Choosing an Open Source CMS: Beginner's Guide

Choosing an Open Source CMS: Beginner's Guide
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Table of Contents
Sample Chapters
  • Understand different types of CMSs and select the one that best fits your needs
  • Install and customize a CMS with themes and plug-ins
  • Learn key concepts of Content Management Systems and how to systematically assess your requirements
  • Introduction to the major CMSs including Joomla!, Drupal, WordPress, Plone, Magento, Alfresco, and more
  • A hands-on, easy-to-read guide that gives you practical tips on hosting, project management, working with specialists and communities, and finding experts

Book Details

Language : English
Paperback : 340 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]
Release Date : April 2009
ISBN : 1847196225
ISBN 13 : 9781847196224
Author(s) : Nirav Mehta
Topics and Technologies : All Books, CMS and eCommerce, Beginner's Guides, Content Management (CMS), Open Source

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Do I Even Want an Open Source CMS?
Chapter 2: Evaluating Your Options
Chapter 3: Understanding your Requirements
Chapter 4: Building the Site
Chapter 5: Content Editing and Management
Chapter 6: Templates and Plug-ins
Chapter 7: Extending and Customizing
Chapter 8: Blog CMSs
Chapter 9: Web CMSs
Chapter 10: CMS for e-commerce
Chapter 11: Team Collaboration CMSs
Chapter 12: Specialized CMSs
Chapter 13: Hosting your CMS-Powered Site
Chapter 14: Getting Involved in the Community
Chapter 15: Working with a Specialist
Chapter 16: Packt Open Source CMS Awards
  • Chapter 2: Evaluating Your Options
    • Genres of Content Management Systems
      • Portals or general-purpose CMSs
        • Core features
        • Possible uses
        • Example sites
        • Top general-purpose CMSs
      • Blog CMSs
        • Core features
        • Possible uses
        • Example sites
        • Top blog CMSs
      • e-Commerce CMSs
        • Core features
        • Possible uses
        • Example sites
        • Top e-Commerce CMSs
      • Wiki CMSs
        • Core features
        • Possible uses
        • Example sites
        • Top Wiki CMSs
      • Forum CMSs
        • Core features
        • Possible uses
        • Example sites
        • Top forum CMSs
      • eLearning CMSs
        • Core Features
        • Possible uses
        • Example sites
        • Top eLearning CMSs
      • Collaboration CMSs
        • Core features
        • Possible uses
        • Top intranet CMSs
      • Photo gallery CMSs
        • Core features
        • Possible uses
        • Example sites
        • Top photo gallery CMSs
    • Different types, but strong overlap
    • Understanding CMS technologies
      • PHP is most popular for CMSs
      • But why does the technology choice matter?
    • Summary
  • Chapter 3: Understanding your Requirements
    • Setting our expectations right
      • Time for action-setting your expectations for "The Yoga Site"
      • Creating intended outcomes
    • Measuring your site
      • Time for action-measuring the scale of your site
      • Are you expecting a lot of visitors?
    • Working with others
      • Time for action-determining compliance and interoperability needs
    • Determining additional feature requirements
      • Time for action-choosing additional features
    • Summary
  • Chapter 4: Building the Site
    • Get hands-on experience with a CMS
      • Time for action-taking a test drive
      • Checking out a live demo
    • Create navigation structure
      • Time for action-creating navigation structure
      • Do you need a different navigation structure?
    • Understanding technical requirements
      • Time for action-understanding technical requirements
    • Installing a CMS
      • Before the installation
        • Creating a database
        • Uploading files using FTP
        • Using phpMyAdmin
        • Managing file permissions
      • Time for action-install WordPress
    • Summary
  • Chapter 5: Content Editing and Management
    • Adding content to our site
      • Time for action-adding a page
      • What is WYSIWYG? Why is it important?
      • Adding images
      • Time for action-adding images
    • Maintaining content
      • Time for action-adding metadata
        • Tagging is keywords on steroids!
      • Allowing people to contribute
    • Summary
  • Chapter 6: Templates and Plug-ins
    • Giving a professional look to our site
      • Using templates
      • Time for action-finding a good template
        • Template selection criteria
        • Where to find templates
      • Time for action-setting up a template
        • Different CMSs have different templates
        • Free, paid, or custom
    • Enhancing functionality with plug-ins
      • Plug-ins, or modules, or extensions
      • The plug-ins that you need
      • Time for action-finding a photo gallery plug-in
      • Time for action-showing a photo gallery on our site
      • No coding required
      • Uninstalling a plug-in
    • Summary
  • Chapter 7: Extending and Customizing
    • Customize a template
      • Fixing the site logo
      • Time for action-replacing the default logo in our template
      • Changing the site color
      • Changing the menu style
      • Time for action-advancing customization via CSS changes
      • Customizations may need code changes
        • What is a programming language? Is it easy?
    • Understanding the code architecture
      • Understanding the level of support
