In short, Joomla. Its fast, effective, powerful and flexible.
Drupal does this sort of thing well; you'd use Views, CCK, and Faceted Search modules. There is a module that integrates Apache Solr for improved search performance.
I think it depends a lot on where you see this site going in the medium term (and in the website world, I guess that's 6 months to a year).
Joomla and Drupal will be fine for a standard architecture. If you're looking for something more complex or something personalized, they will hit their limits. So for example, the question is what you mean by "search for records from a list of 1000 to 5000 items"
I think that within a few months the number of records in my searchable list will be about 1000-2000. Each record will contain about 15 text fields. I imagine that within 6 months there will be about 10,000 visits per month. Each visitor would be doing their own search of the list.
Well if your site is primarily the records you describe and the search function, I would not use a CMS but create it directly. A CMS is not made for listing, searching and displaying records. Creating it directly will be much more flexible and faster to develop - and will be much faster in searching and displaying the search results.
What's more, you could then add features such as enable a visitor to create an account where they record their search criteria, request to receive automatic emails when there is new data matching their search, etc.
Louponne, thank you for your informative response. I really appreciate it. I'm a newbie so am not sure what I should use to create the site directly. should I be creating it directly using something like Microsoft Visual Web Developer Express, or something else? I'm just not sure where to start.
I really like your thoughts on making the searching faster and the displaying of the results faster. Thats my goal since the bulk of the site will be the abilty to search my list (and to add comments/reviews to any of the records in my list).
Hm, I doubt that Microsoft Visual Web Developer Express would be of much use here.
I think that what I'd do is:
a) look to see if there are open-source site applications that can do what you're talking about. For example, you can find open-source applications to run a blog or a forum or a CMS. Maybe there are applications that can run a site that presents products or items for review/etc and that has a search function. See if there's something that has the features you need.
b) if that's not available, or if your needs are too specific, then build it or get it built. To do that, though, you need programming knowledge (or find a friend who does) - you won't be able to create it using an "automatic" system.
I prefer modx for its extensive customizability & power.
See if Alfresco WCM is good for you. I am researching this myself at the moment. It looks very promising.
I stopped looking at Drupal as its work flow management isn't good and it isn't good for publishing from development to staging to beta to production. You cannot just copy content from a database and insert it in an other. Basically because all database items are incremental numbered and therefore not inter-changeable.
ps. Alfresco uses Apache lucene/Solr as its search engine
Google for drupal vs joomla. I went down this same path many months ago. Ive since been using Drupal and havent looked back.
Here's what I would do for what you describe.
1. Find a site that does what you want yours to do.
2. Look at the code and see if it is obvious what script they are using to create the site. Then if it is free or available for a fee snag that and use it to make your site or if you can't see what they are using or it is not available to you go over to get a freelancer dot com and post the job to get quotes for making a clone.
Have you looked at CMS Matrix? It might help in ruling out a certain CMS based on features you know you'll want.
Drupal offers a sophisticated programming interface for developers, no programming skills are required for basic website installation and administration.
I've heard Joomla is soft on the users. Drupal takes a lot of time to understand the framework much less if you are a newbie programmer.
One other issue you could look at are the SEO issues that might come up when you decide to promote the site. Various CMS have issues in this regard. There was a discussion about this on this forum at [webmasterworld.com...]
Well, that discussion dates back to 2006 and though I haven't begun my involved study yet, I'm sure that they have all evolved since then!
Thanks for the link to the matrix, but because there too some of the CMS info is outdated, I'm not sure it's that useful!