Posts Tagged ‘web-content-management’

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the best CMS of all? We may not have enchanted mirrors to tell us what the deal is, but Idealware has done nonprofits the favor of compiling an updated report that compares four major Content Management Systems and assesses their different strengths and weaknesses. The report, an update of the popular report that came out in 2009, takes into account the latest version of each of the tools. Even if you’re not with a nonprofit, this is likely one of the best sources of information comparing these tools!

IdealWare uses fourteen criteria to evaluate Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and Plone. Each system had its strengths and weaknesses but we were pleased to see that the CMS that we most often use, Plone, came out on top in a number of ways. The report noted that Plone was the CMS of choice for many major newspapers and large businesses. When measured against WordPress, Drupal and Joomla “Plone’s functionality is as strong, or stronger, than the other three systems in every area we reviewed except for one.” Go Plone! Below is a closer look at some of the strengths, and points of improvement for Plone

Securityplone logo
One aspect of Plone that is operating very competitively is website security. The report found that Plone’s architecture made it difficult for security issues to present themselves through add-ons or themes. There are also generally few vulnerabilities and errors. Plone beats out the rest hands down.

Accessibility and SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) determines how highly ranked your website is for specific keywords and Plone has several features built in that enhance how highly ranked a website is. Things like having an automatic header page and being prompted to use alt-tags on images is standard SEO practice that someone who’s not tech savvy could implement seamlessly. Plone also automatically populates metadata fields from the content of a page.

Ease of Use for Content Managers
While Plone can be used for complex websites, it excells as being easy to use in terms of the interface for managing the content. It is easy for anyone to keep their site updated with editing tools that are in the same place that you view the content, as opposed to a backend area. The report notes how intuitive Plone’s dashboard is, and how simple it is to perform cornerstone tasks in website management like adding pages and editing text. Plone was one of the stronger CMS in making it easy for users to achieve their daily tasks.

So what didn’t Plone do so great in?
Plone is a complex system built on a different architecture than the other systems compared (a main factor in why it is more secure!). As a result, it is a little more challenging to install and set-up without the expertise of consultants who know the system and tools. Even so, Plone has made huge improvements in the last two years to provide great ease of installation experience. While we are confident that tech-savvy self-starters can figure it out, ifPeople is also happy to do the heavy lifting when it comes to taming the technology for your use! Contact us if we can help you evaluate Plone for your website or sign up for one of our monthly Plone demos (free webinar). The ease, organization, and security your website will get will be well worth it.

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On September 1st, the latest version of Plone was released and a lot of innovation from this leading Content Management System is now available to new and existing Plone users! Plone 4 is more intuitive, more visually appealing, and faster. We’re so excited about this new version that we’ve been buried in working on it and launching new sites (check out the latest launch: SEEC) to get the news out for the last six week! Below are some of the key upgrades on Plone 4 that you may like:

ploneNew Look: Plone4 has a new template included when it is installed that is sleek, minimalist, and functional. After nine years of using a staple design, Plone 4 uses a modern table-less formatting and simplified CSS.

Performance Improvement: Plone 4 has a number of improvements that help it run fasterand more efficiently. It’s twice as fast as Plone 3 representing accelerating advances in performance for the platform (while many other systems are getting slower and more complex!). Plone 4’s capacity  to handle very large files has improved drastically since all file data is now stored on the file system rather than in the database. This enhances the ability of Plone to scale to handle huge content repositories out of the box!

Intuitive Visual Editing: The HTML editor in Plone 4 has been changed to a Tiny MCE which offers Plone users more ease and flexibility in design. It offers much stronger support of html tables and better support for embedded flash content. This visual editor is also widely used in other systems outside of Plone as well, meaning that it will have greater support and improvements over time. Overall Plone 4 provides better tools for creating the site you want with less of a headache.

Improved user management: Plone 4 has also streamlined the process of creating and managing users for your website. It is faster to create new users and place them in groups.

User Experience Improvements: You’ll notice several improvements in the way Plone leverages AJAX technologies in this version. The result is fewer page loads necessary to use and manage a website. Navigating to the back end administrative area of the website has been improved. Even small changes like allowing users to sign in with their email or username lend themselves to an improved user experience.

Other things we are excited about from this release:

  • Easy upgrading from Plone 3!
  • New version of the User’s Guide to Plone book!
  • The XDV templating tools that make it easy for designers to use html and css to create custom look and feel for Plone sites!

