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Where content meets technology

Jan 23, 2006

Content Management Problems and Open Source Solutions

[2/15/2008 Update: If you want a more up to date view of the marketplace, consider buying Open Source Web Content Management in Java.]

[2/25/2007 Update: The original whitepaper has been taken down from the Optaros site. It is somewhat out of date but there still seems to be a considerable amount of demand for it. You can now download it here]

[9/29/2006 Update: I have started to add updated reviews on this blog. Here is an updated and more complete review of eZ publish.]

[My apologies.... With the re-release of our website, the back door that allowed access to the white paper without registration has been closed. Fortunately, this white paper has been published under the Creative Commons 2.5 license so there are other copies floating around on the web. Maybe under Google keywords Seth Gottlieb CMS Whitepaper?. Also I have also seen some of the individual project reviews reposted on SWiK. So, if you like your information free (as in "libre", not "free weekend at a timeshare promotion") you might consider checking these alternative sites.]

I just published an epic whitepaper where I discuss how selecting an open source CMS is different than a proprietary software selection and summarize 15 open source projects:

  • Alfresco

  • Bricolage

  • Drupal

  • eZ publish

  • Lenya

  • Mambo/Joomla

  • MediaWiki

  • Midgard

  • OpenCMS

  • phpBB

  • Plone

  • Roller

  • Twiki

  • TYPO3

  • Zope CMF

The summaries are not to the depth that you would find in the CMS Report (which reviews Midgard, OpenCMS, Plone, and Zope) but they give a high level view of what the project is about.

Here is the abstract:

The open source community has produced a number of useful, high quality content management systems which presents an opportunity to deliver tailored content management solutions without the high licensing or management fees associated with commercially-licensed or hosted software. However, the sheer number of open source CMS projects and the ineffectualness of traditional commercial software selection techniques can make the task of finding the right open source software an intimidating challenge. The strategy of using feature matrices is particularly ill-suited to open source software selection. A more practical approach is to match your needs to a common business problem that others have solved using open source software and engage with the community to learn about their experiences in implementing the solution. Doing so will take advantage of the unique aspects of open source software: the openness of the user community and the transparency of the development process.

The content management use cases that are particularly well served by open source are: informational websites, online periodicals, collaborative workspaces, and online communities. This paper briefly describes some open source projects that have been successfully applied to support these use cases and gives techniques for how to engage with the community. While open source is frequently and successfully used as an alternative to custom development of unique solutions, the use of open source software will be the topic of another white paper or case study.
Feedback is welcome in the comments. If you want more information, feel free to contact me directly.