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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.
If you start comparing content management systems, eventually you're going to come across the phrase 'support for WebDAV and FTP'. While you're more likely to be familiar with FTP, both of these terms can be confusing to new users, so let's take a closer look at them, how they're related, and why they matter. WebDAV and FTP are both used to upload files to your sites, and usually at least one of these methods, if not both, are integrated directly into your CMS. FTP stands for file transfer protocol and is the most widely used protocol for sending and receiving files over the web.
It's incredibly common, and it's very easy to find FTP clients to transfer your files if your CMS doesn't come with one built in. WebDAV stands for web-based distributed authoring and versioning. It's a bit of a different animal then FTP. First, it's an extension of the HTTP protocol that allows both the reading and writing of documents on a web server. In practical terms, WebDAV provides you with a way to manage files on your web server that's very similar to using a local network drive. Most operating systems have WebDAV built into them, and even allow you to mount web servers just like any other disk.
Depending upon the client you're using, using WebDAV is as simple as dragging files from one folder to another. Of course, it's not always as simple as that, and not all CMSs handle file management the same. Most of the time, you'll simply set up your server information and username and password combination, and the CMS will use whichever protocol it supports or that you've set as a preference. In other instances, WebDAV is integrated directly into the CMS interface to handle versioning and file management. It's also not uncommon for a CMS to have a WebDAV extension or plug-in that will allow you to add this functionality to the system.
If no FTP or WebDAV integration is present, or if the CMS places a limit on the number or size of files that you need to upload, you may have to find and configure an FTP or WebDAV client yourself. Even though if you already have a means of transferring files, you might want to consider this option if available, as you can greatly simply managing files in your CMS. If you're looking at stand-alone transfer clients, some, like FileZilla, are pure FTP clients, while others, like Cyberduck, allow you to use either protocol. You could also use the clients built into most web authoring tools, like Dreamweaver or Aptana Studio.
There are literally hundreds of file management clients available, and most are free or low cost, so you're bound to find something that works for you. Either way, it's best to spend some time checking out the file management and transfer options for any CMS before making a decision as it's such an important part of the content management process.
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