Content Management Systems

What is a

Content Management System? Here’s a little background. Lots of websites have dynamic content. Meaning, the content is located in a database, usually MySQL, and they are simply dumped into a web template when the page is viewed. That way, if you decide to change the structure or template of your website, the content need not be changed. You wouldn’t really have to mess with anything. Since you have one main template, a change in the template is propagated throughout all the pages because all the pages are created dynamically and use the same template.

A content management system or CMS allows a user to manage this content. Excellent description, I know. Basically the user simply edits the content of the web site and not the actual pages. They don’t need to know any HTML, they don’t need to deal with the structure of the website they simply edit content. has a nice write up on CMS.

Advantages of a Content Management System:

  • Decentralized maintenance.
  • Designed with non-technical content editors in mind.
  • Configurable access restrictions.
  • Consistency of design is preserved.
  • Navigation is automatically generated.
  • Content is stored in a database.
  • Dynamic content.
  • Daily updates.
  • Cooperation.
  • Content scheduling.

As a web developer you have a decision to make. Do you go with an already existing CMS like Joomla or Drupal or do you design your own? Well, that depends on couple of things. How much content needs to be edited, what the user wants to do, what kind of system you have already established, etc.

Personally, I like Joomla. The problem with Joomla is that it lets you a LOT. Sometimes you don’t want the user to have all this functionality, it’s sometimes a bit of overkill. If the page is more or less static and the user may need to make simple changes from time to time, writing your own CMS makes sense. If the user wants a blog, I say go with WordPress. I’m a huge advocate of not reinventing the wheel. They guys at WordPress have been doing this for years now; they should know what they’re doing.

Basically folks, you need to analyze the task at hand and make an informed decision. OpenSourceCMS has a huge list of CMS programs that you can even test out on the website. When writing your own, you have to consider how long it’s going to take, whether you can do it effectively and efficiently. Prepackaged tools usually have all the fixings: file uploads, image stuff, etc. Simply decide what you need and what makes sense.