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Content Management Forum

Need for open source CMS? Develop my Own?
I have my own (free) programmer, should I develop my own software?

 9:48 am on Sep 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have read the library here and a number of posts, plus I've watched videos on WordPress and Drupal. But I still have some specific questions - sorry if they're common ones.

I do intend to learn WordPress, Blogger, Drupal too, so my question isn't about the merits of these systems. It's about suitability of purpose for my needs.

I'm launching a new section on my new site. Part of it will be a blog with the standard topical industry observations. I'll also have articles - some just simple pieces, a few hundred words. Others will be multi-page researched pieces with graphs, comparison charts, data etc. Weighty stuff (at least I hope).

I can get unlimited free programming from a knowledgeable PHP Linux guy (me pops) so I'm leaning towards getting a custom system developed that can be used as a template for client work. Clients I have right now will just be posting simple articles with comments - the classic 'blog'.

Am I right to think that a custom solution would be better?

Advantages I can see are
1) Security
No-one can see what my back-end runs on, hackers will have to work far harder.
2) Cost & Time after rollout
I don't have to get clients to host with WordPress to be fairly secure. If they don't host with WordPress, someone has to check for all patches, updates etc. Billable time (pain for the client) and not something I want to be doing anyway.
3) Lean mean install - not all the extra crap I don't want that comes bundled out of the box, I don't want to have to think about 'hacking the core' as it were.

I really just want
- text / images /links / CSS / doc upload (I use FCK Editor for the WYSIWYG interface in admin area)
- add / order categories for nav
- comments (captcha, pre-approved)
- pagination / archive
- extensionless urls
- search (via tags and detailed for all text)

This is all stuff we've done together before and won't stretch my programmer at all.

So my question is, is there any reason that I should consider pre-built CMS systems - and specifically WordPress or Blogger?

The only one I can think of is the initial time (i.e. cost). Once you've practised a bit can you install and config a system that does what I mention above plus get it styled to match the look of the existing site in a few hours?

Or am I missing something? Is there something else I'm missing about these systems that means I should consider them above a custom one?

Very grateful for comments, observations, opinions, stuff I'm overlooking etc.



 11:46 am on Sep 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Having your ows system is almost certainly the way to go. The CMS systems out there are designed to be usefull for a very wide range of people. You will generaly find that most free cms systems will be very feature rich, they will have many features that you simply won't use, yet they my not have exactly what you need.

By having your own system built you can design it to do exactly what you need. When you need more functions added to the system you can then add to your system. Almost like adding modules when you need new features.

Having a closed source content management system that you have developed may alse be better from a security point of view.



 1:38 pm on Sep 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your reply. Any other input from anyone? This seems to be far quieter than other areas of the site - or perhaps people are just going 'oh no, not this again' :)


 2:53 pm on Sep 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I must say I take the complete opposite tack that mack does.

It is true that there is no such thing as a turnkey content management system. Every website and every organization is a little different, and in terms of investment in implementation, the costs and resources required will probably not be too different. Open source is not "free."

But when you build your own from scratch, you're completely on your own. For example, while you have some initial security from obscurity, hackers are always finding obscure new vulnerabilities. How much time do you plan to devote to keep up with the latest XSS attack, the latest SQL injection method, etc.?

How large is the team you have at your disposal, the better to prevent strategic misses that limit future expansion or upgrades? Are you going to equal the testing done on software that is modified and tested constantly by tens of thousands of developers?

What happens if your "unlimited" programmer gets stumped on a deeply hidden bugó or gets too busy with another, more pressing project? Would you rather be in a position to request help on a commoditized, widely distributed platform, or have to hire someone who'll bill you for hours just to learn how your system is built?

And while bloat is something to be aware of, it's not as if you're implementing Dell's base Windows installation. Drupal is modular, and I typically run with fewer than half of the base modules running. Of course, I do run many other, third party, modules. I've had one or two of those modules abandoned on me, it is true. But you've got "unlimited" development available, so that resource could be given the source code of those modules and kept running indefinitely, right?

In this day and age, I would never counsel someone to build their own system and more than I would counsel them to build their own car. It is a far better use of resources in the long run to customize a proven platform.


 5:26 pm on Sep 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Good point and I see where you are coming from, but is there really a big difference between customization and fresh development. By customization I am not simply refering to layout and design, I mean the actual code base. The more custom your cms becomes the more it moves away from the known and proven solution.

When you get to this stage the development issue is the same as with a custom solution. To an outsider they would need to take a step back in order to see where you have gone with the code.

If you can find a cms that comes close to your need then by all means use it. Just make sure it really is up to the task and your requirements.

In any case the last thing you want to do is settle on a solution, only to discover you need to go back to the drawing board.



 8:46 pm on Sep 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

You might want to look at web frameworks, rather than complete CMS implementations. The ones that I'm most familiar with utilize Python as a scripting language, my favorite is Zope [zope2.zope.org]. Other Python frameworks include Ruby-on-Rails, Django, Turbogears...

My guess would be that the learning curve from PHP to Python is fairly easy.


 1:09 am on Sep 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

I really just want
- text / images /links / CSS / doc upload (I use FCK Editor for the WYSIWYG interface in admin area)
- add / order categories for nav
- comments (captcha, pre-approved)
- pagination / archive
- extensionless urls
- search (via tags and detailed for all text)

If this is the extent of your needs then building your own is overkill IMHO. WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal would all do fine. If you really wanted to, you could have your programmer dig into the addons and customize those to your likeing but the core products are pretty solid if you keep up with updates and get familiar with how they work!


 4:24 pm on Sep 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks guys - well I think I'm going to do both.

I'm going to install WP on a domain for a hobby site I want to start, and develop my own CMS for my business site. Then I can review both.

I had a look at WordPress.com and the features just there (let alone the downloadable version) seem to be pretty much everything I want for now, so it's definitely something I need to look into further.

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