Open Source CMS Q&A session
Open Source CMSs
What is open source CMS? what are gradations of open-source?
-- Most oscmss are fully open -- you can pretty much do whatever you want -- Drupal, Joomla and Plone -- hundreds of others, but these have risen to the top cmsmatrix.com (or org) -- can compare
Why big three? They'll be around, lots of programmers can work with, not locked to a provider, lots of modules and add-ons being produced for them. If no custom work has been done, any drupal/joomla developer could step in immediately.
Drupal/Joomla run on Linux/apache/php/mysql, Plone uses python, requires zope hosting.
Who can install the platform? Auto-install -- easy to get started. Particularly Joomla? Subject to some dispute.
Custom development is only required if you're doing something new or unique. Existing modules handle most functionality.
Theming is straightforward and similar to many blogging platforms. Sites can use an existing template, adapt an existing template or create a completely custom template.
When choosing tools, go with the one your development company is most comfortable with. Very rarely is one CMS better for a given task than another. Most popular modules would be available for either.
Many modules are unfortunately not that great -- they do the job, but often barely. And sometimes not at all.
Moving from one CMS to another, just as moving from a static site to a CMS, will usually require a lot of copying and pasting. Functionality will also have to be replicated.
Why go beyond an MT or Wordpress? Intended to function as a blog, won't provide as many features. If your site is not so blog-like, it's probably not the best match. Wordpress doesn't have as much room for expansion -- doesn't scale as well. It does have modules that "web-ify" Wordpress, with more sophisticated navigation and static pages, but it's still limited.
Talk to client, find out what they want, how flexible they are, matching their expectations to the technology, creating specifications, creating schedules, wireframing, etc etc. Essentially the same considerations as other web development projects.
Any OSCMS particular considerations? - first decision, are they prepared to go to a CMS? - can their designer go that route? I.e., is he or she ready for theming? - need to take inventory of extra features such as external databases, email lists, etc. - generally wireframe first, design later. Otherwise, clients will tend to focus on the visuals when you're showing the comps.
Templating can be an issue -- moving from Photoshop to a theme can be tricky, since tradeoffs may be involved. Some design firms specialize in theme development. Designers who aren't experienced with CSS design will have problems.
Minor differences -- Joomla is limited to three levels of navigation, also will not handle multiple sites from a single CMS administrative module. Joomla seems to be better with elaborate page layouts. Many of these limitations are disappearing are disappearing with new releases.