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posted by Tap on Aug 02, 2010

Content management systems (CMS) are easy to find, but it can be hard to choose just one to use for a particular site. I have used many CMSs and hope to help others decide which CMS is right for them. I'm also learning Python, so I'm including the best Python-powered systems.

PHP

The CMSs below are powered by PHP5. I recommend PHP over Python, because it's easier to understand and a lot more popular than Python.

Apostrophe

http://www.apostrophenow.com/

Apostrophe gives you a very straight-forward ability to edit pages while you look at them. You can add new blocks of content where you want them. The only problem I see is with adding media, because I couldn't find a way to align images to the left or right. Everything from images to video was centered and separated from text. Apostrophe might be good for a personal or portal site, but it would never be good for blogging. Bloggers should try Wordpress.

CuteNews

This only gives you a basic news-posting capability. It doesn't allow you to edit the content of your site, unless you're only posting news, and CuteNews doesn't support the features most news sites have. For example, most news sites have categories. CuteNews doesn't have categories or even a tagging system.

CuteNews does have built-in support for emoticons/smileys and comments, but it doesn't have much else. CuteNews is fairly easy to understand, but I don't recommend it due to security flaws.

Note: PHPNS is another popular news system. It's newer than CuteNews, and it seems to be a little more secure, but I think you would be better off using Wordpress.

Drupal

http://www.drupal.org
The CMS I use most is Drupal, so don't be surprised when I say I love it. It gives you a very secure community-oriented database-driven layout out-of-the-box, however, it isn't very useful for personal sites, and you are required to know a lot about the system to make a decent theme. While the learning curve is steep, I think it's worth checking out.

Note: GetLives is a custom-coded Drupal 6 site.

Pixie

http://www.getpixie.co.uk

Pixie uses TinyMCE for editing pages in a WYSIWYG environment. Pixie integrates everything you need for many different kinds of sites without being a huge download, and it looks good to boot!

I have not used Pixie, but the demo site looks sharp. I highly recommend trying it. If you don't like it, just try something else. If your long term goal is to build a community-driven site, Pixie might not work for your needs.

Pulse

http://pulsecms.com

Pulse uses CKEditor for everything. I like CKEditor, but it's not a CMS, it's a WYSIWYG HTML editor. The problem with using CKEditor and nothing else is you can't have anything dynamic. Pulse is like using Drupal with CKEditor module and disabling all the neat features. I didn't put a lot of time into Pulse, so I might be missing some details, but I recommend staying away from this system.

Symphony

http://symphony-cms.com
This requires XSLT, which is out-of-the-norm for cheap hosting, but I know Dreamhost supports it. I messed with Symphony but never managed to make anything with it. The admin section is great, and I love the default theme, but making your own theme and adding features seems incredibly complex. If you're looking for an alternative to Wordpress, this may very well be your tool, but again, it has some major headaches.

Symphony does not have a big community, so the amount of extensions is low. The extensions it has are, for the most part, incomplete, but the core system has enough to make a basic blog site. In any case, this is another CMS that just disappointed me. It has great potential, so I'm going to check on it in about a year.

Wordpress

http://wordpress.org

This is the most popular CMS for personal sites. It is one of the easiest to use. It has add-on functionality for comics, forums and many other features, but I prefer using Drupal for most sites. The biggest advantage to Wordpress is its auto-update page, which allows a complete novice to keep his site up-to-date with ease. I recommend Wordpress for blogs because that's what Wordpress is meant for.

Alert: Wordpress is the target of a lot of security threats.

Note: Wordpress has everything you need for a blog or news site, but it is not meant for much else. I strongly recommend Drupal for any other type of site.

Python

The CMSs below use Python instead of PHP. I'm more comfortable with PHP, but I have used Python, and it's a valid method to create sites. I honestly think PHP is easier to learn.

Django

http://www.djangoproject.com
I just started using Django for learning purposes. I like how the admin tools are created automatically. This means less work for the site designer. The design tools are next to nothing, however, so I don't think as highly of Django as Drupal. Django is more of a barebones framework and doesn't do anything for you. Everything has to be set up through code. This meant a major learning curve for me.

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