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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.
Without a doubt, the open-source CMS market is the most crowded of all the CMS categories, with literally hundreds of open- source content management systems to choose from. There is simply no way possible for me to perform an overview of all of the different types of open-source CMS solutions. So for this movie, I'm going to give you a brief introduction into a few of the types of open source content management systems you have available to you and present some of the more popular choices in the open-source space. I'm going to go ahead and get these three out of the way: Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress are far and away the most popular open-source systems on the market today.
In fact, many articles on comparing content management systems only mention these three choices. The truth is these three solutions are so popular and so powerful that almost any search for an open-source CMS will start by comparing these three and weighing their pros and cons. Because of their popularity and community size, I'm going to tackle each of these systems in their own movies in just a moment. For now, just keep in mind that these solutions currently rank as three of the best available on the market today.
Okay, now that those guys are out of the way, I want to discuss some of the more popular and powerful choices that you have when looking for an open-source CMS. Just as before, when I preview some of the hosted solutions, keep in mind that I'm in no way even scratching the surface of what's available. TYPO3 is an open source, enterprise- level content management framework that's built to provide really solid content tools right from the install, as well as providing a larger framework for architecting customized management solutions.
The feature list is too long to mention, but includes things like audit trails and versioning for content, digital asset management tools and user permissions, and content approval tools that can be adjusted to suit almost any workflow. TYPO3 has a long history, being first developed in 1998 and released as an open-source software in 2000. This long product life has led to an extremely mature community that supports and extends the TYPO3 core. Learn more at typo3.org.
Alfresco is another enterprise-level CMS that brings an amazing amount of power and flexibility to medium- and large-size organizations. There are actually two versions of the Alfresco CMS: an Enterprise version that you received through a support subscription, and a Community version that is open source and released to the public. This kind of puts Alfresco in both the open source and proprietary categories, although the license is exactly the same for both platforms. The difference is in how the code is actually supported.
Versions of Alfresco are first released on the Community platform. After a Community release has considered stable, it's then moved into the Enterprise level. Enterprise-level subscribers therefore get solid tested code, and a full range of support. Community members can turn to the community itself for support, but this is certainly not a CMS for novices to start with. It's recommended for developers who have the time and the chops to manage this CMS individually. Alfresco can be hosted through Amazon's cloud servers or installed on a wide array of stacks locally.
Check them out at alfresco.com. Hippo CMS is an enterprise-class CMS built in Java. It has an incredibly powerful feature set that includes multisite support, multilingual support, and editing workflow tools that allow easy comparison between earlier versions of content. It targets medium- to large-size organizations, and focuses on the educational, financial, publishing, governmental, and manufacturing fields. As with most enterprise-level systems, support contracts are available.
Find out more at onehippo.com. Now not all open-source CMSs are built on PHP or Java. Umbraco is an open-source CMS that is built on the .NET framework. It is extremely powerful, but is geared towards developers familiar with .NET. I also need to point out that although open source, Umbraco features an a-la-carte option for purchases that enhance its functionality and ease of use. Check it out at umbraco.org. One of my favorite content management systems is my MODX.
MODX features two open-source platforms: the older evolution platform and the new, rebuilt-from-the-ground-up revolution. MODX's focus on allowing users to have total control over the sites that they design allow it to stand out against some of the other systems with similar feature sets. You can use any HTML and CSS you like and then use MODX tags to inject management features wherever you need them in your sites. It's worth noting, too, that MODX is more of an application framework that has some CMS capabilities, rather than just solely a CMS.
As a result, MODX is highly customizable, and allows developers to quickly build applications through the extensible framework. One note of caution, however: MODX uses its own terminology, and those that are familiar with other systems may be confused by terms that are similar to what they're used to but have different meanings in MODX. You can learn more at modx.com. If you're looking for something smaller, CMS Made Simple is a lightweight, easy- to-use CMS, designed to help you build and run small- to medium-sized sites.
CMS Made Simple is focused on creating simple corporate or organizational web sites, and creating them quickly. Although you can certainly create blogs or portals with CMS Made Simple, it's not the focus, or their strong point. Some of the more notable features include SEO capabilities, simple group management and permission controls, and an advanced menu creation structure. There is a sizable and active development community and a large number of modules that you can install to extend the system's functionality. You can try it out at cmsmadesimple.org.
One CMS that gets a lot of attention from professional designers is Textpattern. Textpattern is a simple CMS that's built with an amazing amount of focus on the site's content. Textpattern has a robust tagging and content management system and is dedicated to the concept of separating content from presentation and structure. As such, the flexibility with which you can reuse and repurpose your content is almost unmatched among other small- to medium-size systems. Learn more about it at textpattern.com.
I know that's a lot to digest, but we really haven't even scratched the surface of what's available in the world of open-source CMSs. In addition to the specific examples I've given here, I also recommend checking out Radiant CMS, Contao, Moodle for those that need a learning management system as well, and Plone. The really great thing about the open-source CMS marketplace is that there really is something for everyone. If you take your time, do the research, and try out various solutions, you're bound to find the perfect fit for your needs.
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