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Choosing an Open Source CMS

Book Description

Find the best CMS and start working with it to create web sites, blogs, communities, e-commerce sites, and intranets

About This Book

  • Understand different types of CMSs and select the one that best fits your needs

  • Install and customize a CMS with themes and plug-ins

  • Learn key concepts of Content Management Systems and how to systematically assess your requirements

  • Introduction to the major CMSs including Joomla!, Drupal, WordPress, Plone, Magento, Alfresco, and more

  • A hands-on, easy-to-read guide that gives you practical tips on hosting, project management, working with specialists and communities, and finding experts

  • Who This Book Is For

    This book is written for anyone who wants to start a web site and is looking for a good CMS. It is best suited for people who are selecting a CMS for their sites and people who will manage a CMS. Knowledge of web basics is certainly helpful, but not needed.

    What You Will Learn

  • Analyze your web site's CMS requirements, and identify the CMS options that best suit your needs

  • Explore the differences between the major CMSs, and understand which CMS option best fits your site

  • Assess your technical skill level and choose a CMS that combines ease of use with flexibility and power

  • Extensive discussion and quick start guides for several major CMSs: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, and more

  • Discover "speciality CMSs" for specific requirements: intranets, document sharing, community, e-commerce, blogging, and more.

  • Know how to choose the right developers and designers to customize the CMS to your requirements

  • Know what to do when your CMS plays up: troubleshoot, get help from the community, and make full use of the documentation

  • Make sure your web site gets the best hosting: find an ISP that can provide your CMS with the web hosting it needs, or learn about hosting the site on your own server

  • Investigate the plug-ins available for each CMS – plug-ins extend the power of a CMS, meaning that you can build features into your site that the CMS on its own might not provide

  • Section 1: Opening up to open source CMSs

    Chapter 1: Do I even want an open source CMS? – When and how a content management system is useful. Why open source? Readymade or custom built?

    Chapter 2: Exploring your options – Different CMS types, their purposes and different CMS technologies

    Section 2: Thinking your choices through

    Chapter 3: Understanding your site requirements – brainstorm and clarify your requirements, standard compliance, scale of the site, and key features

    Chapter 4: Building the site – trying out CMSs, technical requirements, downloading and installation, configuration, creating navigation

    Chapter 5: Content editing & maintaining the site – using WYSIWYG editors, adding pictures, publishing content, creating links

    Chapter 6: Available plug-ins and templates – adding a photo gallery, customizing design via templates

    Chapter 7: Extending and customizing – understand CMS's code quality, make code level changes to understand complexity

    Section 3: CMSs by breed

    Chapter 8: Blog CMSs – perform typical tasks with the top 3 blog choices, evaluate features

    Chapter 9: Web CMSs – using top web CMSs, customizing them, and gaining key CMS skills

    Chapter 10: E-Commerce CMSs – managing product/service-based e-commerce sites with CMSs; which would be best for you?

    Chapter 11: Intranet/internal CMSs – internal sites for collaboration and communication, workflow, access privileges, and version tracking; Alfresco

    Chapter 12: Specialized CMSs – CMSs that serve niches – e-learning, wiki, photo galleries, discussion forums and so on

    Section 4: Open source CMS tips

    Chapter 13: Hosting your CMS-powered site – selecting and working with a web host

    Chapter 14: Working with CMS communities – asking questions, learning from documentation, and getting help

    Chapter 15: Working with a specialist – finding experts, evaluating them, tips for project management, and outsourced teams

    Chapter 16: Packt open source CMS award winners – Best CMSs voted by community and experts

    In Detail

    There are many powerful open source CMSs available to take the pain away from managing a web site. These systems are feature rich, often easy to use, and free. Unfortunately, there are so many choices it's tough to be sure you're choosing the right one. How can you be sure that you are selecting and working with the right tool?

    This book will guide you through choosing the right CMS for your needs. You can be confident in your choice of CMS for the needs of your project. It will also help you make a start using the CMS, and give you a feel for what it's like to use it – even before you install it yourself.

    Are you bewildered by the many open source CMSs available online? Open source CMSs are the best way to create and manage sophisticated web sites. You can create a site that precisely meets your business goals, and keep the site up to date easily because these systems give you full control over every aspect of your site. Because open source CMSs are free to download, you have a huge amount of choice between the various systems.

    Yet there are many open source CMSs to choose from, each with unique strengths – and occasionally limitations too. Choosing between the bewildering number of options can be tough.

