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Updated 26 September 2005, 11:39 by PremekBrada

An Evaluation of Selected Open Source CMS Systems

Přemek, April 2004

For some of my websites, I need a CMS (content management system). This page summarises my experiences and feelings about those that I have come across and maybe even thoroughly evaluated.

The project was initiated by the needs of my websites and the How to evaluate a content management system paper by Step Two designs. I would also like to include ideas from "analysis report by Ariga":http://www.ariga.cz/saa1.html about requirements on CMS systems as well as look at "Jeffrey Veen's famous article":http://www.veen.com/jeff/archives/000622.html .

Prerequisites and Standpoint of the Evaluation

Before reading the results, please have a look at the following so that you know what to expect:

  • Types of websites considered for the evaluation, i.e. what kind of web structures I'd like the CMS to support, were primarily company/departmental presentation with tree organization and mostly "permanent" content;
  • Evaluation criteria used to rank the CMSes? include ease of installation and use, content structuring and templating system, as well as quality of generated output and avoidance of simplification of website structure;
  • LAMP(Linux-Apache-MySql?-PHP) platform with open source availability was a must-have feature.

This approach resulted in a pre-selection of some CMS systems, and the ranking of the evaluated ones as shown just below.

The CMSes Dissected (The Results)

So far (9/2004), I have had a deep look at the following (a-z order): Mambo, PostNuke, Textpattern. Yet to come are: Drupal, WordPress, type3, XOOPS.

a strong workhorse, esp. when beefed up with plug-ins, but ouch the templating; details in MamboEvaluation
simple effective solution for smaller (mainly personal) sites; details in TextpatternEvaluation.
TBD; details in DrupalEvaluation.
TBD; details in XoopsEvaluation

Below the Bar

known and popular ... and skipped. I do not want a CMS from people who are not able to create an understandable, accessible and navigable website... Details = the accessibility test story: I want to try the thing - where is "download" from the title page? [answer is "under pnNews"...] Where is the installation manual? Not in the distro... Maybe in pnSupport, huh! the first article there is "PostNuke? tutorial in Indonesian language", eh..., no link in pnSupport Main Menu either (why do they call it "support"?)... Back to title page...wait a minute, how do I get back? the "Postnuke" logo is not clickable... aha, see the tiny tiny pnNavigator?... Finally I found the installation manual under FAQ, heavy with the "click here" syndrome and - surprise - on an external website... That was the give-up point for me.

Background note: how I got to this eval

Having authored HTML in vi for years (started in ca 1995), I learned the benefits of good editors like dreamweaver and have used them for about 5 years now. But (1) the web should be editable in itself [todo: find link to supporting docs from TBL], (2) dreamweaver grows in features, weight, startup time, consumed screen space etc, and yet 95% of time I use it just as a WYSIWYG editor for simple markup, (3) for other web content authors, which I co-operate with, dreamweaver and similar are a bit too complicated -- all they need is just to put pieces of information on the web.

So I tried WikiWiki?, and I like it for its near-purity of hypertext idea implementation, but (1) it is a flat system, not a hierarchy, and most websites are not flat, (2) it mostly promotes open access to the authored content (for a good reason), but sometimes you really need only those responsible for the content to have write access.


Feel free to put your comments to this evaluation below; please date and sign them. Thanks, Přemek.