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CMS List

With all the content management systems out there (CMS), it’s very hard to pick the perfect one to run your blog or project on. This question frequently comes out everywhere I go: “Which CMS Should I use in this situation?” There are thousands of CMS systems out there – some self-hosted, and some hosted for you. While we can not cover them all, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites, based on past experience, what I’ve heard from others, and which ones seems to show the most promise, and broken down some of the essential features for you to have a look at all in one glance, for a nice, quick comparison.

Self-Hosted Solutions

Wordpress

WordPress – Free/Open Source (PHP)
Key Features: Standards Compliant, automatic feed generator for almost everything, comments, user registration, mass amount of themes and plugins, bookmark and link management.

My Experience: In the past year, WordPress went from a script I would use from time to time, to a cms I put to use in all my client work when some form of content management is required. I find WordPress to have an extremely helpful community behind it, with more and more extensions constantly being created, and a (very) frequent update schedule.

Movabletype

Movabletype – Free/Paid Licenses (CGI)
Key Features: Multiple database support, activity feeds, spam protection, extensive plugin and theme lists.

My Experience: Before becoming such a huge WordPress fan, I was very much into Sixapart’s Movabletype. That began to fade out a bit when they introduced pricing schemes and limited what you could do with the Personal (free) edition. Still, I really liked the admin end of MT, and found it just as easy as WP to use. Since the last time I used MT, they have added a host of new features, which are worth checking out. Just be aware of the pricing scheme, and make sure you know the limitations of the Personal edition before you try to do to much with it. MT also uses cgi scripts for the backend and can run on multiple types of databases.

Expression Engine

Expression Engine – Free/Paid Licenses (PHP)
Key Features: Built in mailing list and manager, comments, captcha, built in hit tracking, multi user system, member groups, robust template system, decent amount of plugins available.

My Experience: The last time I used Expression Engine, it was called pmachine. Yes, it has been a while, and it appears that EE has added a ton of extra features, not to mention an update backend design. I have heard a lot of people sign praise for EE, the only problem is that features are limited in the free license version.

Textpattern

Textpattern – Free (PHP)
Key Features: Unlimited site sections, browser based file upload, built in search engine, xml feeds, unlimited site authors, multiple languages.

My Experience: Textpattern is very similar to WordPress, even the admin backend. If your contemplating between using TP and WordPress, the better choice would be WordPress due to its much more frequently updated release schedule, and its extended plugin availability.

Simplelog

Simplelog – Free (Ruby on Rails)
Key Features: Elegant administration interface, tagging, comments with spam protection, quick search with boolean logic, multiple author support, automatic pinging to Ping-o-matic, RSS 2.0 feeds, permalinks.

Radiant

Radiant – Free/Open Source (Ruby on Rails)
Key Features: Fast loading, simple admin interface, custom template language, flexible site structure, page caching, custom text filters.

My advice: Although I’ve never used Radiant (besides the demo), it looks very nice and very simple to use. We had originally planned on using it to run Devlounge, although it was still very new at the time so we didn’t go through with it. If you’re looking for a RoR cms, it’d be wise to give this a look.

Mephisto

Mephisto – Free/Open Source (Ruby on Rails)
Key Features: Mephisto is the WordPress for Ruby on Rails. Theme uploading and editing, “overview” feed, asset manager, multiple authors, great looking backend design.

My Thoughts: Mephisto looks very promising. It even recently got long time WordPress user (and past Devlounge interviewee) Steve Smith to move his entire blog and site over. I think throughout the rest of the year, Mephisto will continue to develop the product as more big-namers make the switch.

Symphony

Symphony – Free (PHP)
Key Features: Modular system, XSLT template system, clean url structure, clean admin interface.

My Experience: Symphony looks like a nice system. I first heard about almost a year ago, but at the time, it was only a paid download. Since then, Symphony has become free. Because it uses an XSLT template engine, it make time some time to adjust to if you’re used to using PHP and Smarty templating engines.

Drupal

Drupal – Free/Open Source (PHP)
Key Features: Clean urls, expandable modules, personalization, searching, polls, multiple users, threaded comments, built in news aggregator, caching, and nice collection of themes already available.

To see many of these cms systems and more in live demos, visit O.S.C..

Hosted Solutions

Metacanvas

Metacanvas – Paid
Key Features: Clean url, file manager, database driven with backups, all content is indexed and fully searchable, fully managed and hosted for you, automatic updates, standards compliant.

