CMS

What is a content management system (CMS)?

A content management system is software that keeps track of every piece of content on your website, much like your local public library keeps track of books and stores them. Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of. A CMS facilites changes to both the look and functionality of a website.

The three most popular Content Management Systems are:

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Why use WordPress

Ease of Use

WordPress is the Toyota of the CMS's. And, it sometimes seems that everyone has one. Yes, it is by far the most popular CMS.

The popularity of WordPress is due to its ease of use. It started life as a Blogging Platform and its roots remain evident today. The "ease of use" combined with the fact that many WordPress sites are created by novices with no formal training tends to give WordPress sites a characteristic "look" that can quickly become familiar -- just like a Toyota. However, modern themes and a higher percentage of skilled developers are moving WordPress away from the "Oh, just another WordPress site" reaction. But, the novice still tends to create WordPress sites that look a lot like an open book.

The "ease of use" makes WordPress well suited for individuals, professionals, and small businesses that put "ease of use" at the top of their priority list. And, if your primary interest is in blogging, then WordPress is the right choice.

Since WordPress is very easy to install and put into operation, it is ideally suited to amateurs, novices, artists, and the do-it-yourself types. Little to no technical knowledge is required. A functional WordPress site can be created in five minutes. But, it will be only a skeleton ready for functionality to be added and content to be entered. Functionality is added to WordPress sites with plugins.

Transforming a skeleton WordPress site into a practical and useful website requires adding a good number of plugins. The plugins add functionality, including SEO, as well as security. So, think of WordPress as a skeleton upon which a practical website can be built. It is not a one-stop shop for a CMS. You have to build upon it, while being selective about what you add. As with any CMS, it will then have to be populated with content. Content means textual content, photographs, and graphics. Spreadsheets, documents, video, and other files can also be added.


Themes

Given that the "look" of a WordPress site is closely tied to the "Theme", it is no surprise that there are thousands of themes available. Many are free and open sourced. However, as expected, the better Themes are the commercial themes that carry a fee. The commercial themes generally provide better quality and better support. A popular source of commercial WordPress themes is Elegant Themes.

A new development (late 2015) in WordPress themes is the Theme Builder or Page Builder. These tools allow you to create a WordPress theme using drag-and-drop. The Page Builder offered by Elegant Themes is called Divi. The company offers both a Divi Theme and a Divi Plugin. The Divi Plugin facilitates migration to another theme.

One competitive alternative to the Divi Theme is the Visual Composer. These drag-and-drop Page Designers continue the march towards making WordPress the right choice for those that want a website without having to hire an expert. But, like those that decide to be their own plumber, electrician, or mechanic, the end results are seldom, if ever, as good as the results produced by someone that is experienced.

In any case, take care in selecting a WordPress theme -- because moving from one theme to another is often not a simple task.


Plugins

The first plug-in you should select for your new WordPress site is a plug-in that will provide convenient backup capability.  Many of the backup plug-ins provide automated backup capabilities that can function on a schedule without human intervention. Various plugins can store the backup files on a local computer, on a server, in the Cloud, or all three. As expected, the commercial backup plugins are generally of a higher quality with more functionality than those that are available as open-sourced (see people would say Free -- but that is not exactly a true statement).

WordPress provides an easy 5-minute install and one-click installation of updates and plugins.

Many large companies will use WordPress for a blogging platform while having their primary website on Drupal, Joomla, or some other platform. Facebook is one such company. In some cases, the blogging platform is on a Intranet and for employees use only.


How to recognize a WordPress site:

WordPress sites are fairly easy to recognize. If you see a website that is essentially a stack of blocks (like a stack of bricks) with the blocks having different colors, it may very well be a WordPress site. Some of the blocks may be 1 column wide (full width) while others may be  split into 2, 3 or 4 columns. Often times, there will be sharp contrasts in colors between the blocks.

If you examine the source code for a WordPress site, you can normally find the text strings “wp-“ used. It is used  in directory names like “wp-content” and “wp-theme”. Do a text search also for the word "generator". It will be found in the top portion of the source code between the <header> and </header> HTML Tags.

A technique that will work on most WordPress sites is to attempt to login as a user. At the Home Page of a website with a URL like "http://thatwebsite.com" instead of like "http://thatwebsite.com/blog", append "/wp-admin/ to the end to produce "http://thatwebsite.com/wp-admin/" and then press the Enter Key. If you get a login screen, you are looking at a WordPress site.

Here are some typical WordPress sites that will allow you to see the block “effect”.


Some large companies that use WordPress are:

For more information on WordPress, see wordpress.org.[/item]

 

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Why use Joomla

Joomla is a mature and well established CMS for building robust websites for businesses. It is ideally suited to businesses that require large databases and better performance than what is available with WordPress.

Whereas the performance of WordPress sites tends to degrade rapidly as the websites grow, Joomla has the ability to handle larger databases and websites with less degradation. That makes Joomla a great option for projects that have outgrown the WordPress CMS platform. In addition, Joomla has more structure than WordPress, making it very robust and extremely reliable.

Joomla arrived on the scene in 2005 and covers the middle ground between WordPress and Drupal. While WordPress is the Toyota of CMS's, Joomla would be more like an Acura; a little more refined and capable. It is well suited for small to large business. Unlike WordPress, Joomla was developed from the ground-up to be a platform for creating websites.

