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JimC
2007-04-14, 10:39
All:

I know this is a little off the main topic, but I'm hoping someone here has experience, direct or indirect, with Content Management Systems. We're planning to revamp the slimdevices.com website, mostly to make it easier to update the content, over the next couple of months. While we're doing this, it make sense to consider using one of the CMS offerings out there. It looks like there are some excellent open-source tools out there and I'm hoping you might have some experience with them.

I have a few direct questions:

I've looked for a Perl-based CMS and found nothing. Am I missing something? It looks like we'll end up with a PHP-based system unless we wanted to roll our own (which we don't!).

I'm currently *leaning* toward Drupal, based on what I've found online, but I'd like to see if anyone here has used it, or looked into using, and what their impressions are.

Are there any CMS systems you've worked with the we should just stay away from?


Thanks!

Skunk
2007-04-14, 11:09
I've looked for a Perl-based CMS and found nothing. Am I missing something?

Here are a few: http://www.la-grange.net/cms#perl .

http://www.plainblack.com/webgui (GPL) looked interesting, but I didn't visit all the others.

edit: Also, this looked really useful, e.g. see 'sites using mason'. http://www.masonhq.com/docs/manual/Mason.html

chuckiebear
2007-04-14, 11:26
Bricolage is perl based (I think) at http://www.bricolage.cc/

I've not used it, but I have used Drupal extensively (PHP based). Drupal is extremely flexible and powerful and extendable, particularly if you understand the taxonomy requirements.

Like many CMS's, both require a lot of customisation, although Drupal will work 'out of the box'

Skunk
2007-04-14, 11:53
Like many CMS's, both require a lot of customisation, although Drupal will work 'out of the box'

I generally don't care for portals, but I suppose I wouldn't recognize the well done ones. I did a site using Joomla, which looks to be a lot like Drupal, but prefer the look of the current Slim Devices site to about every template I've seen in Joomla. Not to mention that, frankly, I don't want your ease of editing to slow down my speed of browsing!

The menu here could use some work, but the site doesn't really seem like a lot of updating would be required.

chuckiebear
2007-04-14, 15:10
I generally don't care for portals, but I suppose I wouldn't recognize the well done ones. I did a site using Joomla, which looks to be a lot like Drupal, but prefer the look of the current Slim Devices site to about every template I've seen in Joomla. Not to mention that, frankly, I don't want your ease of editing to slow down my speed of browsing!

The menu here could use some work, but the site doesn't really seem like a lot of updating would be required.

Good points. It depends on the amount of content being turned around here - that is after all the strength of a CMS - that and how easily the content can be managed using metadata & taxonomies. Perhaps a full blown CMS is beyond requirements.

You wouldn't necessarily know that you were looking at a 'portal' since the CMS also seperates the content from the presentation. The CMS based site could look identical to the existing one & take all of the advantages of the backend, its up to the requirements. Drupal sites with little or no customisation look like Drupal sites - others are unrecognisable.

I'd be very wary of some of the other PHP based 'CMSs', some are inherently insecure - though some would also say that about any PHP based site lol.

I've been assuming that we are talking about open source solutions...

Skunk
2007-04-14, 15:46
Good points. It depends on the amount of content being turned around here - that is after all the strength of a CMS - that and how easily the content can be managed using metadata & taxonomies.

Had to google taxonomies, but I'm guessing they are the links to related content at the bottom of an article? If so, I never liked those too much :-)


You wouldn't necessarily know that you were looking at a 'portal' since the CMS also seperates the content from the presentation.

Yeah the first thing I did with joomla (which I didn't necessarily mean to endorse) was get the barebones template. The pages did load more transparently than they do here, after all the bloat was eliminated anyway.

Are the secure pages pretty easy to integrate in? I assume so since a lot of the CMS's have shopping carts. I was also curious if the forums would have to be left out of the CMS? If so a simple widget that allows you to add news to the current site, along with another widget to change for sale items, would seem like a more logical baby-step. Since these are seldom needed multiple log ins shouldn't really be a problem. Note that this is all more of a question than expert testimony :-)

ModelCitizen
2007-04-14, 15:55
The SlimDevices web site looks very simple and it doesn't appear like any of it is, or needs to be, generated from back-end systems. Unless this is due to change I think that most CMS's would be more trouble than they are worth and constitute extreme overkill. Drupal is not particularly well documentated and the resources required to learn and implement the thing (and customise the output) would probably outway any benefits. Not to mention the constrictions it would place on the web design.

I'd just get a copy of Adobe's Contribute and make sure the site used style sheets and DreamWeaver templates with editable regions. Nice and simple and retains the search engine friendly html pages.

