Content Management System
Content Management Systems
A Content Management System (CMS) is a system used to organize and facilitate creation and maintenance of documents and other content (in this case for a web site). They are designed to allow many people to directly contribute to the process. Contributors sign on to authenticate and their activities are both assisted and restricted by the system. To manage this, a CMS isolates the actions and effects of content creation and maintenance from other elements (layouts, styles, menus, etc.).
Both Wiki's such as this and blogging sites use Content Management Systems. When a CMS is used for Church management, it is often referred to as a Church Management System, Church Management Software, or Church Ministry Software and often abbreviated as ChMS.
A more comprehensive description and additional details can be found at Wikipedia. and Church Management Software
Advantages of a CMS website:
- content can be added and maintained without "webmaster" skills
- many people can contribute or collaborate using just their web browser
- limits on what contributors can and can't do can be precisely defined
- site layout, style and menus are unaffected during content editing work
- content is unaffected during layout, style and menu modifications
- standards and changes for layout, style and menus are applied universally
- site mapping, indexing, site search and menu generation is automatic
- web feed (RSS) syndication of content is usually automatic
- media (images, audio, video, etc) presentation and management is easier to implement
- member only features are easier to implement
- member participation features are easier to implement
- better for sites with many frequent changes, community and media features
Disadvantages of a CMS website:
- can be more work to set up for a simple site
- fine tuning the look of individual pages and elements is difficult and limited
- CMS systems have their own menus and logic which users must understand
- one or more people must act to administer the site and any other users
- requires specific software to be present or added to the web server
- your site will depend on the continuing availability and suitability of that specific software
- CMS software will require occasional security maintenance and updating
- usually requires some setup and configuration of a database on the web server
- places greater processing demands on the web server
- backup and recovery is more complicated when a database is involved
- customization requires more specialized and less common skills
- poor for relatively static sites with few changes and a single maintainer
Installing: - Linux based web hosting services often offer a feature that can install a selection of several CMS with the click of a link or icon. Example services available through web host control panels include: Fantastico (cPanel), Installatron (cPanel, Plesk), 4psa (Plesk), CP Skins (cPanel), Helm. While these "one-click" installation services can ease installation, they sometimes do not provide secure or up-to-date software versions.
Explore the CMS options at:
- The website CMS Matrix allows you to compare features on approximately 100 different CMS solutions. The "Search the Matrix" feature allows you to filter the list according to the features that you need for your site.
- The website Open Source CMS Systems allows you to demo 40-50 LAMP-based Portals(CMS) and review the comments left by other visitors. ("LAMP" is an acronym for 'Linux-Apache-MySql-PHP' software.)
---Listed below are details for some CMS packages that churches use to build and maintain websites.
License: FREE (distributed under GNU General Public License)
Notes: To get a simple CMS site up and start managing it is relatively simple. The product is described on its website as "simple enough to run family websites...." The standard installation provides a very friendly interface, a lot of guidance, explanations of CMS concepts, and such. This makes the product easier for the inexperienced to start working with. The CMS allows creation of web sites having good compliance with web and accessibility standards, but it does not enforce such standards. This CMS makes use of the preexisting SMARTY theme/template engine and the PHP and MySQL components. Work on this project began as a small in-house project in 2004. This is a relatively new product, with its first stable release being made available in 2006. It appears well regarded in CMS user and developer community. It earned added recognition in 2007 with a third place showing in the Open Source CMS competition sponsored by Packt Publishing.
- very easy to make a hierarchical website
- very nice administration interface, ordered by role and tasks
- standard news module, RSS feeds, file and image managers, and WYSIWYG editor
- module manager, allowing to download and install modules from the browser
- many modules available
- allows for different types of users with individual permissions, which is useful for allowing many people to edit portions of the site.
- inconsistent add-on modules (different ways of doing things)
- lack of CMSMS functionality, a lot is borrowed from other OS software
- WYSIWYG editor does not function very well. The formating is not consistent unless the content is created within CMSMS, and changes to the formatting do not apply consistently. The paste from Word function also does not function well.
Update Dec. 2007 With the release of Version 1.2.2 "Holetown" -- November 30, 2007 the WYSIWYG editor and other add-ons/modules have become more stable. The default editor is now TinyMCE. Pasting text from MSWord will remove formating except line breaks. The use of the word processer like buttons makes quick work of reformatting the content.
- Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church
- First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin
- other denominations have congregations using it, but this Wiki is in need of more quality examples.
License: FREE (GNU General Public License)
Advantages: Contentor was designed for small to medium-sized web sites, typical of sites for/by small non-profit corporations or individuals. It was developed by a fellow UU, Earl Daniels.
Disadvantages: Unclear how much usage or support there is.
(this wiki entry is in need of a good example site)
License: FREE (GNU General Public License)
Notes: Implemented using relatively common PHP and MySQL resources. Originally developed for 'community' participation web sites where everyone in the community is able to contribute content. Today the program is being used for a wider range of uses, including online press (The Progressive, The Onion), academic sites, media libraries, and galleries. It can be used both for sites with very limited access (just a few authors) or by a very expansive community of users and authors with different privileges. The project was started in the year 2000. While the most current release is version 6.x (became available Feb. 13,2008), version 5.x will for many months continue to be better supported by add-on packages. The 4.7.x version is no longer being supported.
Advantages: Easy to create news items, single author and multi author documents, audio & video posts (podcasts), galleries (image collections), etc. The base program is highly compliant with both general W3C web design standards (XHTML strict and CSS) and accessibility standards (WCAGand Section 508 requirements). Many theme templates and lots of additional modules are freely available from the central Drupal community site. Common modules include kits which can be use to create custom content types and views. Content can be edited in WYSIWG mode or HTML using a choice of tunable editors. Regulation of user roles and privileges is very adjustable. Editing experience and viewing experience can be customized for different users. Content categorization and use of categorization is both flexible and pervasive. Technical support is available through an active user community on Drupal's community support site. A dedicated Drupal commercial hosting service option is available (Bryght Community content hosting).
Disadvantages: Many of the contributed modules are not that reliable. The rapid advance of the Drupal core program (about one major version update a year) makes it easy to find your site is reliant on modules that have not been updated and may not get updated. Administration is done through same interface as is used for general site viewing (rather than a purpose specific back end interface). Strict enforcement of design and coding creates requirements that may pose difficulties for some trying to make customizations. Building a multi featured site requires the selection, installation, and maintenance of many third party modules.
- Number of user logins: at least one, but an unlimited number may be created
- Registration: May be set to "anyone may register", "anyone may register, but must be approved by admin", or "no one may register". Various modules available to extend these options.
- Separate file/page logins: no, everything is handled via a single login interface
- Approx setup time: First time user, about 1/2 - 1 day. Experienced user, about 15 - 30 minutes.
- Custom scripts allowed: Yes; may create "modules" to extend system-wide functionality, or may inject PHP directly into a page
- Custom templates allowed: Yes; may create a custom "theme"
- Number of templates available: A very large number. Many are listed on the Drupal themes page, and most of those are free.
- Extremely customizable
- Very large community - if you want to do something with Drupal, someone else has probably already done it
- Many modules available for extending the core system
- Extremely lightweight; does not require much server space or bandwidth, and is compatible with a wide variety of browsers
- Requires some time and effort to learn
- Too many modules - it can be difficult to find, assemble and maintain the modules you need
To login as the admin, add a new page, and edit that page: 1. Go to http://demo.opensourcecms.com/drupal/?q=user 2. Login with the administrative password (username admin, password demo) 3. Go to http://demo.opensourcecms.com/drupal/node/add/page 4. Type in the page title, and some body text 5. If you want, feel free to play with the various options which appear when you click "Comment settings", "Authoring information", and "Publishing options"; you can also change these later, by editing the page. 6. Click Submit 7. You should see the new page, with a button to edit it, if you want. 8. To see the page as it would appear to a non-administrative user, copy the URL for the page somewhere convenient, go to http://demo.opensourcecms.com/drupal/logout , and then go back to the page URL.
Note: OpenSourceCMS.com occasionally wipes its demos clean - do not save precious work there!
- Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
- Baltimore, Washington, No. Virginia UUs
- First Parish Cambridge
- First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee
- Follen Church Society
- Gaia Community
- Life Now Radio... UU + Drupal, but a podcast...not a church
- Prairie Star District's "Prairie Store"
- Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
- UUSC - Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
- University Unitarian Church (Seattle WA)
- UUMA - Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association
- Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough (Peterborough, Ontario)
- Upper Delaware Unitarian Fellowship
- If you google "church drupal" you can also find quite a few churches of other denominations using it. -An example using a number of good design principles can be seen at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. A collected listing of Church Websites running Drupal has been collected in the Churches group at groups.drupal.org.
