Content Management System (CMS) is a term to denote a class of applications which permit sharing of ideas, documents, images and content amongst a crowd of users. One does not have to be technically qualified to install a CMS or to operate it. Each CMS is different from the other and may contain varied components and features which increase ease of use – such as a built-in forum, survey or polling facility, customization of the presentation with simple changes in the configuration etc.
Open source CMS is steadily growing in popularity and many organizations across the globe are opting for this system. There are two models of open source CMS: community-based open source systems and commercially-supported open source systems. The community based open source systems are the conventional open source CMS, which are available free and generated by the voluntary efforts of many people across the globe. While there could be an official coordinator of these systems, there is no owner, in legal terms.
With regard to commercially-supported open source systems, it is important to note that of late, many commercial enterprises have developed a number of products based on open source models. While one organization may offer professional back-end support for the product they are marketing, the source code itself may be freely available. The open source CMS products available in the market today is a mix of these two models, depending entirely on the directions adopted by the developers of the products.
Like any other commercially available business solution, open source CMS also has its strengths and weaknesses. To begin with, the code of open source CMS is free and any commercial support associated with the product is either equal or comparable to other products. On the other hand, commercial CMS could cost from a few thousand to a million dollars, which go up with you add the professional charges. The low rates for open source CMS make it a very viable option for small web sites, non-profit organizations and government offices. While the software might be free what you pay for are the services. These could include: customization costs of the CMS to match your specific business needs, integrating the open source CMS with your other existing systems, cost of developing user-specific templates, style sheets and publishing codes, providing training to authors and other end users, etc. Undoubtedly, having access to the code of the open source CMS provide matchless flexibility, allowing local developers to make all the desired changes to the system to meet specific business requirements. Open-source content management systems are generally developed with the use of popular open tools, such as PHP, Perl, Python, Java and Unix. Open platforms also reduces the cost of employing developers, since these are comparatively easier to develop and operate.
The popular open-source CMS solutions available in the market are supported by an active community of thousands of developers. This is in sharp contrast to the many commercial packages where communication occurs only between the user and the vendor. This eliminates the concept of knowledge sharing completely.