RE: Content management

Subject: RE: Content management
From: "Don White" <writer -at- jrtcllc -dot- com>
To: "'Lauren'" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2012 18:12:26 -0400

Drupal is good, WordPress is good. I primarily use Joomla on sites I build
for cash and pro-bono clients as well as for my own purposes. Perhaps its
like the debates (never-ending debates) between Mac and Microsoft users.

The fact is, though, that the concept of "easy-to-use" has changed along
with the increased capabilities and complexities of current Web site
development.

People are not exempt from learning something HTML/XHTML because they chose
a CMS. Not every peg fits into a square receptacle.

There really are no separate Web pages on a CMS site; everything is driven
by the design and implementation of menus since all content is stored and
called from a database. You can create separate modules to present teasers
or bits of content that incite interest to click the "Read More" (or
something) link that brings up a complete article. Or you can setup menus to
display full or partial articles where you've set the Read More link deeper
in the content than the opening paragraph.

The editor interfaces used by the various CMSs automatically assign
HTML/XHTML tags to the more obvious content types (paragraph=p, bullet list
item=li, etc.). However, if you make more complete use of the CSS
possibilities built into a given template, you almost have to delve into the
source code to assign the correct span tags (<p class="...;">).

The promise of open-source content management systems was that a developer
could deliver a site that a client can use to add, modify, or remove content
without knowing XHTML/HTML or CSS. The reality is that, as design standards
and expectations have matured, so has the complexity. I take the more
flexible and popular of the CSS styles created by a template vendor and
rewrite them in the template CSS file (there may be dozens of separate CSS
files for any given template). Then, the client can select the desired
styling from a drop-down menu in the editor.

My own site is www.jrtcllc.com; a site I built for a commercial client is
http://flsamerica.com and a site I built and maintain for a volunteer trail
club is at http://www.southshenandoah.net. (I only wish that Internet
Explorer was more compatible with current W3C standards.)

Cheers,

Don White
James River Technical Communications
mailto:writer -at- jrtcllc -dot- com
www.jrtcllc.com


-----Original Message-----
From: Lauren [mailto:lauren -at- writeco -dot- net]
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 5:36 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Content management


On 7/31/2012 1:20 PM, Chris Morton wrote:
> Once again I've been asked to poll you to learn what easy-to-use CMS
> product you're using. Drupal has been offered up before, but I
> understand that there is a significant learning curve for that
> software. True? Other ideas?

Drupal is very easy to use after several years of using it.

> Specifically we're looking to manage a vast array of docs required for
> FDA compliance.

CMS is a deceptively simple concept. You risk making mistakes if you
choose a CMS based on your needs today and not on your potential for
growth. I began with WordPress and then chose Drupal because I wanted
control over my system and I wanted a system that can begin simple but
have a robust growth potential. WordPress also begins simple, but some
areas of control and robustness are limited in WordPress.

WordPress has a blog look and feel, but it can display different types
of content in many different ways. The magazine for this list is built
in WordPress.

http://techwhirl.com/

I built my animal law news site in Drupal. Most of the content comes
from press releases, so I need more original content and some editing,
but I have used various searches, views, and display tools to display
the content in a variety of ways systematically.

http://petlawnews.com/

The top of the home page is a logo, login, search, and menus that are
not fully configured. The second section contains three columns. The
first column is a list of recent content headlines and teasers, the
second column is a preview of a story and then headlines culled from
promoted content and content I wrote, and the third column is an ad and
a list of headlines of recently viewed content limited by content type.
The third section is 12 Blocks (a Drupal module) that make use of
various Drupal features. Most of the blocks are lists of headlines and
are built with keyword searches, two are based on content type and
source, and then there are two widgets.

My pages still need development. The story pages have some design
(e.g.,
http://petlawnews.com/content/pgc-news-release-anyone-missing-wallaby)
but the main section pages do not (e.g.,
http://petlawnews.com/content/news). I can design different pages for
different content types, different Views (a Drupal module) of content,
different users, and in just about any other way I can come up with to
access content. I do not care for coming up with design layouts, so I
pretty much let my system spit out content. I'm a builder; not a
designer. Drupal is very flexible for people who know how to use it,
but very frustrating for those who do not.

Building a site like this may be possible in WordPress, but I like that
I can produce content in a variety of ways in Drupal. I originally
built the second home page section with blocks in Drupal, but then
abandoned those blocks for Panels (a Drupal module) that let me change
the width and display of columns on the fly. Blocks are more rigid.
The 12 blocks in the third home page section are still in blocks, but I
may change that to Panels later. I am looking for a more automated
process of building and enabling or disabling those blocks, hopefully
with a combination of Views and Panels, rather than Blocks.

So, when searching for a CMS, it is important to keep in mind what you
need now and what you may need in the future. You also need to know if
the CMS you choose now can be ported to a different CMS later if what
you choose now does not fit well with your future needs. Many popular
CMSs can be ported back and forth with some effort.




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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help. Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need.

Try Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

http://bit.ly/doc-to-help

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