License: FREE (both Mambo and Joomla! use the GNU General Public License)
Notes: Probably the most popular CMS. Listed together: Mambo and Joomla! share a common design heritage. In mid-2005 the Miro corporation set up a "Mambo Foundation" in an attempt to exert more control via their ownership of the trademark. This was strongly resisted by the Mambo developer community, which left en-masse and are continuing their development using the name "Joomla!". As these two programs continue development they are likely to become much more distinct and less able to share. Several web hosting services support installation through automated installation scripts or "one-button installs". It uses the same PHP and MySQL components as most other CMS's listed here. The project was started in the year 2000.
Advantages: Administration is done through a separate "back end" interface to avoid limitations of the "front end" interface used during normal site viewing and navigation. Administration interface has an graphic icon driven interface that makes use less intimidating for some. Theme templates and module extensions are easily loaded remotely since the interface accepts compressed modules remotely, transfers them, and unpacks on the server before loading them for use. Content can be edited in WYSIWG mode or HTML using the included editor. The popularity of the system has resulted in good availability of themes, extensions and experienced developers. Supports blogs, web feeds, multimedia, calendars, galleries, and podcasting through options and extensions. Administration interface and loose enforcement of constraints makes modification of theme templates easier than some other CMS.
Disadvantages: Most new work seems to be taking the Joomla! fork. User reviews of the fall 2006 update to Mambo show comparatively high levels of user dissatisfaction. The older Joomla! 1.0 release is well established, but does not achieve compliance with W3C web design standards (XHTML strict and CSS) and accessibility standards (WCAGand Section 508 requirements). A new version 1.5 was released as "stable" on January 22, 2008. The 1.0 version used tables extensively for formatting non-table content. Improvements in these areas was a major objective of the 1.5 release of Joomla!. However, due to the large amount of design experience and extensions developed around Joomla! 1.0 and Mambo, it is not clear how readily the improvements provided by version Joomla! 1.5 could be implemented.
Interest list: There is a Google group for conversation about using Joomla for UU congregations at * 
- The Unitarian Church in Summit (New Jersey)
- The Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist in Manhattan (New York)
- The Church of the Younger Fellowship
- Central Midwest District Young Adult Network
- First Parish Church in Plymouth
- First Parish in Concord
- Wright Tavern Center for Spiritual Renewal
- First UU Church of Second Life
- James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation
- May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society
- Southwest District Young Religious Unitarian Universalists
- Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church
- Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet
- Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura
- Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office
- First Parish in Bedford UU
- First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor
- Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, WI
THE FOLLOWING USE JOOMLA (as of August 2009)
- UU Congregation of Miami
- Washington State UU Voices for Justice
- All Souls UU Church, Watertown, NY
- UU Congregation of Princeton
- Community UU Church, San Antonio TX
- UULM New Jersey
- First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, OH - Joomla 1.5
- Tahoma UU Congregation, Tacoma, WA
- UU Fellowship of Gainesville (FL) - Joomla 1.5
- Northeast Cluster of the Florida District - Joomla 1.5
- Central Midwest District - Joomla 1.5
- UU Women and Religion - Joomla 1.5
- Cakes for the Queen of Heaven curriculum - formerly used WordPress - Joomla 1.5
- Margaret Fuller Bicentennial - Joomla 1.5
- Central Midwest District Women and Religion - Joomla 1.5
- Joseph Priestley District Women and Religion - Joomla 1.0
- CMwD Emerging UU congregations - Joomla 1.5
- CMwD-Heartland-Prairie Star Districts leadership - Joomla 1.5
- Berrien UU Fellowship, St. Joseph, Michigan - Joomla 1.5
- Neshoba Unitarian Universalist Church, Cordova, Tennessee - Joomla 1.5
- Community Church Unitarian Universalist, New Orleans, LA
- Greater New Orleans UUs, New Orleans LA
- First Unitarian Society of Schenectady, NY - Joomla 1.5
License: Free (GPL)
Advantages: Allows separate password protected areas for different site editors. Has a lot of forum features built in.
Disadvantages: Set up does not contain user-friendly instructions; instructions are found elsewhere. Design flexibility is limited.
