On blogging and software and Web sites

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.

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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6 Responses to On blogging and software and Web sites

  1. Ainsley says:

    Joomla is an incredible CMS – I personally favor that for anything that cannot be readily adapted using WP blogging software. With the number of plugins out there for Joomla – you can do most anything. Hang in there for the learning curve, its worth it to see whats around the bend! Just make sure you use Version 1.5.6 – its the most stable and fixes several major patches that were needed for server security. Previous versions had bugs that open up holes in the system. Not to mention some of the really cool themes out there for Joomla – Rocketthemes.com, etc.

  2. After playing with both Drupal and Joomla (I love owning lots of domain names — it makes this stuff possible), I have to agree. Joomla looks a lot easier to use, and, considering that WordPress can do all we need it to, Joomla should have no problem.

    I think it’s a question of exactly what features we need and can imagine. I’ve never run into something WordPress can’t do either natively or with a plugin — and I’ve coded some pretty cool features. So Joomla’s learning curve may be unnecessary. We’ll see; it’s Ben’s call. I just whine if he makes the wrong one.

  3. I’ve actually been toying around with WordPress 2.6 after dealing with the old school 2.3 for sometime, and off the bat – I don’t like it as much. But the ease of use of WordPress will probably keep me (and a lot of people) hooked on it. Some people out there that want a web presence don’t want to take the time to cover the “learning curve,” wouldn’t you agree?

  4. Ainsley says:

    I agree, the “learning curve” for Joomla is only for those who intend to produce content that requires a high degree of interaction and security. For example, Joomla has modules that you can purchase as add-ons for analytics, communicator, chronoforms, kw_visitors, activeflash, seosimple, joobb, jooblog, jportfolio, etc.

    WP 2.6 has some GREAT capabilities and one of my favorite sites shows how much can be done with it — http://www.photoshoplady.com/ — she’s an extreme WP user.

  5. Joomla is pretty much the best CMS out there.

    You can dowload a testing version over here on my website:

    http://www.anonsolutions.com/Free-Downloads/

    Then click on Joom2Go_1.5

    You can then work offline at your own pace to try it out.

    If anyone has questions feel free to email me from my website.

  6. I have a pretty bad Front Page site from 2001, will be moving it to Joomla 1.5 pretty soon, the only way to go if you ask me!

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