what exactly is a CMS? part two (sponsored post)

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My last Marqui-sponsored post was a basic introduction to what a content management system (CMS) is. This post continues with some discussion of different kinds of CMS systems, and the costs and tradeoffs associated with them.

As I mentioned in the previous post, if you use weblog software (Movable Type, Blogger, WordPress, Expression Engine, etc), or use a courseware systeem to create materials for a class, you've used a CMS. A special-purpose CMS, which may not bill itself as such, but a CMS nonetheless.

While it's possible to convert tools like MovableType into content managers for complex dynamic web sites, it's a challenge. The software isn't designed to support a number of critical enterprise-level CMS aspects, such as workflow management. In many web publishing environments, content goes through a number of processes before being published. With weblog software, the author of a "post" (or content) typically edits and publishes his or her work on the site. In many publication environments, however, the author submits content to an editor, who may submit the work to a section editor, and possible a site editor. There's no way built into most lightweight CMS systems to support this type of workflow.

The process of deciding on a CMS for a specific application depends on a wide range of aspects.

First, where do you want the software to run? If you have a server that can handle the traffic and files, and staff who are able to install and maintain the software, you can opt for a package installed on your own systems. If you don't have those, however, you may want to look at a hosted solution.

If your content management needs are fairly simply, you may be able to use a lightweight CMS and adapt it to your needs. However, if you need a higher level of customization or workflow management, you'll probably want to look at a higher-end system.

If your organization is committed to open source software, there are a number of packages that allow you to create your own CMS, from lightweight options like WordPress and TextPattern to heavier-duty tools like Zope and Mambo.

While I've yet to immerse myself in the Marqui documentation (that's tomorrow's project), my understanding is that Marqui fills a middle ground. It provides tools similar to those in high-end multi-thousand-dollar packages, but does so in a hosted environment (the software and your content reside on their servers, but can be used to output web pages on your own servers). I'll be talking more about Marqui in a post that's scheduled for Monday.

Here are some links for more information on CMS options:

CMS Information Sites
* How to Evaluate a CMS
* CMS Watch
* CMS Review
* The CMS Matrix
* PC Magazine Product Guides & Reviews: Content Management Systems

Open Source CMS
* Mark Pilgrim: Freedom 0 (Why open source matters.)
* opensourceCMS.com
* Open Source Content Management List

2 Comments

Another important thing to look for in a CMS is how accessibile the interface is and how accessible the HTML is that it produces. The W3C's Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines(ATAG) work really well as a tool for someone to determine this.

I know there is a movement within Word Press to get it to comply with the first level of ATAG.

btw, you might want to take a look at your most recent trackbacks.

you gotta hand it to the spammers, they'll think of all sorts of ways to spread their, ahem, "message" out there. in a way, I suppose they're like religous zealots, only with money being their god.

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This page contains a single entry published on January 29, 2005 4:50 PM.

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