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In CMS Fundamentals, James Williamson defines content management systems (CMSs) and explains their role in web site development. The course demonstrates the different CMS solutions available today, including WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla; reviews CMS terminology and best practices; and shows how to develop a content management strategy. Guidelines are also included for evaluating a potential CMS, whether hosted or self-hosted, open source or proprietary, and choosing a CMS based on a specific need or focus.
In this movie, I want to take a moment to discuss some of the different types of CMSs that you might consider. I don't want to break down specific CMSs just yet, just the different types you're going to encounter along the way. Believe or not, this was actually a pretty hard section to write. There are literally hundreds of CMSs on the market, and trying to pin them down within a single category set is difficult. You could do it by server type, industry focus, feature sets, functionality, code bases; all of these offer an amazing array of possibilities. Later in this title, I'll focus on solution types that you might want to consider when choosing a CMS.
So in this movie I want to start by categorizing CMSs by types that focus on either a specific industry or content type. Most of the time, you can narrow a search for a CMS by first choosing a solution type and then looking at CMSs that specialize in your area of focus. Now before we start talking about the different types of CMSs, I want to first discuss enterprise content management systems. Although enterprise CMSs are a bit outside the scope of this course, I think any characterization of CMSs has to start here.
An enterprise CMS is a robust, scalable solution that usually contains a host of services, including business logic, analytics, and content services. In many cases, a web content management system is a part of the overall enterprise system. These solutions are typically used for large organizations with complex document and content needs. If that sounds like you, you may want to focus on finding a development partner to tailor an enterprise-level solution specifically for your needs.
Now, probably the best place to start when categorizing CMS types is to start what I call the general purpose/portal CMSs. These CMSs don't have a specific area of focus per se, but are designed more to give you control over site architecture, content publishing, and site administration. As a general rule, these CMSs are extensible, allowing you to add blogs, e-commerce, calendars, and other sorts of advanced functionality to your sites. Popular Portal CMSs or Drupal, Joomla!, MODx, CMS Made Simple, and TYPO3.
Blogging software has evolved so much over last 10 years that the majority of blogging platforms can rightly be categorized as content management systems. Because of how these systems evolved, they feature an emphasis on publishing and reusing content, and often feature a blog as a central focus of the site--or at least the initial focus. Popular blogging CMSs include WordPress, Textpattern, ExpressionEngine, and MovableType. An increasing amount of CMSs are being built to target the field of e-learning.
Some of these systems evolve from existing learning management systems while others were initially based off of popular blogging or general purpose CMSs. Because they target the education segment, many of these have built-in modules for curriculums, quizzes, SCORM compliancy, and have content modules built around learning objectives or educational content. This allows many of these systems to manage a wider range of content than most CMSs. Most will allow you to manage PDFs, Word documents, images, video, and audio all as content types.
Some of the more popular e-learning CMSs are Moodle, ATutor, Dokeos, Dot Learn, and Docebo. E-commerce CMSs are an interesting breed. Many are not full CMSs at all; they're really applications built specifically to create and manage online shopping carts or e-commerce sites. This means that usually there used in conjunction with other CMSs or as part as an overall site solution. As you would expect, they focus almost exclusively on the very complicated and sensitive nature of online commerce.
These solutions allow you to manage your products, build shopping carts, and most feature multiple ways to handle billing and securing transactions. Magento, Cubecart, PrestaShop, Zen Cart, and OpenCart are some of the more well-known e-commerce solutions. I also want to point out here that many of the existing CMSs have e-commerce modules, extensions, or plug-ins that add most, if not all, of these features to existing installations. A much smaller group of CMSs allow you to create fully-featured Wikis. By now I am sure you're familiar with Wikipedia or any number of the very popular Wiki's online.
Wikis are unique in that in addition to serving as a repository for information or content, these collaborative sites allow users to contribute or modify content as well, as several CMSs have evolved that focus primarily on creating these Wikis. Tiki Wiki, DokuWiki, MediaWiki, and PmWiki are all popular Wiki-creation and management tools. Finally, I want to discuss a relatively new type of CMS, the social media focused CMS. These systems allow you to create online communities, manage user profiles, tie in to existing social networks, and add features such as instant messaging and content uploading to your sites.
The term CMS is used a bit loosely with most of these solutions; however, content management is at the core of much of what they do. Probably more so than the previous examples, these solutions tend to be a bit more specialized within their category. BoonEx Dolphin, Elgg, Rays, and phpFox are popular examples of social media CMSs. Now I am guessing that if you've had any experience with CMSs at all, at some point in this movie you've said, "Hey! WordPress is more than just a blogging platform," or "You can build powerful e-learning sites with Joomla." Well, this is simply underscores the difficulty in categorizing content management systems.
Most platforms have evolved to the point that they're extremely flexible and can be used for a variety of purposes. Most platforms feature extensions, plug- ins, and modules that help add even more functionality to the mix. This means that although you have an amazing array of choices available to you when choosing a CMS, separating the signal from the noise can be a bit tiring. So a little bit later on this title, we're going to discuss some of the things you should consider when choosing a CMS and give you some additional resources for doing so.
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