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* Building Your Website: CMS Review
Posted Nov 20, 2003 - 10:36 AM
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Website Building Tips A Review and comparision of Content Management Systems

Review of Content Management Systems

History and Short List Of OpenSource CMS

Open source CMS systems appear attractive since they are free (except in terms of support) and they appear to come with a rich selection of functional modules. There are many (too many) of them, most derived or copied from Slashdot or PhpNuke.

PhpNuke and its derivatives are sometime referred certainly to as slashclones - software packages designed to run sites that end up looking by default very much like the wildly successful tech-news site Slashdot (but ported to php). The point is that the Slashdot model - a webloggish front page with long spurs of commentary off each post, and many categories by which to organize the news - is adaptable to things that look much more like, well, that content that you want to manage (Ref: Mike Sugarbaker article) .

BUT the slashdot and the phpNuke derivatives by and large share various features:

  • Designed by techies for use by techies
  • Not very end user friendly for the person in the street
  • Rudimentary if any workflow for content management
  • Rudimentary content hierarchy
  • Can give better support for community software (such as discussion groups) than commercial CMS's
  • Often non existent or poor support for "Sub-sites" or multiple roles and authors.

 PhpNuke

This was the original php version, coded initially by Francisco Burzi in three weeks. But there have been a dozen or more break-aways (forks), some citing personality and control issues, plus a perceived undisciplined approach to bug tracking and testing.

 PostNuke

The most significant breakaway from phpNuke was PostNuke. But PostNuke itself then suffered from personality clashes and policy disagreements. The code base has become unmaintainable, with each new version introducing almost as many bugs as it fixed. The original PostNuke is limping along, but seems to have lost momentum and not to have any significant vision.

There have been three significant breakaways from PostNuke: Envolution, Xaraya and Xoops (see below). Most took the view that a redesign from the ground up was called for, o­ne difference being that Envolution continued to maintain the PostNuke code and an upgrade path pending their new release whilst others did not. Both Envolution and Xaraya now have betas available, that look promising, but neither yet (May 2003) has even the full set of functional modules that PostNuke had, let alone the "missing" CMS functionality. 

Most of the breakaways are so busy re-coding the core code that they have not really addressed the functional points listed above.

 Envolution

While eNvolution is a fork of PostNuke, the entire core of the product is being replaced and improved, making it far more secure and stable, and able to work in high-volume environments with ease.

Some of the highlights of Envolution are: customization of all aspects of the website's appearance via templates, caching for faster page loads, user friendly administration via the configuration tools in the administration panel, support and a very active development community

 Xaraya

Xaraya is extensible, open source software written in PHP. Xaraya utilizes robust permissions, data management and multilingual systems to dynamically integrate and manage content (they claim).

Xaraya's modular, database independent architecture introduces tools which separate form, function, content, and design. Xaraya delivers the requisite infrastructure for a fully dynamic multi-platform Content Management Solution (CMS).

 Xoops

XOOPS is a dynamic OO (Object Oriented) based open source portal script written in PHP and currently using MySQL. Xoops is an ideal tool for developing small to large dynamic community websites, intra company portals, corporate portals, weblogs and much more.

Includes a good integrated forum, but it seems they have not yet implemented professional content management with workflow etc (as opposed to News Stories). Xoops is probably the best of the bunch for pure "community" support with, eg: the ability to search for users by various criteria and send email and private messages to users through a template-based messaging system, There is an integrated Wiki.

 Mambo

[Not actually a phpNuke Derivative]

From a review: "The best parts about Mambo are 1) its orientation towards distributing information and managing content (rather than focusing o­n reader opinions or an "online community"), 2) ease of use including setup and administration, 3) customizable architecture, 4) good administrative interface, and 5) publishing workflow including security. Many sites want to accept articles from contributors (users) but with the ability to review and edit them before publishing. The publishing workflow in Mambo makes this not o­nly possible, but automated and easy. My biggest complaint is the rather superficial implementation of site-subsections."

 Zope and Plone

Plone and Zope are "different" from all the other products discussed. Zope itself is an open source application server for building content managements, intranets, portals, and custom applications. It is an integrated object based development environment with its own web server and database, though it can run o­n Apache or MSIE. Plone is an integrated CMS built o­n and for Zope.

