Content management system

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1 Definition

A content management system (CMS) is a system that permits to create and to organise the creation of content. Generally a CMS is a multiuser web based application that manages a website.

Note: CMS also may stand for course management system, but outside some restricted e-learning community, "C" stands for "Content".

2 Introduction

Generally all CMS have different common features:

User input
  • users don't need to have HTML expertises, WYSIWYG or WiKi syntax solutions are implemented to help the users to create or to edit the content of a web page
Content management
  • manage the content and easely structure it
  • Content architects can configure structure and menus of the system. This is not always easy and various systems differ a lot. Some only provide minimal functionality, other a series of "mini-cms" tools.
Layout and Contents
  • separate the structure of a web page from its content
  • easy installation of a CMS (usually through a web-based installer)
  • default templates for the graphical appearance, possibility to download other templates.
  • easy change of the templates (directly via CSS files)
  • easy administration of the website via a web interface
  • multi language support for administration tools
  • sometimes possibility to store the different versions of an edited page
  • user and permission management
  • Most systems have groupware modules (like forums, and file sharing)
  • Possibility to extend the system with modules / plugins. Usually there is a documented API

3 CMS in education

  • To build a site with educational contents
  • To engage students in project-oriented writing activities
  • To present your school/organization etc.

4 Standards

Standards for data exchange are only slowly emerging. Up to now (feb 2011), migrating contents from one CMS to another is quite a nightmare. In other words, adopting almost any CMS means that your are stuck with it for the worse or the better ...

There are a few exceptions restricted to very specific data types, e.g. data standards for news feeds (RSS) or low-level e-learning IMS Content Packaging. See data exchange standard for more information.

5 Links

5.1 CMS Software

CMS systems are implemented with various kinds of portalware.

The list below only includes systems that focus on content management, i.e. allow/constrain editing of contents through some kind of structured and engineered system.

See 'portalware' for a more general list of software to build portals. (Almost any portal is a kind of CMS, since it lets users add contents ...).

Small and free CMS (in the more narrow sense)
Big systems
  • Some enterprise portals offer CMS functionality
  • Others focus on content management, but are rather difficult to configure

5.2 Other resources

  • OpenSourceCMS: you can try a portalware before installing it
  • cms matrix: useful to compare the features of different CMS