        • And there are books!
    • Finding professional help
    • Summary
  • Chapter 8: Blog CMSs
    • The first question-do I need a self-hosted or service-based CMS?
      • Top blogging CMSs
      • Let us cover the top choices
    • Taking WordPress for a test drive
      • Time for action-managing content with WordPress
    • Extending WordPress
      • Time for action-customizing the design
      • Customizing the theme
      • WordPress widgets
      • Add unlimited power with plug-ins
      • Comments or spam
      • Additional resources
    • Evaluating Movable Type
      • Time for action-managing content with Movable Type
      • Customizing Movable Type
      • Additional resources
    • Expressing opinions with ExpressionEngine
      • Time for action-managing content with ExpressionEngine
      • Customizing ExpressionEngine
      • Additional resources
    • Searching for more alternatives
    • Additional help is also available
    • Summary
  • Chapter 9: Web CMSs
    • Do you want a CMS or a portal?
      • Time for action-managing content with CMS Made Simple
      • Time for action-exploring customization options
    • Diving into Drupal
      • Time for action-putting Drupal to the test
      • Drupal code quality
    • Is Joomla! the best choice?
      • Joomla! gives you more
    • SilverStripe—easy and extensive
      • Notable features
      • Is it for you?
    • ezPublish—enterprise CMS
      • Is it for you?
    • Umbraco—rising high
      • Notable features
      • Is it for you?
    • DotNetNuke—the first you may notice
      • Notable features
      • Is it for you?
    • Plone—for Python lovers
      • Notable features
      • Is it for you?
    • dotCMS—enterprise and Java
      • Notable features
      • Is it for you?
    • Where to find more?
    • Summary
  • Chapter 10: CMS for e-commerce
    • Content or commerce?
      • So what are your options?
    • Magento—open source e-commerce evolved
      • Time for action-adding products with Magento
      • Notable Magento features
        • Single page checkout
        • Product attributes
        • Full control over design
        • Magento as a CMS
      • Other features
      • Is it for you?
    • VirtueMart—bringing e-commerce to Joomla!
      • Time for action-adding products and selling them
      • Is it for you?
      • What about Drupal and WordPress?
    • Freeway—e-commerce for products, events, services, and subscriptions
      • Time for action-selling weekly yoga class registrations
      • Other notable features
    • Other notable e-commerce CMSs
      • osCommerce and variants
      • PrestaShop—a breath of fresh air
      • DashCommerce—for .Net
      • Looking for even more?
    • Summary
  • Chapter 11: Team Collaboration CMSs
    • Why a collaboration CMS?
      • Can we use any CMS on the intranet?
    • Alfresco—an enterprise CMS
      • Time for action-planning the Yoga Site with Alfresco
      • Alfresco Explorer
      • Time for action-creating workflows and revisions with Alfresco
      • Document detail page
      • Alfresco can do much more
    • Finding alternatives to Alfresco
      • Mix and match
    • Summary
  • Chapter 12: Specialized CMSs
    • Wiki CMSs: The power of collective contribution
      • Time for action-creating events listing for the Yoga Site
      • What makes Wikis special?
      • Other Wiki software
      • Additional resources
    • Discussion forums: helping each other
      • Time for action-discussions on yoga products
      • What makes forums special?
      • Other forum software
      • Additional resources
    • Photo galleries: Sharing memories
      • Time for action-posting team photos online
      • What makes galleries special?
      • Other photo gallery software
      • Additional resources
    • Online learning: facilitating learning
      • Time for action-creating a yoga course
      • What makes e-learning special?
      • Other e-learning software
      • Additional resources
    • Other specialized CMSs
    • Summary
  • Chapter 13: Hosting your CMS-Powered Site
    • Do I need hosting?
    • Keep this in mind—hosting evaluation parameters
    • Hosting on your own machine
    • Finding a good host
    • Common tasks and problems in hosting
      • Making sense of the welcome email
      • Time for action-create a database with cPanel
      • Using FTP to upload files
      • Changing permissions for files or folders
      • Editing files with an online file manager
      • Time for action-editing a file using cPanel File Manager
      • Apache configuration with .htaccess
      • You may find this useful—some hints and tips
    • Summary
  • Chapter 15: Working with a Specialist
    • Basics of Software Project Management
      • Software development Stages
      • Recommended readings
    • Finding the right expert
      • Finding experts online
      • Look for CMS experts
    • Outsourcing requires different thinking
      • Further reading
    • Tracking progress and controlling
      • Online project management tools
    • Handling risks and conflicts
      • Risk management
      • Conflict resolution
    • Succeed with your project—recommendations
    • Summary
  • Chapter 16: Packt Open Source CMS Awards
    • Why an award?
    • Award methodology
    • 2008 award winners
      • Drupal
      • Joomla!
      • DotNetNuke
      • SilverStripe
      • CMS Made Simple
      • Plone
      • dotCMS
      • ImpressCMS
      • MiaCMS
    • Other finalists
    • Most valued professionals
    • Summary

