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Open source CMS evaluations

I have now seen three more or less serious open source CMS reviews.

First guy to hit the field was Matt Raible (1 2 3 4), ending up with Drupal, Joomla, Magnolia, OpenCms and MeshCMS being runner-ups.

Then there is
OpenAdvantage that tries out a handful (Drupal, Exponent CMS, Lenya, Mambo, and Silva), including Plone which they use for their own site (funny/annoying that the entire site has no RSS-feeds, nor is it possible to comment on the articles), following Matt's approach by exluding many CMS that seem not to fit the criteria. It is somewhat strange that OpenAdvantage cuts away Magnolia because it "Requires J2EE server; difficult to install and configure; more of a framework than CMS", and proceed to include Apache Lenya in the full evaluation. Magnolia does not require a J2EE server. It runs on Tomcat just like Lenya does (maybe it's an idea to bundle Magnolia with Jetty to make it seem more lightweight). I'm still sure that OpenAdvantage would 'fail' Magnolia for being too complicated as Matt did.

All websites have a different need, and these two evaluators value ease of setup, use and design-modification (not functional modification). A more enterprise-ish review has been done by Optaros, evaluating for different website needs (brochure, periodical, collaboration, wiki and community). Elegant observation:

Open source content management software is most frequently used in small to medium sized web sites with very common requirements (such as corporate identity websites and departmental intranet sites or online magazines rather than large product websites with hundreds of thousands of pages) and as a foundation for building unique, highly-customized solutions (such as which uses open source components such as Perl, MySQL, and the Mason templating engine).
The paper provides an in-depth evaluation of three or four CMS'es in each of the five categories. I am left with the feeling that the landscape of Java-CMS'es are very far behind the other ones, but still I would prefer to work with a Java-based CMS as it is my language of choice, and because I've fallen pretty much in love the the Java Content Repository. Nonetheless, the paper is an excellent starting point for a small or medium-sized business considering an open source CMS. I wonder if there is a common content repository interface (not Java-dependant). Jackrabbit has (or are on their way to) implemented a PHP-interface for their repository (but still no .net, perl, ruby and python interfaces). In the mean time the closest you get to platform independant content is a database (which is not so good).


  1. Anonymous30/1/06 06:36

    the observations in your post about Magnolia are true to some extent. However, its strong point is that it supports JSR 170.
    Have you looked at ALfresco and OpenCMS yet?

    check this url for some of my comments on open source products -

  2. Thanks for the comment! I've already been subscribing to your blog for 3 weeks, mind :)

    From what I've read about Alfresco it does not really constitute a web CMS. It's more of the file-system kind, or DAM system.

    I would be biased towards Magnolia since we have been working with it for half a year, we did a review of different CMS back then. OpenCms is still a very valid option for us, but unfortunately they use activeX components for their WYSIWYG. Can't be the biggest job in the world to fix, but until then I'm staying clear.

  3. Anonymous30/1/06 11:50

    You are right about Alfresco. It's more of document management. On top of it, it's still in version 1.

    About OpenCMS, i didn't know about the activex bit. But we've recently used it for a project and it works with firefox as well as IE. Also, in case if it is helpful, they've recently integrated FCKEditor [1]. I have no clue how good or bad it is though.

    Oh and btw, i don't work with Alkacon ;-) It's just that i've played around with opencms recently.

    I've also heard good things also about magnolia. Apart from the initial setup and stuff like that, i think it's a decent product. All the best with your evaluation.


  4. FCKEditor should do the trick. In fact it is the same default editor that is used with Magnolia :)

    It is also possible to plug other editors into Magnolia, Kupu for instance.

  5. Anonymous27/7/06 01:20

    Hello Thom. Just came across your comments on our CMS article. Just to clarify my reasoning behind the Magnolia/Lenya split, I favoured Lenya (at the time) purely because of the Apache backing. There wasn't much to choose between them (as far as I remember), but I felt that endorsement as an Apache project gave some weight to Lenya. As far as I can tell, Lenya has slipped from the limelight somewhat, and there's a good chance Magnolia is now a better choice, as it seems to have a more active community.

    I still stand by my other decisions, and would personally favour Plone, Joomla! and Drupal as excellent solutions. I fear that Java-based solutions, while excellent and scalable, are still too heavyweight for most of the situations my clients find themselves in. When a more heavyweight solution is required, I feel Plone to be an excellent fit.

    The point you made about our website lacking comment facilities is a good one, and I'll have a word with our director to see whether it's possible for us to switch these on. Your point about RSS is well-taken too.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Elliot. It is very hard to say one particular CMS is better than another. As you say, we have to rely on our customers' needs, and choose accordingly.

    Lenya seems to be quite active still, but I'm not sure I would trust the quality of software merely because its Apache top level project status. I just spent some minutes playing around with their demo. It looks nice, but I don't find the UI that intuitive to use, and there are a lot of unstable features (editing, searching, publishing).


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