Oh, but not open source. But then, the documentation is good.. but as Contribute looks just like MS Word you're unlikely to need the documentation.

Contribute is half the price of a Squeezebox.

MC

JimC
2007-04-14, 15:56
We're definitely looking at Open Source, rather than commercial. It's not really about the cost -- it's about trying to stay consistent with our philosophy of development and because, frankly, it think intelligently built Open Source software ends up working better in the long run. The accelerated pace of change in web technologies just exacerbates the problem of keeping up in a commercial environment.

My goal is to be able to provide easier access to content updating, as opposed to creating a whole new hierarchy for navigation. Also, we need to be able to better support localization and that's an area that CMS really helps simplify the process of deployment.

We get a pretty hefty amount of traffic, so I also want to make sure whatever we use can handle the load and remain responsive. That's the biggest concern I have for a CMS system -- I haven't seen an Open Source option that has the same capabilities as commercial packages in areas like load balancing, failure across servers, etc. Drupal has some work being financed by Google's Summer of Code in this specific area, and it has some reasonably large deployments already, which is one of the things that appeals to me about it.

Rest assured, whatever we do, we're not looking to make radical changes to the website... just make it easier to update and improve the content.

bergek
2007-04-14, 16:30
I started with Mambo, then tried Joomla (which is more or less the same thing). I didn't feel that they suited my needs and were not as flexible as I wanted them. I tried a few others before settling on Drupal. I have liked it from the beginning. Other people will of course choose differently, it all depends on how you want to use it.

I learned Drupal on my personal site (www.bergek.com). After that I migrated our corporate site (www.icomera.com) from static HTML (so 90's) to make it easier for my colleagues to edit the text.

My biggest criticism on most of the CMSes I have tried is that it is often not straightforward to create an hierarchical menu structure that is easily updateable.

chuckiebear
2007-04-14, 16:31
Had to google taxonomies, but I'm guessing they are the links to related content at the bottom of an article? If so, I never liked those too much :-)

Yeah the first thing I did with joomla (which I didn't necessarily mean to endorse) was get the barebones template. The pages did load more transparently than they do here, after all the bloat was eliminated anyway.

Are the secure pages pretty easy to integrate in? I assume so since a lot of the CMS's have shopping carts. I was also curious if the forums would have to be left out of the CMS? If so a simple widget that allows you to add news to the current site, along with another widget to change for sale items, would seem like a more logical baby-step. Since these are seldom needed multiple log ins shouldn't really be a problem. Note that this is all more of a question than expert testimony :-)

Taxonomies offer a very powerful information (content) management solution, the tags you see are just an external manifestation of part of it - the power lies in the ease with which you can manipulate the backend data. Dynamic menu structures can be generated this way too.

Forums, shopping carts, secure areas etc can all be integrated since it is very simple to provide levels of security through roles.

chuckiebear
2007-04-14, 16:39
I'd just get a copy of Adobe's Contribute and make sure the site used style sheets and DreamWeaver templates with editable regions. Nice and simple and retains the search engine friendly html pages.

Contribute is half the price of a Squeezebox.

MC

Hmmm, Contribute on a large site is not the simplest to manage in my experience - or paricularly speedy. I don't know the true size of the SD site or what the plans are, particularly if localisation is an issue.

WRT documentation, although poor in many OS solutions, shouldn't be a stumbling block for the developers of the site and really should not be an issue for the content owners or users of the site. For the developers there is a mass of support available... through forums etc :)

bergek
2007-04-14, 17:06
BTW, this site is quite good if one wants to testdrive different open source CMS (only PHP/MySQL versions though): www.opensourcecms.com.

peterw
2007-04-14, 17:20
We get a pretty hefty amount of traffic, so I also want to make sure whatever we use can handle the load and remain responsive. That's the biggest concern I have for a CMS system -- I haven't seen an Open Source option that has the same capabilities as commercial packages in areas like load balancing, failure across servers, etc. Drupal has some work being financed by Google's Summer of Code in this specific area, and it has some reasonably large deployments already, which is one of the things that appeals to me about it.


Conceptually, you should consider "content management" and "content delivery" as separate functions. Some CMSes want to handle both parts, and scalability & availability are big concerns for such CMSes. But many (I believe Bricolage is in this camp) focus on content management and (typically) push files to the delivery tier, so traffic to the site does not put any demand on the CMS. You can then use whatever you want for the delivery tier -- Apache web server would probably work very well for you, especially with its fairly strong localization features.

