They've really been around for quite some time now. You've probably even used them yourself, if you've ever built one of the "quick" web pages using a system's standard "templates" or "tools". Maybe like so many millions of us you have started a blog or a personal diary at one of the hundreds of blog sites on line. If you have a Blog, what you've been using is a "Content Management System" (CMS) and, simply stated, what it does is allow you to create a "professional looking" web page/site or blog without the necessity of get involved with learning (at least too much) PHP (Post Hypertext Preprocessor), or HTML (HyperText Markup Language). You can be (and may be) a creative genius when it comes to putting your thoughts and concepts into words and you may be extremely knowledgeable about a particular subject, but unless you have a good understanding of HTML or one of the other popular Internet "programming languages", you'll have a hard time putting your genius on display on the Internet, in a visually attractive format, without using some sort of CMS.
Basically the way Content Management Systems work is: you create your 'content' whatever that is (An article, survey, press release, etc.) by typing your content into an interface (Form field), just as you would in your word processor or text editing program. Then with a few button clicks, you tell the CMS what you want the finished product to look like with plain English formatting commands and click PUBLISH. The system automatically loads your content to appear the way you want it on your web page. The Two Faces of CMS The two faces of CMS generated websites are the public and private faces.
The public face is what the visitor sees but cannot touch, (At least not unless the page owner has opted to allow public input); the private face is the user interface that allows full editing and formatting access to authorized users, (Normally the site owner). This private face gives the users all the whiz-bang tools -- in the form of downloadable modules -- they need to allow that user access to modify the look and 'feel' of the site in literally dozens of ways. These free downloadable modules are the very heart of CMS and there are many CMS software solutions available for free, but two stand out on the low end and high end: Low end, if all you are wanting is a Blog is "WordPress" and "Picasa", high end "TYPO3" and "Mambo". With WordPress or Picasa (Googles Blog Software), set up on a server is quick and easy if you have ever set up a PHP script on a domain server. If not, both will host your blog for you on their servers for free. Though these handle everything necessary for a blog, and have plug-ins for numerous additional features, they will not handle the high end features such as on line colaboration of things such as brain strorming like TYPO3 and Mambo will.
If what you are looking for is intra-net capabilities, the high end CMS's are for you. TYPO3 is for the enterprise web content creator who has a basic knowledge of some of the Internet protocols and languages such as PHP, MySQL and HTML; it will allow you to take that rudimentary knowledge and use it in conjunction with TYPOS's ready-made interfaces and modules to create a professional-looking, professional-acting website. As well, it has features like Multiple Page Editing, Live Search & Replace, a Task Center, Internal Search Engine and the list goes on. Mambo, on the other hand, requires no special programming knowledge -- it gives you all the tools and templates required to turn your web design concepts into reality.
The other upside to Mambo is their support forum. I couldn't find one at TYPO3. Once you've experienced CMS you'll be hooked and you'll start to see possibilities that may not have occurred to you.
Possibilities such as how CMS can benefit a large business by putting more of the responsibility for the company's web presence, in the hands of the various departments while freeing up the company's IT department to do real IT development work. The great thing about the higher end CMS applications is scalability. The small on line business owner may be wise to choose one of the higher end applications to end up with a system that will grow with their business. Personally, I am giving very serious consideration to building my next article directory with one of the high end CMS applications.
Free article directory scripts like "Article Dashboard" are great for what they are, but they do have their limitations.
Mike Claggett is the Copy Writer, Content Manager and Editor for Publishers Cloning House