Nirav Mehta

Nirav Mehta is renowned for his entrepreneurial ventures, his breakthrough ideas, and his contribution to open source. Nirav leads a software development company – Magnet Technologies – from India that specializes in Rich Internet Applications, Web, and Mobile. Nirav believes in simplifying the most complicated ideas and presenting them in lucid language.

Over the last ten years, Nirav has written and spoken on a variety of topics. He has also been instrumental in localization efforts in India and training programmers to be effective developers.

He has set up a website completely dedicated to the book. You can find more information on it here:

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Sample chapters

You can view our sample chapters and prefaces of this title on PacktLib or download sample chapters in PDF format.

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What you will learn from this book

  • Analyze your web site's CMS requirements, and identify the CMS options that best suit your needs
  • Explore the differences between the major CMSs, and understand which CMS option best fits your site
  • Assess your technical skill level and choose a CMS that combines ease of use with flexibility and power
  • Extensive discussion and quick start guides for several major CMSs: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, and more
  • Discover "speciality CMSs" for specific requirements: intranets, document sharing, community, e-commerce, blogging, and more.
  • Know how to choose the right developers and designers to customize the CMS to your requirements
  • Know what to do when your CMS plays up: troubleshoot, get help from the community, and make full use of the documentation
  • Make sure your web site gets the best hosting: find an ISP that can provide your CMS with the web hosting it needs, or learn about hosting the site on your own server
  • Investigate the plug-ins available for each CMS – plug-ins extend the power of a CMS, meaning that you can build features into your site that the CMS on its own might not provide

Section 1: Opening up to open source CMSs

Chapter 1: Do I even want an open source CMS? – When and how a content management system is useful. Why open source? Readymade or custom built?

