Open Source CMS Pros and Cons - a Developer's Perspective

By Rob Gravelle

Open Source CMS Pros and Cons - a Developer's Perspective

The phrase "Open Source CMS" lingers in the minds and hearts of many developers. CMSes are today's talk of the Internet, and you won't miss the discussion in local schools and private offices either. I don't remember for how long I have used Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS) to manage local and international websites. However, I have implemented CMS-based solutions long enough, and I can tell you from experience these tools did become the big digital craze for many professional reasons.

Everyone is talking about how Content Management Systems like Joomla and WordPress have changed - how developers write short codes (i.e. [gallery], [instagram]), while needing virtually no coding experience at all. Today, anyone, from newbie web designers to programming pros to graphics developers and graffiti creators, can use Open Source CMS to setup a website and establish an online presence without the need to maintain any programming code.

From a developer's point of view though, Open Source CMSes have many advantages as well as a number of drawbacks. It would be best to familiarize yourself with the potential benefits of the existing tools and the problems you are likely to encounter as you use them.

The Pros and Cons of Open Source Content Management Systems

The Advantages

There are many reasons why people use Open Source Content Management Systems. I like to think that developers have different reasons for incorporating CMS solutions into their projects, which means almost every person has his or her own views. Here is what I think make Open Source CMSes special - in my opinion.

Open Source CMS are free and easy to use

The number of coding websites, blogs, and apps built from scratch these days is growing thinner by day. The primary reason why many people who would rather take their changes with Content Management Systems is that Open Source CMSes are 100% free. You don't need to pay to download the software solution. CMSes also have themes in the count of hundreds of thousands. These themes are usually not only available for free download but also they are also easy to install and customize.

You don't have to maintain an Open Source CMS yourself

Newbie programmers often have a wonderful saying; they believe writing code is fun. However, coding and maintaining the existing code are different things. The truth is maintaining an existing system is almost always a pain in the rear. Those who have been in the programming field for a long time struggle to maintain existing web systems. The average software developer often has no idea what solutions to use to streamline the maintenance process. Newbies and pros alike love shortcuts, which is exactly what Open Source CMSes offer. If you are already using a CMS, you don't have to worry about maintenance; there is always a team of developers out there doing the job on your behalf every day.

Free Updates, for a Lifetime

Let's face it, updating the look and feel of your system from a "regular" programming standpoint can be somewhat frustrating. Just imagine having to delete a section of a deprecated code and updating the deleted part with an up-to-date technology. Think about how much time you are likely to spend coding from scratch while trying to catch up with additional necessary business. Overall, it is all nothing but pain, a waste of time, and misuse of energy. Although Content Management Systems didn't come to take coding out of the picture, they indeed made developing and maintaining websites easier.

You will always get an email from the developer team whenever there are new updates. There will always be an alert sent to you when an existing theme needs an update. Moreover, the update process is often quick, and it can take approximately five minutes to update your system, or maybe less than that. Open Source CMS developers often notify their users when their systems are out of date. Finally, notifications for new updates are always available, and you can update your system instantly with a single click of a button.

No technical skills required to use Open Source CMSes

"Create a website and blog without writing any line or block of code". You are already aware of the slogan. Today, anyone with an Internet connection, a computer, and a desire to have a website or a blog can create one whether they have coding experience or not. And if you are willing to accept it, many of the millions of websites running on Open Source CMSes belong to people without a coding background. Many free themes come with a comprehensive manual that anyone with a basic understanding of the English language can follow easily.

The Disadvantages

Let's call a spade a spade; Open Source CMSes also have their downside, making them look rather ugly and somewhat unreliable. Again, in my opinion, here are the major drawbacks of Open Source CMSes.

Security threats won't go away soon

Hacking still continues, and Open Source CMSes are vulnerable to hacking. It is okay to fool yourself into believing that there are security measures in place. However, until a 100% secure algorithm comes into play (probably never), web hacking is something we still have to deal with. The question you have to ask yourself is, can you depend on a third party to protect your site content and data?

Not a good framework for app development

If you are hoping to use a CMS to build hybrid apps from start to finish without writing any code, this is not yet the right century to do so. Until CMSes are at the level where you can build application behavior without writing code, you are going to have to keep coding.

Conclusion

You probably have your own thoughts why CMSes are good and/or bad. Now you have a few more hints to add to your existing list of open source Content Management Systems' pros and cons.

By Rob Gravelle with Lisa Smith



Rob Gravelle

Rob Gravelle resides in Ottawa, Canada, and is the founder of GravelleWebDesign.com. Rob has built web applications for numerous businesses and has recently developed his own jquery-tables library.

Rob's alter-ego, "Blackjacques", is an accomplished guitar player, that has released several CDs. His band, Ivory Knight, was rated as one of Canada's top hard rock and metal groups by Brave Words magazine (issue #92) and reached the #1 spot in the National Heavy Metal charts on ReverbNation.com.

Lisa is a designer by profession and writer by choice, she writes for almost all topics but design and Fashion are her favorites. Apart from these she also Volunteers at few Animal rescue centers.



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