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Agile Computing Authors: Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Pat Romanski, Tim Fujita-Yuhas, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Open Source Cloud, CMS

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Open Source Content Management Systems

Pt 1 in a series that lists the advantages and disadvantages of the 18 most popular open source Content Management Systems

A content management system (CMS) is a system facilitating efficient production of desired output by using managed content. The content may be text, images, graphics, documents, sound, video or other that can be managed in an electronic format. It is a software application used in uploading, editing and managing content on a website. CMS has been gaining popularity as it handles various tasks including when to display content, how many times to display content to specific users and how the content interacts with other elements of the website. Open source CMS systems are popular for their quality, lower cost, reliability and flexibility.

This article is the first in a series that lists the advantages and disadvantages of the 18 most popular open source Content Management Systems. The first five are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, and b2evolution.

1. WordPress

WordPress is a publishing platform focused on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. Working with WordPress does not require any knowledge of HTML. Ease of installation and upgrading make it a great fit for beginner webmasters and even for non-developers.

Using WordPress has these advantages to users:

  • The CMS tool has blogging options such as Posts, comments, media, links, simple pages, users etc.
  • Customization of the look of a website or addition of an extra feature is possible
  • Multilingual support: Although it lacks out of the box support for bilingual or multilingual blogs, plugins developed by the WordPress community permit creation of a multilingual blog
  • Many plugins are released by independent developers that enhance the user interface
  • Creation of new content is very easy with the visual text editor
  • Security from hackers is comparatively high for many community developers

Disadvantages are:

  • Limitations for bigger and more complicated sites
  • Better suited for blogs than general websites
  • Changing navigational structure requires knowledge of WP scripting language and CSS
  • Below average SEO friendly: SEO provided by WordPress is below average but can be improved with installation of a useful plugin
  • Attracts spambot

2. Joomla

Joomla is a much appreciated portal- or community type site CMS tool for simple websites and blogs. It comes with an easy to use graphical administrative interface and powerful WYSIWYG Editor that enables the creation and editing of pages. With Joomla, there is no need to use specialized tools or programming languages to update the sites. It has a large user base with a lively community where tips and tricks are shared.

Advantages of using Joomla as CMS tool are as follows:

  • Good choice for creating a community or network with a membership area, newsroom, forums, articles, input from external authors
  • Simple installation: takes a few minutes
  • In the most recent version of Joomla, a more complex navigation pattern is available that can support more than two-level hierarchies
  • A lot of functionality is built into Joomla hence it requires fewer plugins than WordPress
  • Easy to create a navigation structure: no need to have knowledge of Joomla scripting while changing the navigation structure and menus of the site
  • No knowledge of HTML is required
  • Multilingual Support: An extra module called Joomfish is required to facilitate multilingual support
  • Allows users to set article expiration dates, activation dates, author names, etc.
  • Has many development tools and tutorials to help users
  • Offers users a large community where advice, tips and tricks can be shared

Disadvantages of using Joomla:

  • Lacks advanced technologies hence not suitable for advanced web designers
  • Less security: Every site has its own login details making the work easier but leaving the site less secured
  • Less friendly to Search engine optimization
  • Certain plug-ins cost money which are available for free in WordPress

3. Drupal

Drupal is a free source PHP based CMS tool that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize content on a website. Requiring complete control over scripting of sophisticated website design, Drupal is not very user friendly, but can be worked on only by professional web developers. Installation of Drupal is easy and straight forward for anyone familiar with installing applications on web servers. For web developers new to Drupal, it is a steep learning curve. It requires knowledge of a sophisticated programming language.

Drupal has gained popularity over other CMS for the following advantages:

  • Flexible yet robust content creation: There is flexibility in creating and managing different content types such as text, blogs, video, polls etc.
  • Using Drupal CMS, one can customize the URL path for each piece of content published on a website
  • Creation of own dynamic designs for pages of your own website
  • Drupal is the ideal platform for developing large websites with hundreds of pages
  • Highly scalable
  • Drupal is proven and secured
  • Multilingual Support: It requires only to activate a core module named Locale to enjoy multilingual support
  • SEO friendly: Drupal CMS software is ideal for search engine optimization
  • It has very strong community support
  • Large support base

Disadvantages of Drupal include following:

  • Not very user friendly and requires greater technical knowledge
  • Needs MySQL and Php language support
  • Customization of Drupal requires an expert user and developer

4. Magento

Magento is an open source ecommerce platform designed for customizing, managing and running an online portal.

Advantages of Magento include:

  • Well defined with core code and third party or community code allowing users to download other extensions or modules without worrying about the impact of future upgrades and or disrupting the current appearance of the website
  • SEO friendliness: Magento achieves high ranking on search engines Google and Bing
  • Large community of users: A community of users, developers and service providers are available to share their advice, tips and tricks
  • PHP written Magento is a feature rich ecommerce platform. It has all the features of a top of the line Ecommerce website such as advanced promotion and marketing tools.
  • Easy integration of additional layouts and Add-ons
  • Provides ability to manage multi stores from single Administration panel
  • Nice default template

Disadvantages are:

  • The CMS software is a complicated platform and follows best web programming practices
  • There are very few expert Magento developers available
  • Heavily layered and overly complicated coding style and large number of files required to learn and do customization

5. b2Evolution

B2Evolution is an open source blogging system distributed under the GNU General Public License, making it free to use and modify. A large number of plug-ins have been developed for the CMS including extensions allowing incorporation of third-party text editors. In addition, it also permits integration of functionality provided by popular websites including MySpace, YouTube, Digg etc. It is featured with friendly URLs, image resizing, photoblogs with thumbnails, UI levels, a WYSIWYG editor, spell check and style wizard. It is a multilingual, multi user, multi blog publishing CMS.

Advantages of b2Evolution:

  • Fast and easy installation of the software: can be installed on virtually any server configuration consisting of PHP and MySQL
  • Spam protection: Featured with blacklisting and CAPTCHA to prevent comments from automated bot programs, your blog will be free from annoying spam comments
  • B2Evolution provides multiple Theme support
  • Navigation is quite straight forward
  • Installation of plugins is quite simple


  • Difficult for non-technical blogger to use b2Evolution
  • Performing customization requires knowledge of the language of the PHP tribe
  • With  respect to availability of extensions and their ease of use, Add-on community is limited
  • User community is comparatively small

More Stories By Hovhannes Avoyan

Hovhannes Avoyan is the CEO of Monitis, Inc., a provider of on-demand systems management and monitoring software to 50,000 users spanning small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to Monitis, he served as General Manager and Director of Development at prominent web portal Lycos Europe, where he grew the Lycos Armenia group from 30 people to over 200, making it the company's largest development center. Prior to Lycos, Avoyan was VP of Technology at Brience, Inc. (based in San Francisco and acquired by Syniverse), which delivered mobile internet content solutions to companies like Cisco, Ingram Micro, Washington Mutual, Wyndham Hotels , T-Mobile , and CNN. Prior to that, he served as the founder and CEO of CEDIT ltd., which was acquired by Brience. A 24 year veteran of the software industry, he also runs Sourcio cjsc, an IT consulting company and startup incubator specializing in web 2.0 products and open-source technologies.

Hovhannes is a senior lecturer at the American Univeristy of Armenia and has been a visiting lecturer at San Francisco State University. He is a graduate of Bertelsmann University.

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