs sites such as http://www.groklaw.net/ [groklaw.net] and http://worldmusiccentral.org/ [worldmusiccentral.org]

    By changing the templates or config to eliminate links to the parts you do not need, (example, links pages, polls, etc), you can use the user login, edit, and admin parts to allow your web clients to edit their own pages, saving you the trouble and saving them money in the long run. The templates are completely separate from the code, allowing you to design graphics for the site separate from the code.

    Updates are pretty easy if you keep your custom code out of the main install, a process that is pretty easy if you put your code in lib-custom.php. The code is well written and clear enough for a person with basic php knowledge to hack if they like

    The software is all php/mysql and run efficiently on most linux shared hosts. There are also a wide variety of plugins.

    The forum and developers are responsive to support requests.

    just my two cents from a fan of geeklog,

    it is also available for demo at http://opensourcecms.com/ [opensourcecms.com]
  • "Best" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ukpyr (53793) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:54AM (#14557436)
    I'm about 3/4 through evaluating cms products for my small company. I've read about all the major opensource ones, and even went into the commercial realm. I personally installed/evaled 7 or 8 (I didn't always take notes, some were already losers )

    Here are some things that greatly helped me:

    There is NO awesome templating system. If you have web designers and you have programmers, don't expect something to drop into place with little hassle. We have been deploying html + mod_perl applications using a simple in-house templating system. This is actually elegantly simple compared to some of the systems I looked at. It's all very relative to the staff you have. Personally a JSP taglib solution works best for us (so far)

    There is no one "best" system. People claiming X or Y is clearly superior are either not deploying CMS for a group of users, lack experience as a developer/designer/user, or are just crazy. I know of a Major Company(tm) who management told to the developers use X system for some inscrutable reason after reviewing a lead dev's evaluation list. While on paper X is great, there are a few very annoying problems for the template designers, and they don't have the mandate to go modify the code, which is open.

    Part of the evaluation MUST include every level of person using the product. Developers,designers,managment (reports n such), and end users (archetypal secretaries). I tried to let people know what was happening a few times a week with my evaluations, keeping a blog would be great maybe. Other people accepting your choice is super-duper-key. I got some great feedback from docs on a few occasions that helped me steer my choice.

    Get a clear set of requirements and wish list items established early on. CMS systems can be minimal or very very comprehensive, it's easy to get lost in nth's implementation of webDAV or whatever.

    Blog systems may have elements of CMS in them, but are not (usually) full blown CMS systems. CMSmatrix.org and other great places for data lump all the products together. In my opinion there are about a dozen open source products that are clearly way beyond the blog.

    Last piece of advice which you won't hear very often: if you think you may not need a CMS solution you probably don't! If you have a single site, with some updating you need to do frequently or maybe you want to have a team of designers working on it, check out subversion first and maybe that alone will give you enough of what you want. If you just need templating check out apache's tapestry or cocoon projects.
    • by handy_vandal (606174) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:34AM (#14557868) Homepage Journal
      Part of the evaluation MUST include every level of person using the product. Developers,designers,managment (reports n such), and end users (archetypal secretaries).

      This is so true. End user input is critical, they will make or break the project.

      My dad (rest his soul) was lead programmer (maybe the only programmer, I dunno) for the Star Tribune newspaper, back in the seventies. I was a teenager at the time, he taught me about For-Next loops and so on. Along with the coding, he emphasized:

      The smart programmer ...

      (a) Listens and nods his head while Management says "We want this, We want that" ... (chances are this is all wrong);
      (b) Sits down with end users (secretaries, etc.) for a while, every day, staying out of their way but watching them work, and asking the occasional question;
      (c) Figures out what the end users really want, need, will accept;
      (d) Codes for the end user, then spins the thing so Management thinks they're getting what they (foolishly) asked for.

      Dad called this "going native among the users" (he took his degree in anthropology).

      -kgj
      • by DdJ (10790)
        (b) Sits down with end users (secretaries, etc.) for a while, every day, staying out of their way but watching them work, and asking the occasional question;
        I think this is the single most important thing a software designer can do, and almost nobody does it.
      • Keeping everything simple for the end user should be every developers' top priority.