These systems are very powerful, but have a steep learning curve. The default style themes tend to be fine for Techie users, but not the best in usability terms for casual users, and it is by no means easy determining how to change them.

You either love or loath them.

PhpNuke Derivatives (short list)

Product

Platform

Pros

Cons

phpNuke

php, MySQL

None v PostNuke

Code base unmaintainable.

Nerdy image

PostNuke

php, MySQL

Usable,

 But suffers from generic problems.

Envolution

php, MySQL

Good Arena Forum, based o­n phpBB

Improved multi-sites promised

No good Content Mgmt yet

Mambo

php, MySQL

  • Content creation workflow
  • Sub-categories
  • Forum (?email subscription).
  • But all users can see everything?
  • Poor support for multi-sites?
  • Some elements commercial

Xaraya

php, MySQL

Clean start

Immature, no forums or Content Mgmt yet

Xoops

 php, MySQL

  • Object Oriented
  • Good group permissions, user management (claimed)
  • Worth a try?
  • Still Nuke clone???
  • Weakish o­n Content Mgmt

 

Plone

 Zope

  • Good workflow
  • Discussion group

Steep learning curve?

 

Other Open Source Systems

There are in fact many other slashdot and phpNuke derivatives, most sharing certain characteristics in varying degrees:

 Common Pros

  1. Good for news articles or stories.
  2. Good for user interaction and community support (except that Friends may not be ready yet to use them properly)
  3. Good wide range of standard functional modules with a consistent look and feel, both for users and administration. These include Downloads, Reviews, FAQ etc etc.
  4. Wide range of third party functional modules.
  5. Tailorable visual themes
  6. Wide range of excellent integrated Discussion Groups, including versions of phpBB, Arena, SuperBB (ex Cyboards)
  7. Database abstraction layer (PHP-ADODB Compliant).
  8. Integrated navigation
  9. Integrated user database (though not particularly accessible without coding).

Common Cons

  1. Dodgy code base, unless re-written in which case most systems are not yet mature enough, except possibly Xoops and Mamba.
  2. Weak content management, tends to be missing (Note BYM2002 uses Content Express module, which is just adequate but not suitable for big time use in  BYM).:
  3. Permissions hard to use.
  4. Multi-site operation hard to set up.

Review of Other CMS Systems

Product

Platform

Pros

Cons

Aegir CMS

php, MySQL

  • Role based workflow
  • Good content mgmt.
  • Uses the Midgard engine

No discussion groups!

Dcp-Portal

php, MySQL

 

Yet another Nuke clone

Drupal

php, MySQL

Better Content Management than some.

Otherwise yet another Nuke clone.

e107

php, MySQL

 

Yet another Nuke clone

eZ publish

php,

Forums

Semi-commercial

FreeWPS

php, MySQL

 

Immature

MySource

php, MySQL

Open source base

Forums

Commercial add-on modules, inc Forum.

Weak content mgmt (= a Nuke under the skin?)

OpenCMS

Java / XML, o­n Linux, Apache, Tomcat, MySQL
  • Users and permissions
  • Project based publishing
  • Versioning
  • Templates
  • Module API
    • No discussion group?

      php Website

       

      Appalachian State Uni

      Student projects?

      UCMS

       

       

      Yet another PostNuke clone?

      Some of these seem to have taken the Open Source Nuke clone code, tidied it up and added their own proprietary extension modules or services. The purists decry this, but the suppliers are just trying to make a living.


      Conclusion o­n Open Source Systems

      Most of the Open Source systems are strong o­n "community" sites, with news and Forums, but weak o­n Content Management. But Friends have (yet) to take to heavy o­n-line community in a significant way.

      The best of the bunch are Xoops (for excellent community support) or Mambo (for good enough community support and better CMS workflow). Either would do for a simple site, but neither quite makes it for the full BYM requirements. We need corporate content management with full permissions, workflow, version control etc etc. [Mambo has this, but not with the full multi-site and multi-section support needed eg for BYM].

      And then there is Zope / Plone, which could for the basis of a self-development system. But do we really want to go there?

      So it may be time to move o­n from the Open Source systems, unless there is something I have missed, although some of the newer re-writes may get there eventually,

      "Proper" Content Management Systems

      The following are "proper" content management systems, to varying extents, but many or most do not have discussion groups. Most are low-end commercial, costing from £1,000 up to £20,000, but bear in mind that there would be additional consultancy or tailoring costs.

