Three CMS models to analyze

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Three CMS models to analyze Powered By Docstoc
                          Google Summer of Code 2007
                                 Corey Shaffer
                           Organization : WordPress
                             Mentor : Brian Layman
Project : Helping create a better content management structure for a popular online utility


The purpose of this document is to describe three of the top current content management systems
(CMS) available today. The exact definition of a high quality CMS will be outlined and
subsequently used to critique the CMS applications. The information presented will be used as a
means to improve the CMS functionality for the online site WordPress.


Content management systems (CMS), WordPress, Classification Scheme, Drupal, Joomla!,,, archiving, taxonomy display, reporting


          A content management system assists users in organizing and controlling their resources.
The main reason to use a CMS application is to improve the organization of content. A quality
CMS application can provide numerous benefits to an individual and/or company ranging from
increased growth capacity to increased site flexibility.
          WordPress, an online blogging site, is looking to improve its CMS features in an attempt to
offer its users a more efficient way to organize and manage their content. Improvements made to
the CMS features of WordPress would create a much better content control structure for the
popular site
          In order to improve and upgrade the CMS of WordPress, research must be done to
determine exactly what makes a CMS application successful. What features are offered that
present the user with the most gain in terms of the management of their information? To do this, a
few of the top available CMS applications will be analyzed in an attempt to decipher what features
they offer that greatly increase the ability for users to control their content.

1A. What is a quality CMS?

        Before attempting to qualitatively analyze current CMS applications, an exact definition of
what a quality CMS actually is needs to be concretely defined. What tools and features are
necessities in the development of a CMS? What principles must a CMS exhibit in order to be
labeled as high quality? These questions must be answered before any CMS applications are
selected to be critiqued and used to enhance the CMS functionality of WordPress.

a. Classification Scheme

         There are many different contributing factors to the overall quality of a CMS. Since
requirements necessary for a CMS are so varied, a specific classification scheme was obtained
that has worked nicely to group CMS requirements into specific groups depending on their
function. The classification scheme, which spans from initially creating the content to delivering the
content to the users, is as follows:

                Content creation
                Content management

                 Publishing
                 Presentation
                 Contract and Business

This scheme spans the entire life cycle of a content management application. For purposes of this
study, a few specific factors from each portion of the classification scheme that deal most
comparably to the goal of bettering WordPress as a CMS will be selected and used as the critique
and analysis material for any observed CMS. Let it be known that these are not the sole factors
required for creating a complete CMS, but they are the most relevant to the task of improving the
CMS functionality of WordPress.

1. Content Creation

         Content creation is the functionality required by the users of the CMS. It is the portion of
the classification scheme that deals specifically with usability. Factors include integrated authoring
environment, powerful linking, and ease and efficiency of use. An integrated authoring
environment ensures authors have a full range of access to all of the tools and features offered by
the CMS. A CMS exhibiting this functionality would present a powerful development environment
to its users. This correlates directly with the ease and efficiency of use of the CMS. No matter the
number of features offered by the CMS, if it is not easy to use and navigate, it will not be a
success. The CMS also needs to exhibit powerful linking ability, which means cross-links created
between pages by the user must be stable against restructuring.

2. Content Management

         Good content management stands at the core of a CMS. A CMS solution must include
some form of central repository or managing center that offers a wide range of tools for users to
work with their content. Some of the factors that will be observed for the purposes of this analysis
are reporting and versioning control and authoring. For reporting, it is imperative that the CMS
provide an extensive range of statistics and reports to its users. A nice addition to this requirement
is the ability to allow the user to enable what specific reports they receive. Versioning control and
authoring provides the user with the ability to store, backup, and manage their content. A good
CMS will allow the user strict accountability of their content.

3. Publishing

          For published pages of the authors, it is imperative that the CMS collect usage statistics.
This will delineate what are the most popular entities that the user possesses. It grants the user
the ability to place a value on their assets. The CMS must also be able to support multiple formats
such as PDF.

4. Presentation

        The presentation of a CMS must be usable, quick, and be able to be navigated effectively.
The topic of usability includes, but is not limited to ease of use, efficiency, easy reversal of actions,
and quality feedback. The CMS must look good, but be easy to understand and navigate. It

should present the user with multiple methods of tracing and reversing their movement throughout
the CMS.

4. Contract and Business

         Business requirements must also be met when developing a CMS. For the purposes of
this project, the business requirements are being developed as a response to this document.
Therefore this region of the classification scheme is unable to properly be identified at this time in
the project cycle.

b. Classification Scheme Conclusion

        The CMS models that are examined for purposes of improving WordPress will be critiqued
and graded based on how well they exhibit the requirements detailed in each of the sections
above. If any of the CMS models contain features that are very efficient for solving one of the
above requirements, that feature will be noted and possibly prototyped to be included in the next
development cycle for WordPress.


