Choosing a content management system redux

I blogged about choosing a content management system and we’ve finally managed to deploy the resulting system. It would be fair to say that choosing a content management system is a nightmare. And, anybody elses experience probably won’t help you very much unless you share the same set of requirements.

Our requirement was largely shaped by the e-commerce system we run on our main website. It is a big blob of a Java system running under JBoss all front ended by Apache.

That’s why I don’t think there is much for anybody else to take away from our experience. Had we not had to contend with the JBoss hosted system our choice would have been completely different.

In the end we went with Drupal as our CMS of choice, not because I particularly like it, but because it was the best of the choices we could successfully integrate into our system.

My favourite was OpenCMS, but as a Java based system, it would have had to be integrated into JBoss and we couldn’t find a satisfactory way of achieving that. OpenCMS works exactly the way I would expect a CMS to work. It removes all of the pain out of managing a site and is flexible in how to manage your content.

Selecting a content management system

One of the great discoveries I made whilst writing this blog has been the ease with which I can create posts using WordPress as the content management system (CMS). It started good and it just keeps on getting better.

I’d love to be able to update content on the rest of the site just as easily. Unfortunately, as things stand at the moment, updating the site means wading waste deep in PHP. All changes to the website need to go through either myself or Dean, slowing things down considerably.

In order to ease the burden of creating content we’ve decided to implement a CMS across the entire site. So far the evaluation list looks like this:

  • Plone – Python/Zope based CMS;
  • Drupal – full power CMS with a full power learning curve;
  • Joomla
  • WordPress – can’t be beaten as a blogging platform but how well does it work as a vanilla CMS?
  • Typo3 – a quirky full power CMS with versioning and workspaces. My fave so far;
  • MODx – a bare bones CMS that is Dean’s favourite;
  • OpenCms – full featured Java based CMS. Kinda like Typo3 without the goofiness.

I will let you know how the evaluation goes. One thing I have noticed with open source CMS, the documentation is king. The Typo3 documentation is the best of the lot that I’ve seen so far. With large complicated systems like CMS you need a way to ease yourself into the software. Surprisingly, only Typo3 has a simple tutorial to setting up your first site for the most recent release. Drupal is an incredibly powerful tool but the documentation needs a lot of work.

Update 1: Added OpenCms, dropped Drupal, Joomla and WordPress.

Update 2: Forgot about Plone…not suitable because we’d not have enough control.