Preconference Day 2 – Open Source CMS Playroom

October 26, 2009 at 10:27 pm Leave a comment

Amanda Hollister and Karen Coombs teamed up to deliver an afternoon packed full of good information on choosing an open source Content Management System for our libraries.  Starting with defining a CMS – a system for creating, organizing and publishing web content – they then went on to give us the purpose for using such a system.  A CMS can  give other librarians the ability to update their own subject content on a web page rather than depending on the web developer to perform these tasks.  The web developer then focuses on site management rather than content management.

Three different open source solutions were discussed during the afternoon – WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal.  Each had their own strengths and issues.  This is a very brief summary of what I learned:
WordPress: (Based on PHP and MySQL) – 
Strengths:
Easy to use
Lots of plugins available
Easy to create new themes or modify existing themes
Large user base. – VERY active community with a wide range of users.
Won’t handle program registrations, but will handle forms – plugin for emailed forms.
Content to handle javascript if on your own server. 
WordPress Issues
Can’t easily create custom content types
Lacks flexibility to deal with complex types of objects with different types of fields out of the box.
Customizing display of group of page/posts requires knowledge of PHP.

Joomla – (Needs PHP 5.2, MySQL & Apache)
Strengths
Exceptional flexibility
After a few hurdles, Joomla is easy to use.
Good community support
 At least 3 front-end and 3 back-end levels of access
Joomla Issues
 High learning curve
Many extensions are not updated to 1.5X
 Many templates are not updated to 1.5X

Drupal as CMS – powerful in its ability to do so much stuff. (PHP and MySQL backend)
Strongly recommended using PHP5
Drupal Strengths:
Exceptional flexibility
Easy to create new content types
Substantial user base particularly in libraries
Drupal Issues
Some modules are buggy and problematic
 High learning curve
Not as many modules and filters developed as one would like.
Library-related modules in particular missing in some areas.

BOTTOM LINE:
WordPress best for small sites.
Joomla is best for medium sites, average complexity, relatively easy user interface.
Drupal can handle multiple, large, complex sites

Lessons Learned:
Learning a CMS takes time.
Important to map out your site’s content to know what modules, widgets need to be installed.
Need to decide how you want your site to look in order to choose an appropriate theme
Understand each CMS’s strengths and limitations.

I’m still not sure which CMS I’ll recommend for our Library’s web content, but this workshop certainly gave me lots of food for thought and a clearer vision of the issues involved in the process of selecting a system.

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Well Rounded Librarian by Kathy Petlewski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


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