    Making the wrong choice early on may lead to a lot of wasted work, because you'll have a half-finished site that doesn't meet your initial requirements – and needs to be restarted from scratch.

    This book will show you how to avoid choosing the wrong CMS. It will guide you through assessing your site requirements, and then using that assessment to identify the CMS that will best fit your needs. It contains discussions of the major CMSs, and the issues that you should consider when choosing: their complexity to use, their features and the power they offer. It discusses technical considerations such as programming languages and compliance with best practice standards in a clear, friendly way that non-technical readers can understand.

    The book also contains quick-start guides and examples for the most popular CMSs such as WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal, so that you can experiment with these CMSs, get a feel for how they work, and start using them to build your site.

    After reading this book, you can be confident that your CMS choice will support your web site's needs because you have carefully assessed your requirements and explored the available options.

    Style and approach

    This is a practical guide that takes a task-centered approach. Each task is stepped through with detailed instructions. You will come across many step-by-step examples with plenty of screenshots and resources. This book provides all the support and guidance you need as you begin to work with CMSs. It even has additional tasks that you can carry out to build your skills further. Everything is oriented towards managing content with a CMS.

    Downloading the example code for this book. You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit and register to have the code file.

    Table of Contents

    1. Choosing an Open Source CMS Beginner's Guide
      1. Table of Contents
      2. Choosing an Open Source CMS
      3. Credits
      4. About the author
      5. About the reviewers
      6. Preface
        1. What this book covers
                1. Section I: Opening up to Open Source CMSs
                2. Section II: Thinking your choices through
                3. Section III: CMSs by breed
                4. Section IV: Open source CMS tips
        2. What you need for this book
        3. Who this book is for
        4. Conventions
        5. Reader feedback
        6. Customer support
          1. Downloading the example code for the book
          2. Errata
          3. Piracy
          4. Questions
      7. I. Section I - Opening up to Open Source CMSs
        1. 1. Do I Even Want an Open Source CMS?
          1. You need a CMS!
            1. CMS alternatives
          2. Which CMS?
          3. What about you?
          4. About this book
            1. Approach
          5. Let's get started!
        2. 2. Evaluating Your Options
          1. Genres of Content Management Systems
            1. Portals or general-purpose CMSs
              1. Core features
              2. Possible uses
              3. Example sites
              4. Top general-purpose CMSs
            2. Blog CMSs
              1. Core features
              2. Possible uses
              3. Example sites
              4. Top blog CMSs
            3. e-Commerce CMSs
              1. Core features
              2. Possible uses
              3. Example sites
              4. Top e-Commerce CMSs
            4. Wiki CMSs
              1. Core features
              2. Possible uses
              3. Example sites
              4. Top Wiki CMSs
            5. Forum CMSs
              1. Core features
              2. Possible uses
              3. Example sites
              4. Top forum CMSs
            6. eLearning CMSs
              1. Core Features
              2. Possible uses
              3. Example sites
              4. Top eLearning CMSs
            7. Collaboration CMSs
              1. Core features
              2. Possible uses
              3. Top intranet CMSs
            8. Photo gallery CMSs
              1. Core features
              2. Possible uses
              3. Example sites
              4. Top photo gallery CMSs
          2. Different types, but strong overlap
          3. Understanding CMS technologies
            1. PHP is most popular for CMSs
            2. But why does the technology choice matter?
          4. Summary
      8. II. Section II - Thinking your choices through
        1. 3. Understanding your Requirements
          1. Setting our expectations right
          2. Time for action-setting your expectations for "The Yoga Site"
            1. What just happened?
            2. Creating intended outcomes
            3. Pop quiz
            4. Have a go hero-different goals for different sites
          3. Measuring your site
          4. Time for action-measuring the scale of your site
            1. What just happened?
            2. Are you expecting a lot of visitors?
            3. Pop quiz
            4. Have a go hero-take some measurements!
          5. Working with others
          6. Time for action-determining compliance and interoperability needs
            1. What just happened
            2. Have a go hero-learn the terms
          7. Determining additional feature requirements
          8. Time for action-choosing additional features
            1. What just happened
          9. Summary
        2. 4. Building the Site
          1. Get hands-on experience with a CMS
          2. Time for action-taking a test drive
            1. What just happened?
            2. Checking out a live demo
            3. Pop quiz
            4. Have a go hero-test drive some more CMSs
          3. Create navigation structure
          4. Time for action-creating navigation structure
            1. What just happened?
            2. Do you need a different navigation structure?