For availability & scalability, just build an infrastructure with multiple servers behind a decent load balancer setup -- though if the site design remains fairly "static" (vs. discusssion/blog/portal dynamic design), you might do perfectly well with one Apache server, or, to be more cautious, a cluster/HA pair. I don't know what "hefty amount of traffic" means, though. How many million hits a day are we talking about? Do you know what your average peak bandwidth usage is for the web site you're looking at replacing (this sounds like mostly a question of the "www" site, not the forums or wiki) in Megabits/second? The percentage breakdown of static content vs. expensive CGI hits vs. less expensive dynamic hits? For a fairly static site, you should be able to handle several Mbit/sec worth of traffic on one server with no problems.

Since you're looking at open source offerings, I won't bother warning about the shortcomings of the commercial vendor whose highly regarded and widely deployed CMS offerings I've set up, customized, and run for the past decade. ;-)

-Peter

JimC
2007-04-14, 21:06
Conceptually, you should consider "content management" and "content delivery" as separate functions. Some CMSes want to handle both parts, and scalability & availability are big concerns for such CMSes. But many (I believe Bricolage is in this camp) focus on content management and (typically) push files to the delivery tier, so traffic to the site does not put any demand on the CMS. You can then use whatever you want for the delivery tier -- Apache web server would probably work very well for you, especially with its fairly strong localization features.

Having spent a good sized chunk of the day learning a lot more about CMS, I'm very much in this camp. I'm really far more concerned with simplifying the creation of content and managing deployment of localized pages than changing the delivery of the content.

Based on this, I'm thinking Bricolage is more of a fit than Drupal.

And thanks for the feedback.



Since you're looking at open source offerings, I won't bother warning about the shortcomings of the commercial vendor whose highly regarded and widely deployed CMS offerings I've set up, customized, and run for the past decade. ;-)

Actually, Logitech has an extensive CMS but their whole website is built on ColdFusion, so it's not what we are looking for at all. I'm not opposed to commercial, so if you would like to share, I'd be very happy to learn more. This is most definitely NOT my core area of expertise, so any assistance I can get is much appreciated.

-=> Jim

chuckiebear
2007-04-15, 01:14
Based on this, I'm thinking Bricolage is more of a fit than Drupal.
-=> Jim

From memory, The Register http://theregister.co.uk is a high volume heavily modified Bricolage site. Obviously they have tailored it to news but it certainly handles a heavy load.

jonstahl
2007-04-15, 21:29
I would strongly recommend that you consider Plone. It's one of the most powerful, easy-to-use, scalable and secure open source CMSes out there. And it's named after a band! :-)

http://www.plone.org

Seriously, Plone rocks. It's Python-based, so it's beautiful, powerful and secure. It's got a strong, friendly developer community and really good documentation (for an open source project!). You can make it go really fast with a little caching, and has all the features that a big-time website would need. The UI is incredibly well engineered - Google just hired the guy who designed it!

If you want to separate content management from delivery -- there are several ways to do this, including a Bricolage-like "baking" system called CMFDeployment, and a more elaborate solution called Entransit. Honestly, both may be overkill, though. The most common approach to serving up a few hundred pages per second is to just throw a Squid cache in front of the site.

limi
2007-04-15, 22:07
We're definitely looking at Open Source, rather than commercial. It's not really about the cost -- it's about trying to stay consistent with our philosophy of development and because, frankly, it think intelligently built Open Source software ends up working better in the long run. The accelerated pace of change in web technologies just exacerbates the problem of keeping up in a commercial environment.


That's a very good attitude, and I definitely agree with you here.



My goal is to be able to provide easier access to content updating, as opposed to creating a whole new hierarchy for navigation. Also, we need to be able to better support localization and that's an area that CMS really helps simplify the process of deployment.


Plone has excellent multilingual support on all levels, and had multilingual support from the start, not added as an afterthought, which is all too common in most other CMSes.



We get a pretty hefty amount of traffic, so I also want to make sure whatever we use can handle the load and remain responsive. That's the biggest concern I have for a CMS system -- I haven't seen an Open Source option that has the same capabilities as commercial packages in areas like load balancing, failure across servers, etc.


Plone has tight integration with Squid (invalidation of pages on the Squid end when you edit something on the Plone side of things, etc), and several options exist for clustering and fail-over (it actually comes configured as a cluster out-of-the-box to make use of multiprocessor CPUs that are so common these days).



My biggest criticism on most of the CMSes I have tried is that it is often not straightforward to create an hierarchical menu structure that is easily updateable.

This is how Plone operates by default. Using hierarchical menu structures, that is.

Disclaimer: I'm one of Plone's founders, so I'm obviously biased. Some friends (that adore their slimdevices) sent me this thread, and I'd be happy to answer any in-depth questions you may have.