        The most critical feature for our choice of a CMS was the interface for the content editors. My customer is a small company. The content editor was basically a secretary with few technical skills. I could program anything, but the editing interface had to be simple to use. (The second critical feature was the price. Part of the reason we won the contract was the budget did not include any commercial software.)

        We chose A
  • by kook44 (937545)
    The only perfect CMS: Content gets put into XML with editor of your choice, you pull content into your app either at runtime, or make some custom automated publishing script. Any packaged CMS will be way to bloated, and will be a nightmare to integrate into your architecture. Most likely - you will finding yourself bending your app around the CMS.
  • DotNetNuke [dotnetnuke.com] Growing very quickly, high quality, well managed and well documented.
  • by naelurec (552384) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:12AM (#14557627) Homepage
    A CMS by definition is a content management system. As a result, it is crucially important to determine the content you want the system to manage and how you want the system to manage the content.

    A few starter questions:

    1. What content do I have or expect to have? (web pages? documents? discussion forums? image galleries?)

    2. Where does this content come from? (departments? users? myself? Internet sources? databases? third-party apps?)

    3. How should the system manage this content? (workflows? editors? fine-grained access control?)

    4. How should this content be displayed? (xhtml/css? pdf? print/paper? cell phones? xml? rss?)

    5. How much separation of content and design do you require?

    6. How extensible should the CMS be? (in-house development? modular? out-sourced development? completely opensource?)

    7. What are the administrative requirements? (*nix? mysql/postgresql? apache? php? python?)

    8. What is the anticipated load and can the CMS manage that? (quite different from a 5,000 hits/day site vs 20,000,000 hits/day)

    9. What is the estimated lifetime of the website? What changes to the site are forseeable and should be considered?

    Assuming your doing something more than a personal blog site, most likely pre-existing workflow processes and organizational resources already exist and those should be analyzed when making a CMS choice.

    Don't get overly focused on initial setup times. The cost of administration, development and resources will far outweigh the initial setup costs on all but the smallest of sites.
    • 1. What content do I have or expect to have? (web pages? documents? discussion forums? image galleries?)

      Modern CMS are all web-based. Even Lotus Notes provides much of its functionality through a browser. (Lotus Notes is probably the oldest CMS still being developed, but it is proprietary and commercial. I mention it as the baseline that all younger CMSes are trying to reproduce.) Any decent CMS software should handle discussion forums (now called blogs), and file repositories (for image galleries, but a
  • Most Open Source CMSs aren't much more than blogs or forums on steroids. Very few deal with real content management problems. I still haven't found one that I'm crazy about. I'm trying to work with Apache Lenya [apache.org] right now but it takes a lot of work. Zope/Plone is similar. The power is there for both of them but the initial learning curve is steep.

    Oh, and my biggest pet peeve for any CMS site (or any site) is unreadable URLs. It's OK for some applications but for a site where people will be returning to the

  • I was hoping from the summary for a bit more depth to the article, maybe a few pages in length. Good start at least. There are many differences to consider when comparing open source vs commercial CMS (ex: open source CMS developers tend to be quicker about embracing standards), in addition to the general open source vs commercial software differences.

    There's also a lot of difference between types of CMS, from blog-level packages to easy site builders and Mambo/Joomla-esque packages which are missing a
    • I tried Sitellite for a while and was impressed that it was easy to set up and get going. But, one of the deal breakers for me was the URLs. They just don't make sense. I consider URLs to be an important usability issue. Otherwise, it's a pretty slick CMS.

      • Hi! Thanks for the compliments about Sitellite!