            3. Pop quiz
          5. Understanding technical requirements
          6. Time for action-understanding technical requirements
            1. What just happened
          7. Installing a CMS
            1. Before the installation
              1. Creating a database
              2. Uploading files using FTP
              3. Using phpMyAdmin
              4. Managing file permissions
          8. Time for action-install WordPress
            1. What just happened
            2. Have a go hero-set up your navigation structure with WordPress
            3. Have a go hero-set up Joomla!
          9. Summary
        3. 5. Content Editing and Management
          1. Adding content to our site
          2. Time for action-adding a page
            1. What just happened?
            2. What is WYSIWYG? Why is it important?
            3. Adding images
            4. Time for action-adding images
              1. What just happened?
              2. Have a go hero-image formatting options
              3. Have a go hero-adding a video
            5. Maintaining content
            6. Time for action-adding metadata
              1. What just happened?
                1. Tagging is keywords on steroids!
              2. Have a go hero-adding links
              3. Allowing people to contribute
              4. Have a go hero-determine multiuser needs
          3. Summary
        4. 6. Templates and Plug-ins
          1. Giving a professional look to our site
            1. Using templates
          2. Time for action-finding a good template
            1. What just happened?
              1. Template selection criteria
              2. Where to find templates
            2. Have a go hero-shortlisting some more templates
          3. Time for action-setting up a template
            1. What just happened?
              1. Different CMSs have different templates
              2. Free, paid, or custom
            2. Have a go hero-setting up a template in your favorite CMS
          4. Enhancing functionality with plug-ins
            1. Plug-ins, or modules, or extensions
            2. The plug-ins that you need
          5. Time for action-finding a photo gallery plug-in
            1. What just happened?
          6. Time for action-showing a photo gallery on our site
            1. What just happened?
            2. No coding required
            3. Uninstalling a plug-in
            4. Have a go hero-set up an e-commerce extension
          7. Summary
        5. 7. Extending and Customizing
          1. Customize a template
            1. Fixing the site logo
          2. Time for action-replacing the default logo in our template
            1. What just happened?
            2. Changing the site color
            3. Changing the menu style
          3. Time for action-advancing customization via CSS changes
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero-fixing submenus
            3. Customizations may need code changes
              1. What is a programming language? Is it easy?
          4. Understanding the code architecture
            1. Understanding the level of support
              1. And there are books!
          5. Finding professional help
          6. Summary
      9. III. Section III - CMSs by breed
        1. 8. Blog CMSs
          1. The first question-do I need a self-hosted or service-based CMS?
            1. Top blogging CMSs
            2. Let us cover the top choices
          2. Taking WordPress for a test drive
          3. Time for action-managing content with WordPress
            1. What just happened?
          4. Extending WordPress
          5. Time for action-customizing the design
            1. What just happened?
            2. Customizing the theme
            3. WordPress widgets
            4. Add unlimited power with plug-ins
            5. Comments or spam
            6. Additional resources
          6. Evaluating Movable Type
          7. Time for action-managing content with Movable Type
            1. What just happened?
            2. Customizing Movable Type
            3. Additional resources
          8. Expressing opinions with ExpressionEngine
          9. Time for action-managing content with ExpressionEngine
            1. What just happened?
            2. Customizing ExpressionEngine
            3. Additional resources
          10. Searching for more alternatives
          11. Additional help is also available
          12. Summary
        2. 9. Web CMSs
          1. Do you want a CMS or a portal?
            1. Evaluating CMS Made Simple
          2. Time for action-managing content with CMS Made Simple
            1. What just happened?
          3. Time for action-exploring customization options
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero-is it right for you?
          4. Diving into Drupal
          5. Time for action-putting Drupal to the test
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero-figure out your way with Drupal
            3. Drupal code quality
          6. Is Joomla! the best choice?
            1. Joomla! gives you more
            2. Have a go hero-set up a full site with Joomla!
          7. SilverStripe—easy and extensive
            1. Notable features
            2. Is it for you?
          8. ezPublish—enterprise CMS
            1. Notable features
            2. Is it for you?
          9. Umbraco—rising high
            1. Notable features
            2. Is it for you?
          10. DotNetNuke—the first you may notice
            1. Notable features
            2. Is it for you?
          11. Plone—for Python lovers
            1. Notable features
            2. Is it for you?
          12. dotCMS—enterprise and Java
            1. Notable features
            2. Is it for you?
          13. Where to find more?
          14. Summary