Chapter 2: Exploring your options – Different CMS types, their purposes and different CMS technologies

Section 2: Thinking your choices through

Chapter 3: Understanding your site requirements – brainstorm and clarify your requirements, standard compliance, scale of the site, and key features

Chapter 4: Building the site – trying out CMSs, technical requirements, downloading and installation, configuration, creating navigation

Chapter 5: Content editing & maintaining the site – using WYSIWYG editors, adding pictures, publishing content, creating links

Chapter 6: Available plug-ins and templates – adding a photo gallery, customizing design via templates

Chapter 7: Extending and customizing – understand CMS's code quality, make code level changes to understand complexity

Section 3: CMSs by breed

Chapter 8: Blog CMSs – perform typical tasks with the top 3 blog choices, evaluate features

Chapter 9: Web CMSs – using top web CMSs, customizing them, and gaining key CMS skills

Chapter 10: E-Commerce CMSs – managing product/service-based e-commerce sites with CMSs; which would be best for you?

Chapter 11: Intranet/internal CMSs – internal sites for collaboration and communication, workflow, access privileges, and version tracking; Alfresco

Chapter 12: Specialized CMSs – CMSs that serve niches – e-learning, wiki, photo galleries, discussion forums and so on

Section 4: Open source CMS tips

Chapter 13: Hosting your CMS-powered site – selecting and working with a web host

Chapter 14: Working with CMS communities – asking questions, learning from documentation, and getting help

Chapter 15: Working with a specialist – finding experts, evaluating them, tips for project management, and outsourced teams

Chapter 16: Packt open source CMS award winners – Best CMSs voted by community and experts

In Detail

There are many powerful open source CMSs available to take the pain away from managing a web site. These systems are feature rich, often easy to use, and free. Unfortunately, there are so many choices it's tough to be sure you're choosing the right one. How can you be sure that you are selecting and working with the right tool?

This book will guide you through choosing the right CMS for your needs. You can be confident in your choice of CMS for the needs of your project. It will also help you make a start using the CMS, and give you a feel for what it's like to use it – even before you install it yourself.

Are you bewildered by the many open source CMSs available online? Open source CMSs are the best way to create and manage sophisticated web sites. You can create a site that precisely meets your business goals, and keep the site up to date easily because these systems give you full control over every aspect of your site. Because open source CMSs are free to download, you have a huge amount of choice between the various systems.

Yet there are many open source CMSs to choose from, each with unique strengths – and occasionally limitations too. Choosing between the bewildering number of options can be tough.

Making the wrong choice early on may lead to a lot of wasted work, because you'll have a half-finished site that doesn't meet your initial requirements – and needs to be restarted from scratch.

This book will show you how to avoid choosing the wrong CMS. It will guide you through assessing your site requirements, and then using that assessment to identify the CMS that will best fit your needs. It contains discussions of the major CMSs, and the issues that you should consider when choosing: their complexity to use, their features and the power they offer. It discusses technical considerations such as programming languages and compliance with best practice standards in a clear, friendly way that non-technical readers can understand.

The book also contains quick-start guides and examples for the most popular CMSs such as WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal, so that you can experiment with these CMSs, get a feel for how they work, and start using them to build your site.

After reading this book, you can be confident that your CMS choice will support your web site's needs because you have carefully assessed your requirements and explored the available options.

Select and use the best open source content management system for your needs – even if you have never seen one before.


This is a practical guide that takes a task-centered approach. Each task is stepped through with detailed instructions. You will come across many step-by-step examples with plenty of screenshots and resources. This book provides all the support and guidance you need as you begin to work with CMSs. It even has additional tasks that you can carry out to build your skills further. Everything is oriented towards managing content with a CMS.

Who this book is for

This book is written for anyone who wants to start a web site and is looking for a good CMS. It is best suited for people who are selecting a CMS for their sites and people who will manage a CMS. Knowledge of web basics is certainly helpful, but not needed.

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