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Kerry Peterson
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OpenCms (http://opencms.orgTool evaluation

Overview

OpenCms (http://www.opencms.org/en/) is an open source content management system (CMS) developed by Alkacon Software.  It is licensed under a GNU (http://gnu.org) General Public License which allows the user to share and make changes, making it more useful and flexible for the organisation using it.  OpenCms has been consistently improved since it was first released in 2000 as evidenced by regular version releases and a list of existing users from around the world including government, retail, manufacturing, software, financial services, media, military etc.  These factors indicate that OpenCms is current and, with an established user community, provides support and ongoing development and improvement.

Features

Some features of OpenCms are:

  • Fully browser based
  • Page editing, creation, deletion and arrangement with drag and drop functionality
  • Webpage content modification
  • WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) enabled
  • Easy sitemap management – create and rearrange webpages within the hierarchy using drag and drop functionality
  • Apache Solr search tool featuring faceted search, range-queries, synonyms & language detection
  • Image scaling and resizing
  • Offline and online workflows
  • Link management & broken link detection
  • Full text searching of multiple text formats
  • Compatible with most existing IT infrastructure & browsers
  • Accepts multiple content formats
  • Optional widgets offering greater functionality
  • File caching

Information Architecture features

While OpenCms provides hierarchal storage to organise information it also uses galleries for different types of resources such as downloads, images, html, links etc. using tagging and metadata capture to increase discoverability while giving organisations several ways to manage content. 

Browser based user interface makes it easy for site editors to create, delete, add or rearrange content using ‘drag and drop’, giving them an instant view of the new web page design, enabling easy navigation.  The sitemap editor allows changes to the site navigation structure with drag and drop. Organisations can establish a workflow that requires sign-off by an administrator before going live with changes.

Administrators can;

  • manage user accounts
  • manage configuration tasks
  • configure search options
  • set file permissions
  • approve changes before publishing live (workflow), and
  • schedule jobs such as link checking 

Search system

Apache Solr (http://lucene.apache.org/solr/). is used as an enterprise search platform which includes multiple format full text search capabilities with customisable real time indexing, keeping the search function up-to-date.  Metadata indexing enables searches of non-text based formats.

Conclusion

OpenCms is a good choice of CMS for a medium to large organisation.  The software is free, easy to download as a zip file and compatible with most browsers, making it easy for content experts to develop and update content.  Integrated online/offline workflows generate an email to web managers/administrator with a link to the list of changes awaiting approval, this step being essential considering the simplicity with which changes can be made. 

Explorer view is available to display, edit and organise the contents of the website in a folder tree allowing administrators to view the site design in a structured/hierarchical format making it easy to manage objects.  The system allows for good page organisation and content management. The danger may be in the system’s simplicity, guidelines should be established a functional taxonomy and ensure compliance with the organisation’s workflow to support information architecture practices.   

Microsoft Word version of this document.


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