        3. 10. CMS for e-commerce
          1. Content or commerce?
            1. So what are your options?
          2. Magento—open source e-commerce evolved
          3. Time for action-adding products with Magento
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero
            3. Notable Magento features
              1. Single page checkout
              2. Product attributes
              3. Full control over design
              4. Magento as a CMS
            4. Other features
            5. Is it for you?
          4. VirtueMart—bringing e-commerce to Joomla!
          5. Time for action-adding products and selling them
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero
            3. Is it for you?
            4. What about Drupal and WordPress?
          6. Freeway—e-commerce for products, events, services, and subscriptions
          7. Time for action-selling weekly yoga class registrations
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero
            3. Other notable features
          8. Other notable e-commerce CMSs
            1. osCommerce and variants
            2. PrestaShop—a breath of fresh air
            3. DashCommerce—for .Net
            4. Looking for even more?
          9. Summary
        4. 11. Team Collaboration CMSs
          1. Why a collaboration CMS?
            1. Can we use any CMS on the intranet?
          2. Alfresco—an enterprise CMS
          3. Time for action-planning the Yoga Site with Alfresco
            1. What just happened?
            2. Alfresco Explorer
            3. Have a go hero-add a space and some users
          4. Time for action-creating workflows and revisions with Alfresco
            1. What just happened?
            2. Document detail page
            3. Have a go hero-workflows with multiple users
            4. Alfresco can do much more
          5. Finding alternatives to Alfresco
            1. Mix and match
          6. Summary
        5. 12. Specialized CMSs
          1. Wiki CMSs: The power of collective contribution
          2. Time for action-creating events listing for the Yoga Site
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero-explore the power of Wikis
            3. What makes Wikis special?
            4. Other Wiki software
            5. Additional resources
          3. Discussion forums: helping each other
          4. Time for action-discussions on yoga products
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero-trying out more with phpBB
            3. What makes forums special?
            4. Other forum software
            5. Additional resources
          5. Photo galleries: Sharing memories
          6. Time for action-posting team photos online
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero-digging into Gallery
            3. What makes galleries special?
            4. Other photo gallery software
            5. Additional resources
          7. Online learning: facilitating learning
          8. Time for action-creating a yoga course
            1. What just happened?
            2. Have a go hero-take a test
            3. What makes e-learning special?
            4. Other e-learning software
            5. Additional resources
          9. Other specialized CMSs
          10. Summary
      10. IV. Section IV - Open source CMS tips
        1. 13. Hosting your CMS-Powered Site
          1. Do I need hosting?
            1. Keep this in mind—hosting evaluation parameters
            2. Hosting on your own machine
            3. Finding a good host
            4. Common tasks and problems in hosting
              1. Making sense of the welcome email
            5. Time for action-create a database with cPanel
              1. Using FTP to upload files
              2. Changing permissions for files or folders
              3. Editing files with an online file manager
            6. Time for action-editing a file using cPanel File Manager
              1. Apache configuration with .htaccess
              2. You may find this useful—some hints and tips
          2. Summary
        2. 14. Getting Involved in the Community
          1. Where to go for support
            1. Have a go hero-checkout the support systems of your favorite CMS
          2. Searching for an answer
          3. Keep this in mind—asking good questions
            1. Recommended message structure
            2. Have a go hero-recommended reading
          4. How can you contribute?
          5. Summary
        3. 15. Working with a Specialist
          1. Basics of Software Project Management
            1. Software development Stages
            2. Recommended readings
          2. Finding the right expert
            1. Finding experts online
            2. Look for CMS experts
          3. Outsourcing requires different thinking
            1. Further reading
          4. Tracking progress and controlling
            1. Online project management tools
          5. Handling risks and conflicts
            1. Risk management
            2. Conflict resolution
          6. Succeed with your project—recommendations
          7. Summary
        4. 16. Packt Open Source CMS Awards
          1. Why an award?
          2. Award methodology
          3. 2008 award winners
            1. Drupal
              1. Background
            2. Joomla!
              1. Background
            3. DotNetNuke
              1. Background
            4. SilverStripe
              1. Background
              2. What makes it most promising?
            5. CMS Made Simple
              1. Background
            6. Plone
              1. Background
            7. dotCMS
              1. Background
            8. ImpressCMS
              1. Background
            9. MiaCMS
              1. Background
          4. Other finalists
          5. Most valued professionals
          6. Summary
      11. Index