Plone 4 is a system that surpasses other CMS’s – open source and proprietary options – in terms of usability, security, community, and scalability. This latest release represents a lot of great work by the community and we congratulate and thank all those who have contributed to Plone 4!

If you’re interested to learn more about Plone, we invite you to:

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The report aims to help nonprofits make decisions on open source CMSs, buidealware-cms-comparisont would be useful to anyone evaluating a content management system. Idealware, who provides objective information on software for nonprofits, has released a new version of its report comparing Plone, Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. This report is more detailed than ever and encompasses 60+ pages of content and contains a consultant directory to help nonprofits find service providers. We at ifPeople work in the Plone CMS though also serve clients with consulting that does not depend on the platform being used.

Get the report:

Comparing Open Source Content Management Systems: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Plone

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You can now register online for the upcoming trainings from ifPeople at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. Those trainings include:

You can get to the registration form from any of those linked pages (click on the “more info” link.

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I occasionally trawl the free Plone themes (skins, templates, etc) to see what kind of options are available for Plone. Historically this has been a weakness of Plone relative to other open source Content Management Systems (CMS), like Joomla. To my surprise, the Plone community has come a long way! A big contribution to this was the OOTB (Out of the Box) Sprint; though I couldn’t find the results of that process very easily in their workspace, I recognized many of them as I looked through repositories.

I was able to grab a paster-based buildout and within about 15 minutes (not counting operator error time!) have a site running on my computer with 8 free skins working, thanks to the distribution convention of “eggs” (and PyPi). I then decided to press my luck and add themes that only had downloadable “tarballs” (zipped files). That didn’t go so well…so I went back to looking for eggs, this time at the source: the Python Package Index (PyPi). I found a few more options there, but the description info is lousy, for what I hope to find anyway, and no screenshots.

The slowest part of the process has been finding information.When I started this, I went to plone.org first, which was in the process of being upgraded and the product filter/search was broken, meaning I couldn’t even filter the categories to get Themes. That got better, and then fixed, but that didn’t make it tremendously easy to find the info. I realized part way through searching that another option was contentmanagementsoftware.info , which I soon turned to as an initial reference for themes as it occassionally pulled in screenshots (whereas Plone.org was more clicks and less often actually had a screenshot). About 1/4 of the products I looked at on Plone.org had bad links (some even with broken link to the download). Webcoutureir and Uberon.no now no longer exist, the later seems to have lost the hosted files for good.

Suggestions to theme product authors:

  1. Add a screenshot to your product pages (note that this is different than the release page).
  2. Include info about your egg on your product page (otherwise someone looking at plone.org thinks you just have a tarball).
  3. Make an uninstall profile for your theme, so when someone wants to take it out of the site, it happens nicely. See here. Also nice if the default theme is set back after the uninstall happens (RobZoneNet says he will be writing on some more best practices of theming shortly, including this).

Some highlights of the themes:

As I mentioned, there a fair bit of broken links out there, so here’s a summary of what I got working easily from eggs (with links to screenshots, if available):

Several were encountered with a simple search for “themes” on PyPi.

I was able to only get a few working via tarballs (mostly due to broken links or non-working products). Those included:

Other suggestions:

  • Plone.org/products needs a way to either “flag” a product (report a problem, broken, etc) or comment on it so we can keep bad info out of the public’s way.
  • Encourage all developers of products to add their code into a public repository, so even if their company changes in some way, the code remains available. This also means less systems maintenance burden for the company/developer.
  • Make PloneSoftwareCenter less of a pain to use. Harito commented in her product that she wasn’t actually releasing it there because it was too cumbersome. Many developers seem to have not been clear on how to get a screenshot onto the product page (vs the release page), which makes it less obvious/findable (though it also appears that the recent upgrade of plone.org may have broken screenshots). Due to this, and perhaps general lack of perceived value from using the Plone.org for product releasing, PyPi seems to have become a more complete repository of products than plone.org/products. This detracts from the overall value of Plone.org’s product collections since it now means users have to do more laborious searching to find products.

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Targeted at nonprofit organizations, Idealware is planning a new research report comparing the open source content management systems (CMS) Plone, Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress.Idealware produced a similar report in 2006 entitled “Comparing Open Source CMSs: Drupal, Joomla, and Plone“. The new report will update the review of each system and also include WordPress in the evaluation.

