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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.
At some point, you're going to start the process of comparing content management systems on your own. One of the things that you're going to realize fairly quickly is that the CMS marketplace is extremely crowded. Making comparisons between feature sets, platforms, and other requirements can be very difficult, if not downright tedious. That's why I want to show you a couple of sites that can really help you refine your search and give you some tools to help you focus on the systems that best meet your needs. So the first site I want to show is CMS Matrix, and you can find this at cmsmatrix.org. And this is a really cool site that will give you some idea as to how many different CMSs are out there and then give you some tools to compare these CMSs.
Now the list oldest of CMSs here isn't comprehensive, but it is huge. So let's say I want to compare two relatively similar CMSs, like CMS Made Simple and Textpattern. So what I want to do is I would just go ahead and scroll down and find the ones I'm looking for. So the first one I'm looking for is CMS Made Simple, so I'm just going to put a little check mark beside that, and then I want to go all the way down and find Textpattern. Okay, and sometimes it take a while to get all the way down to the bottom of this list.
Now that I have selected the two that I want to compare--and you're not limited to two; you can certainly do more than that. I'm going to scroll back up to the top and click on the Compare button. Now after a little bit of time, I get a comparison window that comes up. Notice that it gives me a list of system requirements. So it tells me what type of application server these need to be hosted on. It gives me a sectional security, so I get to see what types of security features these have, what type of support features they have, ease of use, performance, management.
This is really cool. You get to compare features such as web statistics, and you can see also here if the feature isn't a part of the core, you'll notice that it'll list if it's a free add-on or not. Now if you want to know a little bit more about these features and exactly kind of what they are, just hover over them. So Online Administration, for example, it says, "Can the system be completely managed through a web browser?" It's not going into a lot of detail here. We're not getting drilldown menus about what makes this feature different from this feature or how it executes this specific feature.
But it gives you a nice idea as to exactly what type of feature sets both of these have, and the feature sets are exhaustive. Notice that we're not even a quarter of the way through it yet. You've got Interoperability, Flexibility, Built-in Applications, Commerce. So that means there is a ton of features that are being compared here when you want to check out these different CMSs and see what features they share, that sort of thing. Now also notice here that CMS Made Simple was last updated in 2009, Textpattern last updated in 2007. Now, I don't think that's entirely accurate.
So again, some of this information might be a little dated. So if you're interested in a CMS, don't just trust exactly what you see here. Go out to CMSs web site and verify the information. Now another site that I wanted to show you was opensourceCMS, which is a great place to go to find demos for some of these CMSs that you might want to try out. It's a relatively odd URL. It's php.opensourcecms.com. Now what I like about this is they have just a full list of demos. Some of them are available right here on the site; other ones are available on the CMSs web site itself. And some of them are just live demos, you can just jump right in and start using them; some of them you need to download and install to use the demo.
What I really like is notice that for the CMS demos over here, they have them separate by categories. So if you needed eCommerce, if you needed e-Learning, you can go ahead and filter by those categories. I'm just going to say CMS / Portals, and notice it has 131 different demos. Now in terms of the CMSs themselves, notice that they also have user-generated ratings, which sometimes you can find those to be fairly valuable. And let's just say I go down and I want to check out a different CMS, maybe Concrete this time or Contao Open Source.
So I'm going to go to Contao. So now I get a little bit more information about the CMS. Notice that I get user ratings. I get a screenshot of it. Sometimes it's just a promo shot like you're seeing here. Other times you'll actually see the admin interface. It gives us an overview of when it was started, when it was last updated, languages that might be available, whether or not it has a description. Some of them have lengthier descriptions than others. One of my favorite features is right down here on the bottom. We get a section dedicated to user comments. So you can read comments from people who've actually used the CMS, and this really presents the CMS in sort of warts-and-all look.
Some of the comments are going to be favorable obviously, some of them not so favorable. You just need to filter them out with the expectation that these are user- generated comments, and some of them are going to be valuable to you, some of them not so much. So I'm going to scroll back up, because this is what we really came for. Notice that we have a link to the open-source demo. So we have a demo, and it's available offsite, and you just click to follow a link. It'll take you to where the demo is, and in some cases, as I mentioned before, you're going to have to download and install demos. In other cases, it'll take you right to a live demo where you can start plugging stuff in, playing around with the system, seeing how the admin panel works.
So this is a really cool resource if you want to delve deeper into a CMS that you might be interested in and you want to see if there is a demo available for that CMS. Now finally, I want to show you another comparison web site, and this one is cmsmatch.com. It's a lot like the CMS Matrix in that it compares multiple CMSs to one another, but it's a little different in terms of how it compares the feature sets and how it displays them. Now first, you don't have to just compare something. If you want, you can just browse. If you know you want to browse for a specific content management system, you can go up to the menu, go to Browse > Content Management, and you get a full list of all of the content management systems that are reviewed on this site.
So let's say I want to learn a little bit more about say Joomla! So if I click on the J, I'm going to have to scroll through all of the CMSs that are available. And again going to these sites gives you an idea as to how extremely broad the CMS market is, and how crowded a marketplace it is. So here we have Joomla! Notice that each of the CMSs receive a score, and they receive a percentage. This is based on their ratings. This is based on user feedback. So there is lot of information available here. If I click on the name, I get a little bit more of an in-depth review of the actual CMS.
So we get a little overview of it. It gives us a cost. If I scroll down, I can see that I get ratings on individual aspects of the CMS. So Core Applications, Content Management, I'm getting ratings based off of 100. And if you scroll down, you get a lot more information. You get some screenshots, functionality, page editing. So here we have a more sort of a deeper drill-down into all the feature sets available for this particular CMS.
Now if you want to compare two CMSs to each other, we just go to Compare section. In this case, it allows us to compare up to ten CMSs, and what's really about this is it allows us to export this data in a CSV file, so that you can pull this back and place this information in a spreadsheet. So let's say again I want to compare oh! I don't know, let's say Drupal and Joomla! So if I remove the CMSs that are already in the list, all I have to do is scroll down and find the ones that I want. And again, this time we're going to do Drupal and Joomla, so I'm going to add Drupal, and then I'm going to scroll down a little bit further and find Joomla! Here it is.
We'll add that, and we'll go ahead and compare those two. So here we have a graph showing the respective ratings in different sections. It's a lot like the bar graph we saw earlier. It's just comparing different scores. This is very helpful when you have multiples. you don't want to get more than two on here, because that can get crowded pretty quickly. So I kind of like having the line graph. And then you get to see their rating, user feedback, and all sorts of different information. Again, it goes through all the feature sets. It kind of gives you information about whether it's available as a core feature, whether it's available as a plug-in, or add-on, or weather it's not available at all.
It's a nice way of sort of going and comparing these CMSs head to head. Whenever you see a little question mark here, you can hover over that, and you can get some more information on that particular feature. So if you need a little bit additional background on a feature and you're not got quite sure what it is, that can help you out. Again, all you have to do is come right down on the bottom and you can export that out as a CSV file. So these sites are great resource, and they're going to help you find, review, and compare all of your candidate content management systems. Now don't forget that no matter how good the review is on one of these sites, or how impressive its feature list is as you scroll through it, you can never really properly evaluate a CMS without first trying it out, and that's why I really like the opensourceCMS site that took you to where you can go find some demos.
I really recommend using sites like the one I'm showing you to compare them to narrow down your choices, and then go to the opensourcecms.com to see if there is an available demo. Then go ahead and download and install that demo, or just try it out online, and make sure you try out all of your candidate, so that you get a real feel for which of these CMSs is going to right for you and your workflow.
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