License: FREE: (GNU General Public License)
Notes: Plone is a ready-to-run content management system that is built on the powerful and free Zope® application server. Plone provides a system for managing web content that is suitable for project groups, communities, web sites, extranets and intranets. Zope is a full web application environment using its own transactional object database and programmed in the full featured, object oriented, Python scripting language. The project was started in the year 1999.
Advantages: It is easy to create events, news items, new documents, photos, and other files. It uses both HTML and an easy to use Structured Text for those who are unfamiliar with website design. It has many add-on products that extend features available. It has a very flexible security/permissions structure which allows people and groups with different roles to have control over different aspects and different parts of the site. Plone can manage custom content types. Plone delivers excellent compliance with W3C web (XHTML strict and CSS) and accessibility standards (WCAGand Section 508). It can be set up to run on many different types of web servers (Linux, Windows, Mac, BSD etc.) A large developer community, and commercial support is available.
Disadvantages: Plone will generally require a specialized web host or virtual web server due to its use of Zope rather than Apache, PHP and MySQL. It is resource-hungry on the server. It requires over 75 MB RAM dedicated to your site which tends to cost from $15 to $40/month. It will require much more learning by the webmaster about how to back up the custom database, how to combine with Apache for speed and web access logs, etc. For more insights, see http://plone.org/documentation/faq/is-plone-for-me
- First Unitarian Church of Portland
- Spindletop Unitarian Church
- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem
To try it out, create your own free site at http://www.objectis.org/ or create your own account at a Plone-based community site like http://plone.org/ For more flexible production hosting, you might look at http://interlix.com, or http://quintagroup.com
License: Proprietary - by arrangement with "Revoluution Media"
Advantages: Vendor assistance and support. Vendor offers an integrated service package. The vendor has experience serving a number of other Unitarian Universalist communities. System can be optimized for a small user base.
Disadvantages: Costs associated with vendor service. Dependencies associated with a single vendor solutions. System has a small user base to test system operation and to support addition and refinement of features.
Examples: (this wiki entry is in need of a good example site)
License: Proprietary. Free if you use a host service that offer the software (see link above).
Advantages: Offers more flexible design options than some other CMSs - many design elements available, not just full templates. User-friendly instructions for people with good web experience. Customizing options available (uploading your own header images).
Disadvantages: Limited to servers that offer it. More steps needed to edit than some other CMSs.
- Dr. Chris Bell - code for Sitemeter added as free service (not available with software)
License: Proprietary. Basic version is free of cost. "For 15 days, all of the full-version features will be turned on for you. After your full-version trial expires you can keep using all of the ProBase features forever for free, or you can purchase a full-version license and pick up where you left off with the advanced features." according to 3ix.org, but see Choosing a Web Hosting Service for one that offers the Pro version free
Advantages: Relatively easy to use and to set up. A non-tech person can learn how to add information to the site using a web browser and username and password. There are limited templates with the program, but there are forums that give information about creating customized designs.
Disadvantages: Requires several steps for the editor to create a page - is not a wysiwyg tool. Does not allow for separate password protected folders for different editors of different areas of the site as might be needed for a large site. Might have limits that I'm not aware of as I've only used it for small sites. Experienced problems updating the software without having the content removed, but server had backup to restore it and forum gives instructions on how to correct the problem.
Examples: Joseph Priestley District Women and Religion - this site was set up by someone with moderate tech skills and instructions were created for volunteer site managers - uses a template that was provided plus their logo designed by a member artist (2008 was updated to a Joomla site)
4 Steps Creative Learning Child Care Services - this is not a UU site, but it demonstrates how a template can be edited for a new design - a real estate template was used, header photos were replaced, and colors were changed. The counter at the bottom is a free sitemeter - not a part of the Soholaunch program, but it shows that code can be added for other services.
License: a custom open source license.
Notes: From the Project Page on SourceForge: Thetaworld MakeSite is an offline Content Management System for static pages based on PostgreSQL, Perl, Gedafe and web GUI. It supports Links Catalog similar to Yahoo, multi categories, pages, different publishing targets and online e-commerce shop..
Advantages: Relatively simple and efficient in operation.
Disadvantages: Unclear how much usage or support there is. Limited in features with little apparent prospect for evolution. No apparent maintenance since December 2005. Uses/Requires some less common (but publicly licensed) web components.
