I have been remiss by not writing more here. So here’s some more. Between the CREST surveys, the looming-in-the-distance remake of the VAR Web site, the potential remake of VARbuzz, and the request by my son’s school for me to help with its Web site — well, I spent a lot of time thinking about content management this weekend.
I love the term "content management" because it sounds so… serious. "I handle content management for VAR" sounds intimidating. Of course, all content management means (in this sense) is "Making sure that the things people write appear in the proper place(s) on the Web site."
Blogging back-end software, such as WordPress, is a content-management system or CMS. A lot has to happen with a blog, although you don’t think about it. This post will appear on the front page until it gets pushed off by a certain number of other posts. But you can also view it as a standalone entry long after it’s gone from the home page.
The system also knows that it belongs to the "August 2008" group and to the "Andrew" group, so if you decide to browse by either of those methods you’ll also see it. Ditto if you search the site for, say, the word "calliope" which appears in this post.
So that’s content management — making sure that what you write ends up where you want it.
WordPress is a CMS that was originally designed for blogging, but is not a lot more powerful. It can easily act as the back end for a major Web site. Also in the running for acting as the back end are Joomla and Drupal. They’re both more powerful than WordPress (i.e., they have more features out of the box), but have a steeper learning curve. And I don’t know which sites will require which features, so they could be overkill.
The cool thing, though, is that all three of these world-class CMSs are free. Free as in speech, and free as in beer. That’s incredible. They’re also tiny — WordPress and Drupal could fit on a floppy disk. (Joomla is the largest of the bunch; it’s a 4 MB download.)
So getting, installing, and playing with any of these systems is cheap and easy. I already know WordPress, but I feel the need to dive into Joomla and Drupal to learn all they can do. Well, most of what they can do. Because, as I commented to Ben the other day, they’re like the 1,000-piece toolsets at Sears: You can do anything with them, but that can be a bit intimidating.