      All worth a further look:

      Product

      Platform

      Pros

      Cons

      13Amp Sparkplug

      Coldfusion MX

      (but you can publish to HTML for static content, so no extra cost.)

      • That's better,
      • Very good commercial CMS,
      • Templates
      • Multi-site support
      • Roles, workflow, versioning.
        • No discussion group
        • Extensible manually o­nly
        • $500 or $1,000
        • Needs Coldfusion MX

        Aegir CMS

        php, MySQL

        • Role based workflow
        • Good content mgmt.
        • Uses the Midgard engine

        No discussion groups!

        Ariadne

        php

        • Looks good.
        • Basic
        • Different!, Might be OK
        • No discussion groups?

        CompleteContent

        Javascript ASP??

        • Uses SW "patterns"
        • XML based
        • Good o­n publishing
        • No discussion groups?
        • £20,000 initial

        HardCore Web Content Management

        asp and php

        Any DB

        • Create, publish, manage your website via templates, editor.
        • Micro-site support (pro version).
        • Commercial: £100 to £1,000
        • Community Add-on modules with user admin, discussion groups etc available in May/June 2003 at extra cost.

        immediacy

        • Any server
        • ASP/COM or JSP/EJB
        • SQL2000, Oracle 8i
        • Clean, easy to use, mature
        • Central XML content repository
        • £12,500
        • Community support?

        OpenCMS

        Java / XML, o­n Linux, Apache, Tomcat, MySQL
        • Users and permissions
        • Project based publishing
        • Versioning
        • Templates
        • Module API

          No discussion group?

          Plone

           Zope

          • Good workflow
          • Discussion group

          Steep learning curve?

          Terminal Four

          • Java;
          • JDBC database
          • Good workflow, publishing.
          • Irish
          • No community support?
          • Commercial, price?
          • Community support?



          For A Detailed up to date Review of Content Management Systems, Look at http://www.cmsinfo.org/




          Community consensus o­n CMS Results of Feb 2002

               
          Feb 3, 2002
          Borrowed from http://www.linuxlookup.com/html/articles/cms_results.html


          Easiest setup/install (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1199 (19%)
          SlashCode 99 (1%)
          PostNuke 3509 (55%)
          myPHPNuke 660 (10%)
          XOOPS 836 (13%)
          Most Versatile (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1397 (22%)
          SlashCode 176 (2%)
          PostNuke 3476 (55%)
          myPHPNuke 550 (8%)
          XOOPS 704 (11%)
          Most innovative (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1243 (19%)
          SlashCode 165 (2%)
          PostNuke 3333 (52%)
          myPHPNuke 418 (6%)
          XOOPS 1144 (18%)
          Cleanest code (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 924 (14%)
          SlashCode 242 (3%)
          PostNuke 3476 (55%)
          myPHPNuke 407 (6%)
          XOOPS 1254 (19%)
          Best theme implementation (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1617 (25%)
          SlashCode 132 (2%)
          PostNuke 3091 (49%)
          myPHPNuke 462 (7%)
          XOOPS 1001 (15%)
          Best module implementation (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1540 (24%)
          SlashCode 88 (1%)
          PostNuke 3388 (53%)
          myPHPNuke 330 (5%)
          XOOPS 957 (15%)
          Best performance (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1122 (17%)
          SlashCode 792 (12%)
          PostNuke 2948 (46%)
          myPHPNuke 484 (7%)
          XOOPS 957 (15%)
          Leader in development (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1430 (22%)
          SlashCode 286 (4%)
          PostNuke 3443 (54%)
          myPHPNuke 330 (5%)
          XOOPS 814 (12%)
          Best bug response time (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1034 (16%)
          SlashCode 275 (4%)
          PostNuke 3773 (59%)
          myPHPNuke 484 (7%)
          XOOPS 737 (11%)
          Best out of box functionality (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1144 (18%)
          SlashCode 132 (2%)
          PostNuke 2794 (44%)
          myPHPNuke 605 (9%)
          XOOPS 858 (13%)
          I still had to do a lot of customization 770 (12%)
          Best overall CMS (6303 votes)
          PHPNuke 1188 (18%)
          SlashCode 242 (3%)
          PostNuke 3355 (53%)
          myPHPNuke 539 (8%)
          XOOPS 979 (15%)



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