License: FREE (distributed under GNU General Public License, GPLv3)
Notes: The conventional wisdom is that this is a full featured and well regarded program well suited for large organizations and those having the background and time available to master it. It is not as well suited for simpler web sites and not for web novices. Three descriptive quotes from the TYPO3 website:
- "TYPO3 is a content management system for enterprise purposes on the web and in intranets. It offers full flexibility and extendability while featuring an accomplished set of ready-made interfaces, functions and modules."
- "Whether you are looking to manage content in a large corporation, university, non-profit organization or a small business, we can provide you with an enterprise-level solution that meets your needs."
- "TYPO3 is a small to midsize enterprise-class Content Management Framework offering the best of both worlds: out-of-the-box operation with a complete set of standard modules and a clean and sturdy high-performance architecture accomodating virtually every kind of custom solution or extension."
Advantages: The program can scale up to fit a large enterprise operation.
Disadvantages: The program has a reputation for having a steeper learning curve than most of the alternatives listed here.
Notes: The term template may be a bit misleading. These file sets create a scripted (PHP) interface, a choice of two visual themes and a standard set of church web pages. It provides a user interface allowing authorized users to login to the site from any web browser. Once logged in, the authorized user can create content, perform basic maintenance, and extend the page and menu content without any web editing tools. New as of May 2006; the specs for future versions are being considered to improve it.
Advantages: The UU Web Templates are designed and prepared specifically for use by UU congregations needing to create a first web site and should allow a quick and low cost launch. The UU Web Templates can also be used as an add-on or for use in re-design of a site. The project is supported by fellow UUs so the community is limited, but shares a lot of common knowledge. There is an email list to communicate with the other users. The simplicity of the design allows the templates to function on both Linux/Unix and Windows web servers. The templates do not require the complexity of a database setup and maintenance.
Disadvantages: A limited selection of styles and color schemes are built into the design. Limitations on the degree to which a site can be extended. There is currently no support for "Web 2.0" features such as media, community/social networking and blogs. The constraints of a small community of users may create some difficulties in maintaining and growing the application. Unspecified problems have been reported.
- All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church of Braintree
- Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society
- LUUNA - Latino(a) Unitarian Universalist Networking Association
- Oaklandon Unitarian Universalist Church
- Unitarian Universalist Church of Rutland
- Second Parish - Unitarian Universalist
- Unitarian Universalists of Coastal Georgia
- Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cookeville
- Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima
- UU Fellowship of Greater Cumberland
- The United Unitarian & Universalist Society of Mukwonago
- Thermal Belt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
License: FREE (distributed under GNU General Public License)
Notes: Designed principally for blogs, the basic package also supports standard web pages and a multi-level menu structure. It is easily extended through a "plug-in" interface to add support for podcasting and image galleries. Recent updates allow for a site that does not contain a blog on the opening page. Because of its popularity and flexibility, it is being used for multi-purpose and some general purpose websites. It uses the same PHP and MySQL components as most other CMS's listed here. The WordPress product name is relatively new, but the product evolved directly from the b2 product which originated in 2001.
Advantages: WordPress is relatively easy to setup and understand. It is also a relatively mature and well maintained program. This has resulted in it being both very stable and web and accessibility standard compliant. The WordPress site provides extensive guidelines on how to improve and maintain accessibility. An extremely large collection of theme templates and plug-ins is available in the public domain and from custom developers. Themes are easily and quickly switched and customized from within the administrative interface. Non-blog pages and menus are relatively easy to create. The tabbed administrative interface opens on a dashboard which displays the system status and provides notices of upgrades from WordPress. Content is created and edited using an interactive WYSIWYG editor that allows tabbing between a formated presentation and direct HTML editing. The editor provides both auto-save backups during editing and spell checking. Edits can be saved to draft, or private, or published for public viewing. Its podcasting feed support exceeds those of other CMS offerings. It is common for web hosting services to supply their customers with a "one-button" installation for the WordPress application. A dedicated commercial hosting service option is available from WordPress.com.
Disadvantages: The program is designed and maintained to support the specific purpose of blogging. Congregations attempting to use it for broader purposes may encounter limitations (either immediately or in the future).
- DRUUMM: Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries
- First Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hunterdon County
- Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson
- Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines
- First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin Sermons
- First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin Announcements(uses the blog via e-mail function and a cron job to automatically post the announcements when they are e-mailed to the congregation. An auto-delete plug-in is installed so that only the current week's announcements are available.)