The Dangers of Reviewing Open Source CMS

The April issue of Adobe Edge contains the article, Review of open source content management systems. The article provides an overview of what the author describes as "five of the top open source software (OSS) solutions". The five open source CMS included in the author's list are CMS Made Simple, Drupal, Joomla!, WordPress, and XOOPS. After reading the article, I found myself wondering how we "reviewers" can actually improve our reviews of open source CMS. More importantly, I've come to the realization that I can no longer claim to be non-biased in which CMS I believe is the best out there.

The author does a fine job in the article describing the similarities and differences between the CMS being reviewed. However, one of the issues I have in this article and many others I've read that review CMS is the big jumps in the conclusion:

Drupal, Joomla!, and XOOPS are best for building an e-commerce site because all three offer:

  • Inventory management
  • Support for third-party payment processing mechanisms (such as PayPal)
  • Modules for shipping and sales tax calculators
  • Shopping cart functionality

While it is true that Drupal, Joomla! and XOOPS can do e-commerce, none of these CMS can do that straight out of the box. I can just imagine a shop owner or design company trying Drupal, Joomla!, or XOOPS for the very first time and wondering, "how the heck do I get a shopping-cart into the CMS?". While the author does hint in the article that third-party modules are needed to make the e-commerce work, I think the author would have been better off better explaining that "some work is required" to get those features into the CMS.

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Amy Stephen's comments on Blackboard and Patents

Amy Stephen, OpenSourceCommunity.org, commented recently Blackboard's patent claims to the learning management system. Amy's comments and references are well worth reading in her post, Campus Technology: Interview with Blackboard Chief Legal Officer Matthew Small. Don't you just love it when Amy goes Groklaw on all of us? Hooray for Amy.

Mollom: Drupal's new weapon for fighting spam

Dries Buytaert, Drupal's project leader, has just unveiled his latest Drupal project...Mollom. Mollom's goal is to be an automated content monitoring system with one of its initial services geared toward providing a spam filter and CAPTCHA server for websites.

Dries Buytaert: Mollom, my content monitoring startup -

After several months of private beta testing, Benjamin Schrauwen and I are happy to unveil Mollom, your partner in automated content monitoring. Mollom's purpose is to dramatically reduce the effort of keeping your websites clean and the quality of their user-generated content high. Currently, Mollom is a spam-killing, one-two punch combination of a state-of-the-art spam filter and CAPTCHA server. We are experimenting with automated content quality assessments, but these are still in an early testing phase.

CMSReport.com is one in a number of Drupal sites that have been "secretly" testing Mollom over the past several months. Since installing Mollom, I've been able to sleep at night knowing that Mollom is watching over my site. The amount of time I spend on moderating anonymous comments for potential spam has been significantly reduced thanks to Mollom. This is good stuff from Dries Buytaert and Benjamin Schrauwen!

Nice to see a LifeType story

LifeType (formerly known as pLog) dropped off my radar scope some time ago. I'm not sure why, but I think at the time I had the desire to concentrate more on full featured content management systems and less on just blogging applications. So, like catching up with old classmate, it's nice to see this Linux.com article focusing on LifeType:

LifeType is a full-featured GPL blogging platform designed for use with a MySQL database and PHP...LifeType is perfect for site owners who want to administer multiple blogs and users through one back end. Even if you have only one blog and one user, you'll appreciate the features and flexibility of LifeType.

You can read the complete story at Linux.com, Want a blog? Get a LifeType.

Nobody Home...

This is a tough time for blog reading junkies like me. I like to spend some of my time in the evenings winding down by reading CMS related blogs. Well, it seems some of my favorite blogs have decided to take a vacation. For example, many of the working group blogs found at Joomla.org are down.

No problem, right? I can can always visit some of the blogs I have listed in my blogroll. However, you'll also find Jeff Eaton's blog (Drupal) has been down for some time. Recently, JoeJoomla's blog has also been offline. Perhaps, it is time I find something else to do for relaxation...like talk to the wife. That's a new idea...and a good one too.

Running on Windows Vista SP1

Last Tuesday evening, I upgraded my Windows Vista desktop to Service Pack 1. If you regularly visit my blog, you know that I'm a long-time user of both Windows and Linux. You also know, that I've been deeply disappointed in Windows Vista.

The install of Vista SP1 went smoothly and I haven't discovered any of the driver issues other Windows users are having. This shouldn't be a surprise since I did have good luck running my box on the SP1 RC1 Refresh. Performance has been slightly improved since the original version of Vista. More importantly, I don't have to reboot my PC once a day just so I can get my LAN connectivity back. In short, Vista users will want to upgrade to SP1, but I still recommend those happy with their Windows XP, Linux, or Mac desktops to stay exactly right where they are.

Odd Conclusion for Drupal 6 Article

Linux.com is featuring a story by Susan Linton titled "Drupal 6 keeps getting better". The author claims she has been using Drupal since version 3.1 and seems to know Drupal well enough to write a decent article. In short, she does a fairly nice job of summarizing the features introduced in Drupal 6. However, she ends the article with a rather strange conclusion.

My primary complaint with Drupal is still not addressed in this release. I believe having advertising capabilities is almost a necessity in any content management solution. Instead, Drupal leaves users to their own skills or to use a contributed module. The lack of native advertising support remains a major drawback.

I rarely have seen such request for an "advertisement feature" in the core of any CMS I've reviewed. Yes, some CMS do have an advertisement feature but in most cases the capabilities of such built-in features are usually limited. Either way, I just can't imagine with the latest drive to strip the less needed modules in Drupal 7 and beyond, that the Drupal developers would go for an ad module in the core.

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Serendipity 1.3 Released

Serendipty 1.3 has been released. This new version of the blogging applications introduces 41 changes. Not only are enhancements and additional features introduced, but also changes to address a nasty cross site scripting issue (security exploit).

Some of the more significant features and enhancements for Serenditpity 1.3 include:

  • The karma rating plugin has been upgraded to support nice, CSS-based rating graphics (see this post) and an overall rehaul on the its coding.
  • Make the Spartacus plugin be able to use FTP upload, a workaround for SafeMode PHP restrictions. Also add a remote backend for plugin update checks.
  • Import scripts for phpNuke and lifetype.

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