According to the Idealware site:

This Open Source CMSs for Nonprofits report will apply rigorous qualitative research techniques to understand the features that are important to nonprofits in Content Management Systems, and will include a detailed, feature by feature comparison of WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Plone systems, and an easy-to-understand analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each platform for typical nonprofit needs. This report is scheduled for a February 28th 2009 launch date..

Keep an eye on idealware.org for more.

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We’re excited to see our local trainings and webinar series shaping up quickly in 2009! Our first training at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits in December was a big hit and we were asked to do six more, each on a new topic. We thought that was plenty for the year…but they are all scheduled between now and June! The new lineup includes Social Media, a primary theme for GCN, which we will cover in an intro training and a training to create marketing plan. Other trainings include online fundraising and Open Source Content Management. We get started with 2 in February – hope you can join us! Have a look out our training lineup in the Learn section of our site.

If you have any suggestions for trainings or topics, please feel free to use the comments section here.

RSVP info for the GCN courses is forthcoming. You can sign up for ifPeople’s monthly newsletter to receive updates when it is available.

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I attended my first Atlanta Python user group’s meeting (PyAtl) this month (see the meeting announcement). I have a regular conflict on Thursday evenings (soccer:), but made this one to give a talk on Plone. Our local Atlanta Plone users group has merged with PyAtl and serves as a Special Interest Group now.

Brandon Rhodes opened the session with a discussion of search trends, using Google Trends, and left us with a question: why isn’t Python and Plone going up in the trend lines? That framed my talk nicely, as I got to share my enthusiasm for Plone, which I believe if more people knew about certainly would be trending up! I gave a talk to help those there learn more about Plone, an intro and answering some questions about why people choose Plone. To my surprise, several people there had prior Plone experience, but not recent work. So it was like re-chosing Plone…they recalled things like dtml and lots of through-the-web editing and other pain, so I think I played the role of dusting off the memories and filling in some details about where Plone has gotten to now. In particular, the fact that it is easy to install, uses extensive Zope 3 and the community has adopted best practices in development widely, that there is lots of documentation (and books), and that the community rocks!

I didn’t do any demos or code stuff, just introducing why we should care about Plone…hopefully that will be the subject of our future contributions at PyAtl meetings!

The presentation videos are now up on the PyAtl site, though the sound is quite low. I will be posting my slides as soon as I get a chance to clean them up a bit…but they were based heavily on Jon Stahl’s slides, the World Plone Day slides, and bits and pieces from Roberto Allende and Nate Aune’s presentations too :). See Plone Evangelist hq for more of those.

Also, as part of our merger to into PyAtl, note that we now have domains atlantaplone.com and atlantaplone.net working! (please note that the .org address has been lost to domain hell).

My first meeting certainly was fun (and I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Holden’s talk on Python community…more on that in a later post), so I hope to be back soon!

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As an ongoing recognition of the importance of Plone in the web content management space, E Content magazine highlighted Plone in the Content Management category in the list of the 100 most influential companies in the digital content industry!

Congrats to the Plone community and all the contributors who make Plone possible! If you haven’t met Plone yet, you can get to know one of the leading content management systems that is free, open source, and supported by a vibrant community at plone.org

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This year has gotten off to a great start. Go 2009! I just realized we have 3 Plone events going on this month:

  • Reaching Website Nirvana with Plone, at Atlanta Plone. A warmup for the talk the next night at PyAtl, but with a slightly more Plonista crowd A talk that has been loosely brainstormed with Jon Stahl, and will be in extremely condensed version here…
  • “Why Choose Plone”, at PyAtl, the Atlanta Python group. Will briefly touch on the “why” (who uses it, why is it cool), the what (features) and the how (getting started, what to expect, where are the goods). This is part of kicking off the Plone presence at PyAtl for the year and will be done in tag-team with Josh Kidd of ifPeople.
  • Plone content management refresher, a webinar we are giving for our clients to give them a chance to brush up those content management skills for the new year.

That’s a lot of Plone in a month! Speaking of Plone…did you see that World Plone Day 2009 is already in the works? Mark your calendars for April 22, 2009. Perhaps since it’s also Earth Day in the US, we can drink green beer while Ploning?

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