Looking for a CMS

IT Conversations has outgrown my homebrew content-management system and I’m looking for a replacement, preferably one written in PHP. Any recommendations?

During my research I’ve discovered that the term “content-manatement system,” which meant one thing in the pre-Web days, now usually refers to a web-site creation, management and runtime tool, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I just want a good behind-the-scenes package for managing the content on the input side of the database.

The IT Conversations site is rendered dynamically and statically from a MySQL database using PHP, Smarty (templates) and a fair amount of custom code. I’m happy with the rendering side of things. But I’ve also got a web-based admin system for adding and editing the data from which the site is rendered, and that’s the piece I want to replace. For example, the current system has no concepts of users or groups, so I can’t safely invite others to manage portions of the content.

As I look (superficially) at packages luke Drupal and Mambo, it doesn’t appear that they can be used to manage an arbitrary schema. Rather you’ve got to use their schemas, and I’d prefer not to have to convert the entire site, since I like the way it’s organized internally.

11 thoughts on “Looking for a CMS

  1. I think you might have a problem finding something to work with your schema. Every PHP package I’ve looked at (alot) have their own. If you can’t find one, I would recommend taking a look at Expression Engine. It’s very, very flexible and could easily be set up to mimic your current organization (structure). It’s also very secure, has membership/groups, and probably anything else you might need. And, you could likely export/import your current data. It also has a very active support forum.
    Expression Engine
    Good Luck!!!


  2. I use ExpressionEngine from pMachine.com for our newspapers and internal corporate CMS needs. It allows you to create multiple categories and multiple weblogs, supports custom fields, includes some hefty anti-spam tools, and is incredibly simple to use. It’s commercial ($200) but the source is open and there’s a thriving community of users and plug-in and module developers.


  3. Drupal. http://drupal.org

    At SSC (publishers of Linux Journal) we’ve done a pile of research, and trial & error, and found Drupal to be the best alternative. It also has a killer community. Not perfect (I hate that they use “blog” to mean at least two different things, neither of which is what the rest of us call a blog), but the best of the breed. Or so say our techies, who are far more qualified than mself.


  4. I figured Doc would mention Drupal 🙂
    You might be interested in this short comparison of Drupal and EE by someone using both…one statement…”Expression Engine lends itself very well to the core concepts of content management and Drupal to social networking or community driven sites.”


  5. Okay, I’m getting lots of votes for Drupal, but how well does it adapt to being used as an editing UI for a non-Drupal schema? Ian understands this challenge and suggests phpLens for this application.

    Can Drupal handle this? How easy is it to create HTML forms to edit and manage my existing relational schema of “series” and “shows” and do so within Drupal’s concepts of role-based authentication?


  6. Have you considered recoding the backend? It would seem a shame to discard the code you already have, since it seems to be working for you now. A basic CMS backend with user and groups wouldn’t be hard to put together in PHP (I’ve done quite a few myself).


  7. Ryan, All options are still open. I’m going to have to re-code at least something I’m sure. Most of the code driving the site executes during the ‘publish’ process, i.e., when a show is enabled. That event triggers all sorts of RSS, email stuff, etc. I also have a lot of hourly and daily rendering of static pages from the database for performance reasons, and none of that code needs to be changed. So at this point, changing just the authoring side is the shortest path to what I need.


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