Skip to main content

Digging deeper into CMS requirements (#1: Technical Requirements)

I recently posted about the fabled CMS requirements, providing my own categorization without any further elaboration on what the different req's imply.

Today I'm gonna fill in the holes on the first category, Technical Requirements:

Technical requirements are the obligatory basic needs of the environment, hardware and software hosting and maintaining the WCMS.

The successful deployment of a WCMS depends on many information infrastructural circumstances and politics like management priority, user acceptance and technical feasibility. As will be declared in a later post, the main requirement of a WCMS is extensibility, and the one who has to make use of this requirement is indeed the developer responsible for deploying and running the WCMS in-house of the intended organization or corporation.

The hardware requirements and costs have not been a main issue in my experiences with maintaining CMS. I therefore disregarded the still very crucial requirements of scalability, availability and security. When professionally auditing WCMS solutions these requirements must be considered.

The WCMS may rise or fall by the outcome of these developer tasks.

Deployment

Developers are responsible for installing the WCMS, not only the first time, but they are also the ones performing redeployment when upgrades are necessary or patches are released from the vendor. If the process is cumbersome, this will happen with a low frequency and lead to a compromised and outdated WCMS. If it is not easy to migrate old content from the old installation to a newer one, the developer will quickly tire of the process and opt to management for choice of a different WCMS,

Integration

Infrastructural services such as e-mail, user directories and existing services should often be interconnected into the WCMS, and this will perhaps be the largest task the WCMS developer is responsible for, depending on requirements and existing information systems within the organization. Larger ECM solutions often benefit from utilizing strategies of service-oriented architecture (SOA), making it easier to integrate new functionality as web-services into the system.

Templates

Default templates and skins are bound for change after acquiring the system. Company logo and themes must be applied, and the CSS-styles applied by the WCMS may not be of the same patterns as the company's graphical profile.

This is not as much a feature as it is a necessity. A company is often judged by the outlook and consistency of its web-site. While the web designers no longer need to author the content of web-sites, they still need full control of the design. Templates allow designing once, and then applying the same design to whole parts of the site in one action.

Older web design tools have created an inclination towards not using mesh templates, where the template is separated into header, footer, left panel, main column, right column, and so on. More modern web design tools have support for working on such composite page design.

Backup

A WCMS is a complex system, and since this type of software is a fairly modern family of information systems, it is prone to experience bugs and crashes where data loss is a risk. Many technicians would argue that the responsibility of making information backup lies outside the WCMS, but there is still a requirement for the content repository to be backup-able in an automated fashion. A home grown file system or smaller database repository may lack support for such tasks.

Monitoring

Monitoring consists of automatically computing statistics and numbers on server usage and display them to the developer in a readable format. For a web-site this includes keeping track of incoming requests from visitors. If site traffic is not monitored it becomes harder to evaluate the returns of the WCMS, and it will quickly loose its favor from the management which weighs the cost of sustaining against these returns.

Logging

Logs are the server's output on relevant activities and processes. If logging is not done properly, it becomes hard to trace the source of errors and crashes.

Most web-servers have tools for monitoring the number of visitors. Traffic can be measured in number of “visits” or “hits”, although number of hits can give a very misleading understanding of how much traffic the web-site is experiencing. Number of visits and average visit length is the correct way to report traffic.



So there you have'em. My next post under this tag will explain the next category: The functionality that provides the management parts of the system, like content creation, publishing, workflow and administration. Stay tuned!

Popular posts from this blog

Encrypting and Decrypting with Spring

I was recently working with protecting some sensitive data in a typical Java application with a database underneath. We convert the data on its way out of the application using Spring Security Crypto Utilities. It "was decided" that we'd be doing AES with a key-length of 256, and this just happens to be the kind of encryption Spring crypto does out of the box. Sweet!

The big aber is that whatever JRE is running the application has to be patched with Oracle's JCE in order to do 256 bits. It's a fascinating story, the short version being that U.S. companies are restricted from exporting various encryption algorithms to certain countries, and some countries are restricted from importing them.