With the additional flexibility and capabilities of Joomla comes more complexity and Joomla requires some degree of technical knowledge and capability. It offers some of the ease of use of WordPress while delivering some of the power and flexibility of Drupal. Yet, it is not for the novice person nor the person that does not want to spend a few weeks learning how to properly develop a website with Joomla. When developing a website with Joomla things have to be done as Joomla expects them to be done -- and the methods are often not intuitive.

With that said, Joomla provides a front-end for publishers and contributors that is intuitive and easy to use. It is as easy for a user to add articles and edit articles with Joomla as it is with WordPress. However, the articles take on a website flavor and not a blog flavor. The Access Control List (ACL) that controls what privileges a user has is stronger in Joomla than in WordPress.


Themes

While WordPress sites tend to have a familiar look and feel, Joomla websites tend to have the look and feel of traditional hand-coded HTML and CSS sites. Whereas the "look" of a WordPress site depends upon the Theme, Joomla makes use of Templates. Unlike WordPress Themes, Joomla Templates have per-defined positions that allow for a great deal more flexibility in layout than does WordPress Themes. Joomla provides the ability to override templates in a manner similar to child themes in WordPress. There is also much more flexibility in the placement of Joomla Modules than WordPress Widgets.


Extensions

Extensions are the Joomla equivalent to WordPress plugins. While all add-ons in WordPress are plugins, Joomla has three categories of extensions; Components, Modules, and PlugIns. Plugins are quick and easy to develop. Components are the most difficult to develop and Modules fall in the middle.

The Joomla core and extensions are developed using OOP (Object Oriented Programming) and MVC (Model, View, Controller) technologies. These technologies require a more structured and disciplined approach to programming and web development than the procedural and functional based programming used in WordPress.

Major improvements have been made in the recent releases of Joomla with many more in the pipeline (known as the Joomla road map).

Joomla has language support built-in and is much better than WordPress if you need a website that supports multiple languages.

Like WordPress, Joomla provides an easy 5-Minute install and one-click installation of updates and extensions.

WordPress can be installed alongside Joomla on a website and you then have the best of both worlds; WordPress for blogging and Joomla for all else.


How to recognize a Joomla site:

Search the source code of a webpage for the text string "/templates/". This is the Joomla directory where templates and their associated files are stored.

Search also for the word "generator'. You will often find a line like:
<meta name="generator" content="Joomla! - Open Source Content Management" />

Note that this line is a Meta Tag that is found in the top, or header, portion of the webpage between the "<header>" and "</header>" tags.

 A technique that will work on most Joomla sites is to attempt to login as a user. At the Home Page of a website with a URL like "http://thatwebsite.com" append "/administrator/" so that you have "http://thatwebsite.com/administrator/" and then press the Enter Key. If you get a login screen, you are looking at a Joomla site.


Joomla is used all over the world to power Web sites of all shapes and sizes. Joomla is an excellent choice for:

Small business Web sites
Community-based portals
Complex business directories
Custom product catalogs
Event Calendars
Membership Rosters and Portals
Corporate Web sites and portals
Corporate intranets and extra-nets
Online magazines, newspapers, and publications
E-commerce
Online reservations
Government applications
Non-profit and organizational Web sites
Reservation systems
Rental Systems
Property Management
School and church Web sites
Inventory control systems
Multiple Languages
Multiple Access Levels and Control

Many large companies will use WordPress for a blogging platform while having their primary website on Drupal, Joomla, or some other platform. Facebook is one such company. In some cases, the blogging platform is on a Intranet and for employees use only.


Here are some companies and organizations that use Joomla:

For more informatin on Joomla, see joomla.org.

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Why use Drupal

Whereas WordPress might be consider the Toyota of CMS's, and Joomla much more like an Acura, Drupal might be considered the Cadalac CTS-V or high-end BMW's of the CMS's. It is powerful and can do most anything expected of a CMS. It appeals to those that want or need the most in functionality, features, flexibility, and expandability.

The latest version of Drupal, Ver. 8, was released November 19, 2015 and was a complete re-write of Drupal with the intent of making it easier to learn and easier to use. Yet, of the three most popular CMS's, Drupal requires the highest level of technical knowledge. The engineering types will be comfortable with Drupal.

Drupal is ideally suited for large businesses with challenging requirements and for businesses that have an in-house technical person or else a healthy budget to pay a third-party consultant to maintain the site on an ongoing basis. The U.S. Government makes rather extensive use of Drupal, with one of the Drupal websites being the White House.

The developers that work with Drupal tend to love their work. It is both challenging and rewarding. It is often financially rewarding, as well.

There is a Drupal Meet-Up Group in Asheville. The Asheville Drupal Camp that is held each year is well attended and draws many knowledgeable and experienced speakers. The location is generally the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. The lead organizer for 2016 is April Sides. Assistant organizers are; Andy Giles, Jonathan, Justin Rhodes, Leul Shewangizaw, Matt Davis, Mike Hoffman, and Stuart Broz.

Some large companies and organizations that use Drupal are:

1) The White House

2) New York Government

3) Federal Communications Commission

4) Weather.com

5) Mollom.com

6) Le Louvre

7) Zynga.com

8) Linux

For more information on Drupal, see Dries Buytaert's blog and drupal.org.

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