Flexible Content Management System


Report from the Open Source CMS Conference

Contributed by on Apr 04, 2002 - 10:36 PM

  • Cofax

  • Midgard

  • bitflux

  • OpenCMS

  • Wyona

  • Zope

  • AxKit

  • Cocoon

  • PostNuke

The two day conference started off with a keynote from

Charles Nesson, director of the Berkman Center for Internet

Society at Harvard Law School. Charles talked about the

importance of open source solutions for the future of

education. It was very encouraging to hear thus from one

of the premier experts on cyberspace law.

The conference proceeded with a quick succession of talks

about the various CMS that were present. Each had something

unique to contribute, and it was very interesting to hear

about other CMS straight from the programmers.

The CMS could be roughly grouped into categories:

  • traditional CMS (database-oriented, JAVA)

    Cofax, OpenCMS

  • XML-based CMS

    Wyona, bitflux, AxKit

  • Frameworks

    Midgard, Zope, Cocoon

  • Community CMS


Some systems, especially of the XML-based variety, showed

a high level of sophistication. Wyona went as far as to

do everything in XML, even the access control.

Generally most CMS placed a lot of emphasis on publishing

workflows, revision control etc. It became evident very

quickly that there is a lot more to the term CMS than

most news publishing scripts from Hotscripts or Sourceforge

can provide. Also, CMS means different things to different


The presentation that really blew the audience away was no

CMS though, it was a WYSIWYG editor. Yeah right. Another one.

Actually, after having seen the <a target=_top href="">demo of that particular

editor, a lot of mind bombs exploded in the audience.

Many could not believe their eyes, and you could witness

their thought processes as they pondered on the impact of this


The demo, which is for Internet Explorer 5.5 and up only

at the moment (Mozilla version to follow soon) relied on

XSLT, XML Schema and JavaScript. No ActiveX, no Java applets.

It was arguably the first killer app that really showed what

the value of XSLT on the client is. As Lon Boonen, the author,

said: "This is not another templating engine. Its the last one."

Sooner or later all CMS, PostNuke included, will have to

lay out their XML story. PostNuke has a foot in the door with

its XML-RPC system, but a lot of works remains to be done.

Another aspect of the conference was devoted to various frameworks

that allow to create custom CMS. The CMS market is so fragmented

that most sites run custom-built CMS. Some frameworks were very

elegant (Zope and Cocoon), while others focussed more on ease

of use, and leveraging PHP knowledge (Midgard).

PostNuke was the only representative from the Weblog / Community

CMS world. Unlike the more traditional CMS it places the emphasis

more on the community aspects of a site, and allows for easy

integration of functionality that goes beyond content management,

like shopping carts, chat, forums, galleries etc.

The <a target=_top href="">slides (1450K) from the PostNuke presentation should be available soon.

The best part of the conference were definitely the one on one

discussions with developers from various CMS systems. Over a

couple beers a lot of ideas were exchanged, and optimism about

future areas of collaboration led to the formation of

<a target=_top href="">, an organisation devoted to exchange of ideas

between Open Source CMS.

The conference was a success with more than a hundred attendees,

quite a few of them coming from big name CMS vendors. Some

preliminary contacts were established to work on a Java

standard for CMS, called the <a target=_top href="">Content Repository for Java API

Similar ideas where discussed among a group of Open Source CMS.

A very promising start for what looks to become a regular event.

See you in San Francisco for the next installment.