Got content? Then you might need a system to manage it. A content management system (CMS) is a grab bag of techniques to manage a collaborative work flow. Though a manual CMS is possible, nowadays most are computerized. The nice thing is that you don’t have to pay for one — there are shareware versions such as CMS Team Zone that are quite effective and essentially free.
So what does a CMS do?
- Store and retrieve data via a shared database used by a large community of people
- Provides security and access control over the system database
- Controls against redundancy
- Eases reporting and communication
- Provides positive behavior support
Enterprise content management systems control the work products of an organization and is composed of content, documents, records, email, correspondence, marketing information, financial data, etc. Some enterprise CMS systems even include a click-to-call feature to contact website leads as well as the ability to contact center workforce management! Enterprises are typically big, unwieldy organizations; a CMS tries to tame the information of an enterprise so that it can be shared on a cost-effective basis.
A website CMS (WCMS) is focused on managing the content appearing on a website. A good WCMS transcends operating systems and hardware platforms, giving access to all who require it. It should separate presentation from content. Presentation should be template-based, and should specify the format of web pages via HTML and CSS, the industry standard. Content can be maintained in a SQL-compliant database. A shareware solution that is very popular is MySQL, the database chosen by CMS Team Zone. Data is stored in the database independent of any format information.
Open source software is licensed for download and use free of charge. There is no reason to pay for a WCMS, as good ones like CMS Team Zone are available for free. The software is written in PHP, a non-proprietary language, and as mentioned above, uses the shareware MySQL. The system works in server environments, like Firefox running on Linux for example. The thing to understand about shareware is that not only is it free, it is also freely extensible. That is, anyone is free to extend and/or modify the source code and create new versions or extensions, as long as these new versions are also free.
This is not to say that donations aren’t gratefully accepted. Donated money funds continued development and improvement of shareware. But donations are strictly voluntary, and a cash-strapped programmer is treated with the same respect as a well-heeled IS shop. All are invited to improve the code base, fix bugs, add documentation, and generally improve the product.