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Assessing the Open-source CMS

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Many webmasters have a need to effectively manage content as it enables the creation of large, easy to maintain websites.  The problem is that not everyone can afford the high-end proprietary solutions such as IBM WebSphere and the Microsoft Content Server.  Fortunately, there are also several open-source systems on the market that offer a cost-effective means for achieving the same goal.  This article will shed some light on what you need to look for in an open-source CMS.

For the most part, every content management system is designed to produce the same results.  What mainly sets them apart is ease of use and features.  One product might lack some of the basic features but make up for them with add-on support.  A system that doesn’t have a WYSIWYG editor, for example, may offer support for an add-on module such as TinyMCE.   A product that has a complex interface could be enhanced by modifying the menu system or customizing layout templates.  When it comes to the open-source CMS, it isn’t so much about native features as it is flexibility.  You can access the overall flexibility of a system by viewing it from these angles:

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Default Capabilities: The default capabilities of a CMS basically entail what is included with the installation, and determine if you can perform essential tasks without any problems.  When assessing the flexibility of any system, it is important to look for one that offers an acceptable level of basic functionality and provides the structure for creating a dynamic website.

Add-on Support: Most systems support add-on modules so it is up to you to find out what capabilities they possess.  Aside from features, consider how easy they will be to incorporate into the existing system as well.

Templates: Templates are a major part of any CMS as they allow you to modify the look and feel of your content.  If you are proficient with coding, you may want to find a product that lets you write your own templates.  In this case, you would need a system that supports the languages you are familiar with.

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SEO: Many content management systems offer search engine appeal right out of the box.  However, not every product does.  Visibility is crucial for a large site so it is best to find a product that enables the easy creation of web pages and appeases the search engines.

Product Recommendations

The open-source CMS market is huge and there are a variety of products available.  Two of the most widely used systems on the market are Drupal and Mambo.  Drupal is a robust system with quality design and clean code.  It comes loaded with exceptional default capabilities as well as templates and layouts that are easily to manipulate.  Drupal is one of the most comprehensive systems available and the preferred choice for many businesses.

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Mambo is easy to install and enables the simple management of content-rich sites.  The system includes a number of default features that provide support for multiple authors with little training required.  Both systems are SEO-friendly and support various add-ons for enhanced functionality.  Keep in mind that each product requires that you have a basic understanding of HTML and PHP.


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