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Looking at Open Source CMS Applications

Discussion in 'Software' started by tripwire45, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    If you don't know that "CMS" stands for Content Management Software, you probably can't help me. Just to let you know, I've posted this question (more or less) at the Ubuntu Forums for reasons that will soon be apparent. I don't know that many of you can help me with this situation, but because I respect the level of experience and advice represented here at CF, I thought I'd post my query here.

    As many of you know, I'm a technical writer and I started a new contract job today. I'm taking over for a writer that had to drop out suddenly and I'm in the position of taking his work at a software company, and completing the documentation on the latest version of one of the company's products.

    The previous writer pretty much did everything in Office 2007, particularly Word and PowerPoint (to the point of using PowerPoint to design his technical diagrams and create graphics, oddly enough).

    The product in question is web-based, so print documentation isn't really relevant. I talked to the developer who manages the help pages for the product, and he told me that my predecessor would create in Word and save his work in xdoc format to send to the developer. This developer would then rework the xdoc content into the required web-based help.

    Frankly, it sounds like a pain in the pin feathers (and the developer agrees) and I'd rather compose using a tool that more directly generates web-friendly content.

    The really interesting thing is that all of the software developers work on Ubuntu and the company will soon be moving their server base from BSD to the Ubuntu server. I use Ubuntu as my desktop at home and given the opportunity to do so at work would be a dream (and this part is why I posted on the Ubuntu forums).

    The thing is, after talking to this developer and listening to his suggestions, I am considering looking for a content management system where I could create and store content that could then be taken by the developers and used in whatever format they need (HTML, XML, PDF, and so on) rather than creating in one tool that requires my content to be completely recreated in a separate format. No content management system currently exists and I could potentially, suggest (and assuming they accept my suggestion) and implement such a system.

    On the Ubuntu boards, it seems like Joomla and Drupal are the front runners as far as preferred CMS applications. I'm also considering Plone for two reasons; a friend of mine deployed plone for his work environment, he loves it, and he's been dying to get me to try it. I've only had one opportunity to get on his plone-based site and haven't gotten to know the thing very well yet. Also, at least some of the packages for Plone were written in Python. While I know almost nothing about Python (as Mathematix can attest) :oops: , it would give me just a little bit of an opportunity to explore that side of the street.

    Again, the primary features I'm looking for in a CMS application (at least at this stage of the game) are those that would lend themselves to me being able to create help content, and various user and technical specification guides, and then have that content be available to be used in a number of formats, specifically those that are web-based. In essense, the CMS would have to lend itself to multiple authors and editors collaborating on shared content *and* being able to pull that shared content into different projects based on format (the aforementioned HTML, XML, and so forth).

    Oh...although not related to CMS, I'd also be interested in exploring any application that could be used to create flash-type movies to be used as tutorials. I can't recall the name of the software my predecessor used, but I checked while at work, and it's not open source.

    Any ideas would certainly be appreciated as always.


    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  2. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

    I've used Drupal, Plone, and Joomla fairly extensively. Of the three, I feel that Joomla is the best choice. It's flexible, friendly, and looks like it will have excellent support well into the future. The selection of predesigned templates for it is incredible. Plone is, well, odd. My installations have always had quirks I've never liked. Drupal seems to be written by developers for developers and is expressly designed to piss normal people off. I personally hope that all of the developers involved in Drupal get jock itch because I firmly believe that the torment you inflict on others should be revisited upon you tenfold.
    Certifications: Lots.
    WIP: Upgrading MS certs
  3. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

    I think I remember freddy mentioning Plone at sometime Trip. But I can't remember if he liked it or not.
    I also think freddy would be one of your greatest resources for open source. He does know his stuff when it comes to that area.

    Also swish makes flash movies, while not open source a hell of alot cheaper then adobe flash. How well it works now I don't know. But I've seen on boards where people really like it.
    Certifications: Microcomputers and network specialist.
    WIP: Adobe DW, PS
  4. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

    I've heard that Typo3 is also a good one and relatively easy to learn. Here is a site based on that a friend of mine put together.
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
    WIP: MCSA, 70-622,680,685
  5. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    I been working with enterprise CMS's for five years now, not spent much time with open source ones though.

    I've also heard Drupal and Joomla to be the front runners. Theres Also Magnolia, Alfresco and ExoPortal in the Java space but they aren't as mature or full featured.

    Also products tend to vary a lot in exactly what they offer and what they define a CMS as.

    Whats wrong with sharepoint ? Aren't you keen to use your sharepoint expertise ?
  6. fortch

    fortch Kilobyte Poster

    I've set a few sites up in Joomla (and Mambo, fwiw), and it is the easier of the free CMS's to use. I've also used XOOPS, PHP-Nuke, and even TYPO3, but wasn't too thrilled with any of them. I've heard some great things about Plone too, but haven't had much need to move from Joomla -- especially since the introduction of JSAS. Such a great way to develop sites locally, with a standalone solution.

    Out of the ones I've used, TYPO3 was the 800lb gorilla. Problem was, it's a bit tough for linux n00bs like me to get up and running smoothly. Nuke had too many security holes, and XOOPS didn't make sense at the time (in terms of GUI). Joomla is a bit redundant (3 ways to do everything), and it can be confusing at first, but the user/dev community rocks.
    Certifications: A+,Net+,Sec+,MCSA:Sec,MCSE:Sec,mASE
  7. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    These are all great ideas (and I'd initially settled on Drupal), but apparently, there was some miscommunication involved. The developer in question didn't mean to say "content management" but "content markup". :oops:

    My bad. We had several interesting conversations and after the blessing of the powers that be, it looks like I'll be using LaTeX to craft content. That means that the Windows XP PC will go bye-bye and Ubuntu will replace it. Next week is gonna be busy. :ohmy:biggrin
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  8. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    Good old donald knuth eh ? Where would we be without him ? :biggrin

    I'm surprised everythings not XML flavoured these days, goes to show no need to reinvent the wheel every time...

    Do people still use latex ? Would have thought these days it would be all postscript and pdf ?
  9. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

    I must really be out of date then.... I like LaTex. I'm not real good at it yet, but I like it's capabilities for both print and web. Right now for web content I've been playing a lot with reStructured Text and really like it. It's easy to learn and I can create nice looking web content much more quickly than with html. All it takes is a text editor and you're set to go. I was creating nice-looking documents within a half hour of first seeing it. Of course, your site has to be set up to display it, but as easy as it is to use I find it very handy.
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
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