        Not sure what you mean though that the URLs don't make sense... They're SEO-friendly (ie. /index/page-name instead of /index.php?page=page-name) and have a special structure for dynamic requests as well that avoids the .php and ?foo=bar parameter passing. If there's a way you think would be better, I'd love to hear it. :)

        Here's some info on the full workings of our URL scheme:

        http://www.sitellite.org/index/tutorials-story-act ion/story.11/title.url-rewriting [sitellite.org]
        • http://www.sitellite.org/index/tutorials-story-ac t ion/story.11/title.url-rewriting-in-sitellite-4

          That URL is a good example of what I don't like :) Specifically:

          • 'index' in every URL. This doesn't make sense from a user's perspective.
          • 'tutorials-story-action'. This is meaningless to the user. It's exposing the mechanisms of the CMS when the URL should represent the organization/hierarchy of the site
          • 'story.11'. Kind of makes sense but you're breaking an established convention that text after a '.' rep
  • Is it just me, or is ZDnet.au getting a lot of press here today? What's up with that?

    It's interesting that the Australian publication has so much Open Source coverage.
  • chucking the lot (Score:4, Informative)

    by sammy baby (14909) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:13PM (#14558344) Journal
    I'm increasingly of the opinion that for all but the simplest of sites, there just aren't any good "off the shelf" content management systems, unless you have no problem with your site looking like the default installation of whichever CMS you chose.

    Here's the logic:
    1. A very basic site (read: a blog) with a very basic CMS is generally not hard to set up.

    2. The technical issue: as sites get more complicated, the level of sophistication required by the user to install and maintain them increases. (In the extreme case, I submit Xaraya [xaraya.org], a CMS so complicated that trying to create a site as simple as "I just want a page with our contact information on it!" becomes an exercise capable of inducing intra-cranial hemmorage). Additionally, any templating system required grows more and more arcane, until it is essentially indistingushable from the actual programming language in which it's written.For example: the easiest way of getting a Drupal [drupal.org] site laid out and usable quickly is to use the PHPTemplate plugin - in other words, to just write PHP code. David Heinemeier Hansson, no stranger to controversy, went a step further than this and labeled general-purpose CMSes "pipe dreams," [loudthinking.com] and said "I believe the time has come to mark a date in the not too distant future for celebrating the death of the general-purpose content management system." (Not like he doesn't have his own thing to push [rubyonrails.com], but that's as may be. See also Jeff Veen's frustration with open source CMSes [veen.com]

    3. The social issue: as the content management system grows more and more complicated, they become more and more intractable for the average end user. Responsibility for day to day site updates is pushed to the IT department, which is absolutely not where it belongs. (Once again, I give you the one, the only, Jeffrey Veen [adaptivepath.com].)

  • Do you really need one? Wiki- and/or blog-focused software is probably all you need, e.g, Mediawiki and Wordpress.

    If you're a special person that believes pain is necessary by all means use a full-fledged CMS for your site.
  • To this day I'm yet to find a CMS (or even a blog system) with good multilingual support. By "good multilingual support" I mean:

    * UTF-8 everywhere.
    * Templates/autogenerated strings are i18nable.
    * Able to i18n all user-created content. System understands the relationship between alternative versions of posts, etc.
    * Able to choose default language through HTTP content negotiation (get the browser's default).
    * Able to override browser default with cookies.
    * Sys
    • Almost all your points are met by Plone 2.1 with the Lingua Plone extension. I'm using it to create multilanguage sites and it works great.
    • OpenCMS (http://www.opencms.org/ [opencms.org] does what you describe- xhtml is extra work, tho, if you want to use in-place editing (the div's they autogenerate aren't xhtml as far as I can tell).

      Not only does it have multilingual support, the workplace is pretty well localized (english, german, japanese, etc)

      It is a java application, so if you want all this in php, you'll need to look elsewhere.
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • When setting up my geocaching website [cachegurus.com] I evaluated about 10 CMS systems, including Drupal, phpWebSite, Geeklog, Joomla, Mambo, PHP-Nuke, phpWCMS, phpWebSite, Post-Nuke, Siteframe, TYPO3 & Xoops.

    In the end I found that Geeklog was the one with the most intuitive (to me) templating system and was the easiest to add your own code to. I found that most CMS systems are great out-of-the box solutions for doing what THEY want you to do, but adding custom modules and functionality is a nightmare!!

    I wasn't ex

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

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