Open Source

Five free CMS tools for do-it-yourself Web site builders

When it comes to content management systems, you have a number of good options. Here are five powerful -- and free -- CMS tools worth checking out.

Even if you don't have the budget to hire a professional Web design staff, you can still build a great-looking site yourself. The following list introduces several feature-packed CMS tools that can help you get your Web site up and running in no time. All the tools are available on Linux, Windows, and OS X platforms -- and all of them are free.

Note: This list is based on an entry in our DIY IT Guy blog.

1: Drupal

Drupal is an open source content management system that's driven by MySQL. It can do just about anything required for your company Web site. It's one of my favorite tools for building database-driven, dynamic Web sites. Drupal has a huge repository of modules and offers additional functionality beyond content management, including the ability to create your online e-commerce presence and numerous social networking functions and features. Of all the CMSes I have tried, Drupal is one of the easiest to install and manage.

2: Joomla!

Joomla! is a dynamic, open source CMS that focuses on power and features. Like Drupal, it has a large repository of add-ons that greatly extend the functionality of a Joomla!-powered site. Even with its near-overkill feature list, it still manages to maintain a fairly simple installation process. The one catch with Joomla! (as with any of the more complex user-management tools) is that it requires careful consideration when dealing with permissions.

3: XOOPS

eXtensible Object Oriented Portal System (XOOPS) is similar to Drupal and Joomla! in many ways. It is a database-driven CMS that is powerful, extendable, easy to install and administer, and themeable. However, XOOPS is different in that it offers a great templating system and the ability to import entire HTML-based sites. XOOPS has a built-in backup system and an outstanding built-in email notification system. It's the number one CMS listed on SourceForge and is recognized by the Real Story Group (formerly CMS Watch).

4: WebsiteBaker

WebsiteBaker is less well known than the preceding tools, but it doesn't fall far behind them in terms of usability, functionality, and power. And WebsiteBaker offers one attractive option that the other tools do not: a portable edition. This edition, powered by Server2Go, lets you test and run a WebsiteBaker installation on the local machine from a USB drive. You can get to the heart of the portable version by extracting the contents of the .exe file and navigating into htdocs to see the .php and .css files used by WebsiteBaker Portable. WebsiteBaker really excels with its easy installation.

5: Concrete5

Concrete5 is a CMS tool built for marketing, which makes it perfect for small companies with little to no budget for a marketing-based Web presence. It also has plenty of modules and themes to extend your site even further. Out of the box, a Concrete5 site is light-years beyond what other CMS tools offer. Concrete5 might be the future of the CMS.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

18 comments
bwdsb
bwdsb

Very similiar to Drupal...we went from Drupal to Plone.

jlgordon
jlgordon

I really like Wordpress. I used it with a purchased template for my non-profit site (www.progresstools.org) and it saved me lots of time and makes maintenance easy. For building complex web applications with workflow in a declarative manner I use Oracle Application Express.

swelch
swelch

Dotnetnuke is the best. HUGE community and support. Thousands of modules and skins.

TraderStf
TraderStf

Take a look at impresspages.org, you will find a jewel ! WYSIWYG, drag-and-drop, stable, easy to use, integrated multilingual support, html editor if needed, valid html and css, SEO support, site map, admins and users management, plugins (newsletter, blog, news, product catalog, form, catalog, comments,...) what else... very very stable! And a great and fast support ! Can also be installed on MAMP on your computer. I'm amazed everyday I'm using it and I tried a lot of different programs, CMS, paying tools... That's why I write these reviews. I'm not linked to the IP team. That's really the next century web sites CMS!

www.indigotea.com
www.indigotea.com

The php-based CMS's get a lot of attention because of the low barrier-to-entry in terms of cost, and skills required to implement at the basic level. It's just as interesting to see that the top-ranked app on the Windows Web App Gallery (http://www.microsoft.com/web/gallery/?sorting=highestrated) is mojoPortal, a .Net-based (Asp.Net/C#/MSSQL/jQuery stack) content management system that's a sleeper in the open-source CMS world. It's easy to install, extensible, and very well-supported by its community.

rab
rab

We heartily recommend CMS Made Simple - powerful, flexible and, most important, really easy to use!

kpbarry
kpbarry

http://www.cmsmatrix.org/ lists like 1202 CMS apps, 374 of which have an open source license (click the search button to find the filter). That is a lot of choices. Evaluating even a significant number of them to find out which one is best for your project is a daunting task. I used Plone 3 for a project four years ago and was happy with it. At the time it was one of the most mature and impressive open source CMS apps out there, and I preferred something Python based. If I had a new project that needed a CMS, I'd probably start from scratch and see what out there now. I'd certainly look at Plone 4. Someone is currently in the process of migrating that previous site to Drupal, though. He has more of a comfort level with Drupal and he likes the option of having it hosted instead of having to maintain a server (which I still have to do for him). There are a lot of good hosting options for Drupal and that is a selling point for him. CMS Matrix does have a rating sysem. It looks like synType CMS is winning many categories right now. contrete5 gets the "Ease of Use" award. I wish they showed all of the rankings for each category and include the number of votes. If there aren't many voters, and all of the fans of synType CMS vote, then those rankings don't mean much. This would be a good place to post information to help people narrow down their choices for open source CMS tools.

rsantuci
rsantuci

It's open source and you can use it at no cost, or you can buy the Enterprise or Professional if you want other added features and technical support. And the DotNetNuke community is deep and diversified when it comes to knowledge of the product.

aamgm
aamgm

And what happened to Umbraco?

TonyFlanigan
TonyFlanigan

Gee... you forgot WordPress. Definitions of what a CMS is or isn't are no longer valid, because with just a little know-how, WordPress can do it all, quickly, and painlessly. At some point in time I have tried all the CMS's listed in the article, but ultimately, it boils down to the user, and this is where K-I-S-S is so very important. Giving a client a CMS that is beyond their "IT" skill-set is shooting yourself in the foot. For personal use? Use a CMS that will challenge your ability.

JustinF
JustinF

ocPortal Pros: Incredible feature set, well supported, active community, paid support available. Cons: Looks old, steep & complex learning curve, updated too often, patching system can be a bit dodgy, lack of import scripts into other packages. Wiccle: Pros: Looks great, incredible feature set, good admin backend. Cons: Kind of complex to set up something simple like a new forum, theming is complex, not much of a user base from what I could see. Oxwall: Pros: Quick & easy to set up, lightweight, simple to use, loads of features, highly customisable, great admin interface, good community support, lots of plugins. Cons: It's a little too simple sometimes, permissions are very blocky & hard to fine tune.

TraderStf
TraderStf

Take a look at www.impresspages.org, you will see how simple and powerful.

theSuda
theSuda

I absolutely agree. Wordpress is the simplest of them all.

one9ooh6
one9ooh6

Can you create your own template with ImpressPages? What's the benefits versus WordPress and Drupal?

lisa_work_aws
lisa_work_aws

WordPress is WAY easier for user to use for development and users. I've used Joomla, Drupal and WordPress. Joomla and Drupal seem (needlessly IMHO) complicated. Too much going on. WordPress pretty much has anything you want, including templates and support. WordPress has matured in the last couple of years moving beyond a 'blog' and more to 'website'. I'm not sure how strong it is for mult-users, log-ins etc. I do know for users, I tell them 'If you can run MS Word and send an email, you'll be ok with WordPress.' A quick tutorial, explain the media feature, then I never hear from them again. Nice!

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