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Content Management Systems

Software for Maintaining Web Sites


Setting up web sites has been an effective way for groups and organizations to publish information to the world. A click on a link is typically all it takes for somebody to access that information. Maintaining that information however is not quite as simple, especially if more than one person provides content and makes updates to the web site.

Therefore, various tools, called content management systems (CMS), have been developed to simplify this process. In particular web based content management tools provide a convenient and effective way for groups of people to collaboratively work on a web site, even if they are spread out geographically all over the globe.

The open source software package Drupal has emerged as one of the most popular tools for organizations and individuals to maintain their websites. It is estimated that about 1% of all web sites are powered by Drupal. Besides putting up web pages for personal or corporate web sites, the software includes functionality to run discussion sites, intranet applications, blogs (weblogs), e-commerce applications, and social networking sites. Add-on modules are available for podcasting, collaborative authoring, newsletters, and file transfer. It supports a number of databases systems, including MySQL and PostgreSQL. Drupal is a little more difficult to learn initially, compared for example to Joomla, but once you masted it you have more options to build web sites with the functionality and design you want.

A great alternative to Drupal is Joomla!, which is a fork from the Mambo CMS. It is a little easier to learn initially, comes with great themes, but doesn't have quite the wide range of features and options that Drupal has. It is implemented in PHP and MySQL and includes many useful features such as blogs, forums, searching, calendars and polling. It uses advanced technology for performance enhancements and security. As open source projects, both software packages can be downloaded and used free of charge. Both come with excellent community and developer support.

WordPress is also a good option, especially if you are a beginner. It is easy and intuitive to set up and use. The original focus of WordPress was blogging, and therefore is a good choice if your website is centered around blogs.

A system with similar functionality, but slightly more focussed on web portal setup and management, is XOOPS, which can be used to quickly set up and manage a wide variety of web sites, such as community web sites, company web portals, intranets, and blogs. XOOPS stands for eXtensible Object Oriented Portal System and is also implemented in PHP and MySQL.

MODx provides not only a CMS and also a web application framework. It facilitates deployment of applications written in PHP. For storage it officially only supports MySQL.

Liferay is an open source CMS and web application framework implemented in Java. Liferay uses functional units called portlets and which provide an efficient way to share features between websites. A set of pre-installed protlets constitute the core functionality of the portal system.

CMS Made Simple is another popular CMS that promises to make content managing simple. Like most other popular content management systems it is based on PHP and supports MySQL and PostgreSQL.

Movable Type is a CMS focused on blog publishing, similar to WordPress. It is implemented in Perl.

Last but not least, Magnolia offers yet another advanced CMS, with is available in both enterprise version with support, and free community version.

In conclusion, each CMS has its strength and weaknesses. Which one is the best for you therefore depends on which aspects are most important for your task or application.

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