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Idealware publishes updated Open Source CMS report

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big fan of Idealware, the nonprofit that does research and publishes information on technology for other nonprofits.

So it comes as no surprise that I have been delighted to co-author the  2010 Comparing Open Source Content Management Systems: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Plone report. It includes unbiased detailed reviews with a feature summary,  as well as a directory of consultants. Read more ›

From the Idealware Blog

More Fun with Open Source Content Management

(originally posted at

I’m really thrilled that the Idealware report comparing 4 top-notch open source content management systems is now available. I think it will prove invaluable to nonprofits of all shapes and sizes for a long time to come and know I will be recommended reading for many friends and potential and future clients.

Even if you have already seen the CMS Showdown and the competition sites implemented on WordPress, Drupal and Joomla now that the report is out they are worth another look.

If you didn’t make it to SXSW conference or haven’t heard about this brilliant project – here is an excerpt from the site:

Originally presented at South By Southwest Interactive in March, 2009, the Ultimate Showdown of Content Management System Destiny is an “Iron Chef”-style competition pitting three teams of all-star Web developers from the Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress communities against each other to develop the same Web site in each of their chosen open source content management platforms.

In addition to a fascinating look behind the scenes at each teams decision-making process, there are lots of productive insights to be gained by looking at the finished products of their labors. Many of the key points in the Idealware report are evident on the demo sites and by reading the team notes.

Despite (or maybe because of) the 100 hour total development time limit, each site demonstrates its system’s strengths and weakness fairly accurately or I should say in keeping with my own experiences of them. Not all of them managed to accomplish all the requirements, which points out what takes more time or work to implement for that particular system.

One thing that can be confusing is that the specifications for the site required that most of the content be available only to authenticated users. The sites for Drupal and Joomla, who were able to achieve this, seem a bit bare, especially Drupal where they didn’t create any publicly viewable items in some areas. So you can’t access the galleries, blogs or member listings and its a pity that there doesn’t seem to be a demo user/password available anywhere to see the full sites. If anyone knows of one, I would love to take a look.

Also, sadly there was no invitation for a Plone team this time around, but if you want to see it included next time I’d suggest you contact the organizers.

Check out the CMS Showdown as a handy companion piece to the Idealware CMS report for a real world apples to apples demonstration (sort of) of how each system looks at some familiar features. And read the team notes on for some helpful hints and tricks the they used on the sites.

Eating my own dogfood

If you have visited my site before you are probably noticing some drastic changes and long overdue upgrades.

After years of being too busy to update my built-by-hand HTML site I have finally taken the advice I give to all my clients and moved the site into a database driven solution. Although it was a tough choice between Plone, Drupal, Joomla and WordPress I finally decided on WordPress.

One reason is that my site is small and basic and I wanted to demonstrate how nicely WordPress can serve as a content management system for simple sites like this. I have added a couple bells and whistles for usability and fun.

In the middle of this redesign, or more toward what I thought was the end really, WordPress released a new version that had me going back to the drawing board for a while since the plugins I had planned to use were not up to date and compatible with the new version. Needless to say I was not such a happy camper at first, but in the end I think the site is better for the changes.

For the curious and technically inclined, here’s a list of what I have used on top of WordPress 2.7:

Its still not perfect and I hope to find the time between clients to keep improving the site but hopefully having a CMS and all the nifty plugins will result in making it easier to keep this site up to date and useful for my visitors. I have plans for expansion in the near future and am also starting up a Email newsletter that I hope folks will find useful and fun. Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave your thoughts about the redesign in the comments.

Sample Web Site Project Plan

Although every project is unique, I have found that sometimes its helpful to get a sense of the common steps involved in a visual way. I decided to post the generic project plan I share with my clients here in the hopes that it will help someone just diving into their Web site or redesign project get a handle on what to consider.

Download the Sample Project Plan PDF (385k) here.

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