2A. Introduction

        Drupal was selected based on a three-month trial run of the application. After the trial, it
was determined that Drupal could very useful in the attempt to improve WordPress as a CMS.
Drupal was noted among many websites that ranked the top open-source CMS applications
available today.

a. Drupal Mission Statement

    “Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual or a community of users to easily
    publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. Tens of thousands of
    people and organizations have used Drupal to power scores of different web sites”

2B. Overview

         Drupal has several features that tie nicely into the classification scheme depicted earlier in
this document. Drupal is equipped with a role based permission system, which allows users to fine
tune personal configuration settings. Users can bookmark important or favorite pages in their
content as well as review, modify, or rearrange any existing content they currently possess. The
taxonomy display [discussed further in section 2B] is a particularly useful tool for users. Drupal
also featured an interesting version control system, which allows the user to track content updates
based on who changed it, what was changed, what time it was changed, etc. Authors can also opt
to view previous versions of the content by way of a “roll-back” feature. A poll module lets users
create simple polls. Ask a question, provide possible answers, and let your users vote. Drupal then
keeps a running tally of the results.

2C. Analysis - Positives

         Drupal features a wonderful integrated authoring environment that allows the user to
control their content easily and effectively. The Drupal lay-out can be manipulated into several
different forms, but no matter the colors presenting the application, the basis of Drupal is simplicity.
During the trial use of Drupal, it exhibited powerful linking capabilities and great ease of navigation.
As you move further into content, there are several ways to retrace your steps or to see quickly
where you stand amongst the tree of information you are navigating. For example, take a look at
the following screenshot.

                    FIGURE 2.1

Once you click on a link to view a new content source, your steps are traced on top of the screen
[see red box], giving you an idea as to where you stand. In this example, we will click on level
design as denoted by the blue box surrounding the link on the left side in the above picture.

                  FIGURE 2.2

The red box now contains “home”, which was your previous location. If you click on “testt” in the
middle of the screen, the red box would say home > level design. Drupal presents you with a
return feature to your previous locations as you delve further and further into your site. This is a
great feature that is subtle, but extremely useful.
         Also, as listed in section 2A Overview of Drupal, the versioning control and poll features
were both excellent modules that improve Drupal as a CMS.

2D. Analysis – Negatives

        From what was observed, Drupal seemed to be a bit lacking in the department of
reporting. User actions could be followed, but there were not too many pure number statistics
recorded. Items such as page views, specific content views, and such were not able to be

2E. Conclusion

         Drupal’s simplicity presents a perfect mentor for WordPress to model after. Although
lacking in a few aspects denoted in the classification scheme defined in section 1, Drupal’s ease
and efficiency more than make up for any flaws it reveals.
         The analysis of Drupal resulted in one excellent idea to prototype into WordPress
(taxonomy display) and also provided ideas based on what Drupal did not contain, such as high
quality reporting (content views, etc).


3A. Introduction

        Joomla! is an award-winning CMS that will help you build websites and other powerful
online applications. Joomla! promotes itself as being a simple application that is powerful enough
to manage every aspect of a website, from adding content and images to updating a product
catalog or taking online reservations.

a. Joomla! Mission Statement

        “Joomla! is one of the most powerful Open Source Content Management Systems on the
        planet. It is used all over the world for everything from simple websites to complex
        corporate applications. Joomla! is easy to install, simple to manage, and reliable.”

3B. Overview

           Joomla! contains several features that exhibit the characteristics discussed in the
classification scheme detailed in section 1. Online users referred prospective patrons to Joomla!
more than any other open-source CMS application available. Joomla! is easily extendable and has
an amazing graphical interface that allows users to control their content in a quick and efficient
manner. It presents an easy-to-navigate interface for users of the site, but the strength of Joomla!
lies in its Joomla! Administrator feature. Joomla! Administrator allows authors to browse a variety
of tools via a control panel. Each item in the control panel is supported with a visual depiction.

Each item leads to a different page that reports statistics to the author. It is a quick and interactive
way to view what and where content is spread out. This control panel is the perfect model for
statistic reporting and quick content summarization.

3C. Analysis – Positives

      The Joomla! Administrator feature is the best method for statistic reporting and content
summarization that was found during this analysis.


The control panel is an extremely effective way of reporting statistics. Take a look at the box
highlighted in green on the right side of Figure 3.1. This box provides quick-click reporting to the
author. You can see how many items are included in your different menu options as well as the
latest posted items. Authors can view stats showing most popular pages as well as currently
logged-in users. The blue highlighted box on the left side of the screen leads you to more in-depth
summaries for each manager tool. Media manager contains all of your media on the site and
shows where it is located. Content items manager lists all of your content and provides a short
summary of its current functionality.


