Thursday, June 29, 2006

CMS vs Dreamweaver via Luke

"When you use Dreamweaver you're creating mostly static HTML pages, which you then upload to a server.

A content-management system (CMS), is how you create and manage a totally database-driven site. You use (generally) web-based tools to log into the system, create/delete/modify content, create the "look and feel" of the site, specify how you want that content laid out on the pages, etc. All of the pieces -- the chunks of content you create (images, chunks of text, etc.), the stylesheets that determine
the layout, the way you order them on the page, etc. -- are all components that are stored by the system, mostly in a database (but also sometimes as discrete files). The "page" that the user sees is usually not "assembled" until the user requests it. At that time, the CMS application receives the request, retrieves and assembles the different components from the database as needed to fulfill that request, and then hands off the compiled page to the webserver, which then sends it to the
user. That's why a CMS can be so flexible and dynamic! A single piece of content can easily appear on different pages across the site, and if it is updated in one place, it updates everywhere. CMSes are very good at allowing you to distribute the work of updating the website across the whole organization, because they typically provide an easy way for people to update designated content (instead of having to deal with static HTML files and FTP) and the administrator can set up the security to determine which employees have permission to update which areas of the site. Many CMSes also have lots of optional plug-ins or modules that you can use to add different kinds of functionality to your site -- like displaying RSS feeds, or calendars of events, or tracking usage statistics, or displaying slideshows, or offering an on-site chat service, or even internationalization for managing content on a multilingual site.

Not all CMSes are open-source, but there are some very good ones out there. Take a look at this article to see if it's helpful for you:

Open source tools for content management

Hope this helps... Let me know if I can help with other questions."

Luke Rosenberger, Technology Librarian
Automated Library Services, DSTC
North Harris Montgomery Community College District
5000 Research Forest Dr
The Woodlands TX 77381-4399
tel 832-813-6652


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