Jeremy Smith's blog

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Better CMSs

Jeffrey Veen on CMSs

Most open source content management software is useless. The only thing worse is every commercial CMS I’ve used. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

That's a choice quote and so very, very true. I have used half-a-dozen or so CMSs, and I have found each and every one lacking. Either they did not make the "easy things easy"; or they did not come with an advanced enough toolset to appease power users. Here's a tip, if your CMS requires you to train users, it sucks. If you CMS doesn't allow people to use Dreamweaver, FrontPage, Notepad, EditPlus, etc. to edit pages, it sucks.

Here's some more quotes from Jeff's article.

Make it easy to get started.

Give first-time users a series of quick wins before things become increasingly complex. When I first log in, I want to create a Web page. Next, I’d like to add some styles. Then, I’d like to make links to some other Web pages... Please save the content ranking, on-the-fly PDF creation, community forums, and user polls for later. I may eventually want that stuff, but not the first time I log in.

Stop it with the jargon already.

I don’t know what a portlet is. Or a component, module, block, or snippet. The last system I evaluated had something called "mambots" which, to me, sounded like robotic assistance for breast-feeding.

Are you making up words to promote your differentiation in the market? If so, stop it. It’s confusing. Please just use simple words to describe the things your system does.

Why do you insist Web sites have "columns"?

I've used quite a few systems now that have the notion of a three-column layout. They give me the ability to turn columns off and on, and put "portlets" into "content-slots." Where does this assumption come from?


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    I'd have to agree. My problem with many frameworks (not just CMSs) is that using their APIs is practically learning a whole new language. It bugs me that, for example, being a Python developer actually doesn't help that much when extending Zope & Plone. Not only that, but their design seems to completely obliterate the design principles and philosophies suggested (but obviously not enforced) by the language they are implemented in. The ability to do so may be a good thing (who wants to be restricted?), but it certainly doesn't help anyone who wants to pick up their system.

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