03 February 2009

Content Management Systems

For what seems like the last two years, I've been psyching myself up for a re-design of my Mantex web site. It's ten years old now, and showing its age. The 1,400+ pages are all hand-coded, and an update to any design features was a nightmare until I recently started using style sheets.

I asked everyone I could think of, and the answer seemed to be, use a content management system (with templates) plus an eCommerce option - both open sources. So far so good, but then comes the question - which CMS to use? There were three options so far as I could see - Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal.

Wordpress was originally designed as blogging software, but recently lots of extra features have been added and free plug-ins and templates designed. Enthusiasts claimed that ease of use outweighed any high-tech limitations. I opened an account and started a trial blog there to get a feeling for the interface. It's neat, clean, and produces fairly stylish results. I even nicked the header graphic and stuck in this blog.

But eager not to miss out on something more sophisticated, I also tried Joomla. This too produces clean-looking results when I tried with a test version of my Texman site. But after spending several hours finding my way round its counter-intuitively named control panel sections, I threw in the towel. I could see a six or twelve month learning curve rising before me.

All the wisdom gathered so far adds up to this: they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. But nobody I have consulted yet has managed to persuade me that a normal human being can handle Drupal without two years' training in a sealed room. So I'm back at Wordpress.

I just thought I would pass on these few words of experience just in case anybody else was thinking of doing the same thing.

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