Once I had patched my JRE with the JCE, I found it fascinating how straight forward it was to encrypt and decrypt using the Spring Encryptors. So just for fun at the weekend, I threw together a little desktop app that will encrypt and decrypt stuff for the given password and sa…

Managing dot-files with vcsh and myrepos

Say I want to get my dot-files out on a new computer. Here's what I do:

# install vcsh & myrepos via apt/brew/etc
vcsh clone https://github.com/tfnico/config-mr.git mr
mr update

Done! All dot-files are ready to use and in place. No deploy command, no linking up symlinks to the files. No checking/out in my entire home directory as a Git repository. Yet, all my dot-files are neatly kept in fine-grained repositories, and any changes I make are immediately ready to be committed:

config-atom.git
    -> ~/.atom/*

config-mr.git
    -> ~/.mrconfig
    -> ~/.config/mr/*

config-tmuxinator.git  
    -> ~/.tmuxinator/*

config-vim.git
    -> ~/.vimrc
    -> ~/.vim/*

config-bin.git   
    -> ~/bin/*

config-git.git          
    -> ~/.gitconfig

config-tmux.git  
    -> ~/.tmux.conf    

config-zsh.git
    -> ~/.zshrc

How can this be? The key here is to use vcsh to keep track of your dot-files, and its partner myrepos/mr for operating on many repositories at the same time.

I discovere…

Always use git-svn with --prefix

TLDR: I've recently been forced back into using git-svn, and while I was at it, I noticed that git-svn generally behaves a lot better when it is initialized using the --prefix option.

Frankly, I can't see any reason why you would ever want to use git-svn without --prefix. It even added some major simplifications to my old git-svn mirror setup.

Update: Some of the advantages of this solution will disappear in newer versions of Git.

For example, make a standard-layout svn clone:

$ git svn clone -s https://svn.company.com/repos/project-foo/

You'll get this .git/config:

[svn-remote "svn"]
        url = https://svn.company.com/repos/
        fetch = project-foo/trunk:refs/remotes/trunk
        branches = project-foo/branches/*:refs/remotes/*
        tags = project-foo/tags/*:refs/remotes/tags/*

And the remote branches looks like this (git branch -a):
    remotes/trunk
    remotes/feat-bar

(Compared to regular remote branches, they look very odd because there is no remote name i…

Joining eyeo: A Year in Review

It's been well over a year since I joined eyeo. And 'tis the season for yearly reviews, so...

It's been pretty wild. So many times I thought "this stuff really deserves a bloggin", but then it was too inviting to grab onto the next thing and get that rolling.

Instead of taking a deep dive into some topic already, I want to scan through that year in review and think for myself, what were the big things, the important things, the things I achieved, and the things I learned. And then later on, if I ever get around to it, grab one of these topics and elaborate in a dedicated blog-post. Like a bucket-list of the blog posts that I should have written. Here goes:
How given no other structures, silos will grow by themselves This was my initial shock after joining the company. Only a few years after taking off as a startup, the hedges began growing, seemingly almost by themselves, and against the will of the founders. I've worked in silos, and in companies without the…

Automating Computer Setup with Boxen

I just finished setting up a new laptop at work, and in doing so I revamped my personal computer automation quite a bit. I set up Boxen for installing software, and I improved my handling of dot-files using vcsh, which I'll cover in the next blog-post after this one.

Since it's a Mac, it doesn't come with any reasonable package manager built in. A lot of people get along with a combination of homebrew or MacPorts plus manual installs, but this time I took it a step further and decided to install all the "desktop" tools like VLC and Spotify using GitHub's Boxen:

  include vlc
  include cyberduck
  include pgadmin3
  include spotify
  include jumpcut
  include googledrive
  include virtualbox

If the above excerpt looks like Puppet to you, it's because it is. The nice thing about this is that I can apply the same puppet scripts on my Ubuntu machines as well. Boxen is Mac-specific, Puppet is not.

It was a little weird to get started with Boxen, as you're offered…