An author can view the content title and quickly see whether or not it is published, when it was
created, who created it, and where it is located. Joomla! Administrator is very in-depth, yet very

3D. Analysis – Negatives

         Joomla! did not seem to be as easy to work with as Drupal was during the test trials. The
development of the interface seemed to be more for the tech-savvy mind than the common
individual. It seemed as though you could perform a variety of tasks, but it was not overly easy to
figure out how to work with Joomla!.

3E. Conclusion

         Researching Joomla! after Drupal was the perfect method for critiquing these applications.
The overall simplicity of the Drupal engine showed as Joomla! was more difficult to use and
navigate through. However, where Drupal was lacking [reporting], Joomla! more than made up for
in the form of the Joomla! Administrator. The Joomla! Administrator would be a wonderful addition
to any CMS, however, it would need to be refined and brought down a notch so that the common
individual could successfully utilize all it has to offer.


4A. Introduction

          The initial research obtained from analyzing Drupal and Joomla! provided great insight into
quality open source CMS applications. When trying to find a third CMS to analyze, none were
surfacing that contained anything that separated them from the two applications already observed.
After trying a few systems such as and, there was nothing witnessed that
would ultimately help to improve WordPress as a CMS. After this realization, a few different up-
and-coming information management websites that had been come across were revisited to see if
they had anything to offer to increase the CMS functionality of WordPress.

4B. Analysis of

a. Mission Statement of

    “37signals blends an absolutely beautiful and intuitive interface with pertinent functionality...
    Everything you used to scribble down on sheets of paper can be replaced by Backpack's
    functionality, combining weblogging, to-do lists, and calendars all into one simple-to-use
    interface. ”

b. Overview of the Calendar Tool
 features a wonderful interactive calendar that could contribute to a CMS
application. The calendar organizes events into their specified days in a custom format defined by
the user. Users can set-up automatic e-mail reminders to be sent at a specific time before an
event occurs as well as delineate different tasks in a color-coded scheme on the calendar.

                   FIGURE 4.1

Adding events to the calendar is very simple as an “add an event” tool sits directly to the right of
the calendar itself.

c. Conclusion

        Many users of the popular site spoke highly of the interactive calendar feature that promotes. The feature was very useful and could be tweaked to serve users of a
CMS. A calendar feature similar to the one shown could be created and could automatically store
content posting dates for the user. This would help to resolve versioning conflicts as a quick
glance at the calendar would show post dates and titles of content created. Space permitting, the
“add an event” feature could also be given to the user so that they could use the calendar as a
means of organizing not only their content, but themselves as well.

4C. Analysis of

a. Overview of Archiving Scheme features a very useful archiving system that is similar to the one WordPress
already has implemented, but it branches into several leafs that make it a little easier to distinguish
where information is.

          FIGURE 4.2

Figure 4.2 provides a visual of a blog. Notice the section highlighted in red on the
right side of the screen. The archive branches from year to month to post. The user can choose to
leave the tree tabs opened or they can close them if they choose to do so. WordPress currently
presents a link to each month that contains posts. When you click on the month, you are
redirected to a new page that shows your posts for that month.

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b. Conclusion

           This current archiving system of WordPress can be updated to branch like’s
to allow the user to quickly sort their information and get to the post they desire to view. Simple
little re-designs such as this are very easy to do, but they can result in exponential gains in the
area of ease of use and efficiency for a website.


         This document is the first step in attempting to improve the CMS functionality of
WordPress. Our task now has a clear cut definition of what is considered a high quality CMS
application and has reviews of several current systems that provide insight into how WordPress
can become a better CMS. Each analysis resulted in an idea that could possibly be implemented
into WordPress. From the simplicity of use of Drupal to the intelligent statistic reporting of the
Joomla! Administrator feature, each analysis also provided a prime example of how to perfect
certain aspects of the classification scheme noted in section 1. The analysis of the lesser known
information management sites such as and also proved to be very
useful. contains a simple archiving system that serves as an upgrade over
WordPress’s current means of presenting archived content. As a result of the study of, the other simple features of WordPress will be analyzed to make sure they are
implemented and presented in a way that promotes ease and efficiency of use.

5A. Where to go from here?

          The next step in the attempt to improve WordPress as a CMS will be to further review the
features noted in this document that could possibly be prototyped to be added to WordPress. They
will be analyzed to make sure the time/cost does not outweigh the value of the features to be
added. Also, a more in-depth study will be evaluated to ensure the current features of WordPress
meet the ease and efficiency of use standards noted in this document. If any features could be
improved upon, they will be noted and a suggested enhancement will be discussed in detail. When
this next step is completed, WordPress will have the final list of features to be prototyped as well as
a list of upgrades, if any, that need to be made to current tools offered by the system.

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