Pagety

Pagety – Free/Paid
Key Features: Super simple administration, easily and quickly management multiple parts of your site, add and create custom forms, template system, manage all your sites from one place.

My Experience: I recently played around with Pagety a little bit, and while it is true, it’s very simple, you can do a lot with it. Hosting is included, and there is a free plan available, so give it a try if you’re looking for a web based, hosted solution.

Got a favorite we should I add? Please let us know in the comments so we can keep the list fresh. With so many CMS choices out there, we can’t list them all, so we’re trying to list our favorites and the ones with the best promise.


  1. By Bubba posted on April 6, 2007 at 10:26 am
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    In the intro you say:

    “…I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites…”

    And then you go on to say things like:

    “I recently played around with Pagety a little bit…”
    “The last time I used Expression Engine, it was called pmachine…”
    “Although I’ve never used Radiant…”

    So this is just a link dump, not a “few of your favorites”, correct?

  2. By aj posted on April 6, 2007 at 10:55 am
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    No, this is not just a link dump. While I’ve had experiences with most of these, you don’t have to fully experience it to tell the good from the bad. There are hundreds upon hundreds of CMS systems out there, and a lot of them are shit. I’ve looked into all these and seen what can be done by using them.

  3. By Ronald Huereca posted on April 6, 2007 at 10:56 am
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    If you’re brave (and I mean brave) you can use Invision Power Board as a CMS.

  4. By aj posted on April 6, 2007 at 11:00 am
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    Heh, I’ve done it before (when it was free)..i think I’ve used just about everything somewhere along the line. Phpnuke is a great classic :P

  5. By Andrew da Silva posted on April 6, 2007 at 11:16 am
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    Thank you!

    You made me discover Symphony, very nice backend.

  6. By Luke L posted on April 6, 2007 at 12:00 pm
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    A word of warning with Symphony, while it is a brilliant system, it is still missing some required capabilities and load times on pages with a lot of elements can be upwards of a few seconds, compared to the usual 0.x load times.

  7. By Ranjani posted on April 6, 2007 at 12:18 pm
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    Very nice list! You took the order right out of my mind :P

  8. By Mike posted on April 6, 2007 at 12:59 pm
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    Great list! I’m hooked on WordPress, personally.
    Have you tried out MODx? I was interested in it when it was first released, but ultimately went with WP.

  9. By Jordan posted on April 6, 2007 at 7:29 pm
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    I tried out Symphony but there was just something lacking with it that I can’t put my finger on it. In the end I ended up switching back to WordPress.

    RadiantCMS is definitely on my list to try out; I’ve been meaning to get it set up and running on my localhost but I keep forgetting about it. It’s been my favorite CMS that I’ve yet to use :P

  10. By Neil posted on April 7, 2007 at 2:45 am
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    It’s very difficult to know a CMS until you’ve played with it extensively. My knowledge of wordpress dwarves what I know about any of the others, but I think it is healthy to experiment.

    I’m currently testing 8 CMS at work: WordPress (my preference), Jaws (very nice, easy to customise), Textpattern, Expression Engine (powerful, but counter-intuitive back end), CMS Made Simple (pretty good, nothing much), MODX (very clever ajax, bit slow), Drupal (overwhelming), Joomla (too many tables!) and EZ Publish (not easy enough to install, alas).

    We’ll probably end up going with Expression Engine, if only because the documentation is first rate but most of those on the list are adaptable enough.

  11. By aj posted on April 7, 2007 at 7:41 am
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    I’ll have to look into Jaws

  12. By Stephen posted on April 7, 2007 at 3:40 pm
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    I’m a newbie to this website (so forgive me if I’m missing something obvious), but do you have any articles/links here that give more guidance/tips to using WordPress as a CMS? You mention you use it for Client websites – are these viewable from this site? Thanks.

  13. By aj posted on April 7, 2007 at 6:44 pm
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    Search wordpress customization and you’ll find a lot of our articles dealing with WordPress. Client work is seen in my portfolio.

  14. By Olly posted on April 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm
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    I’d be interested to hear people’s opinions of Umbraco – which is a CMS for the .net platform.

    Most of the .net CMSs I’ve seen really aren’t great, but this looks promising.

  15. By Carlos Eduardo posted on April 8, 2007 at 7:26 pm
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    I like Drupal and Textpattern, but WordPress is the better choice.

  16. By MrQwest posted on April 10, 2007 at 4:48 am
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    I Can’t say I’ve had much experience when it comes to CMS platforms but for the last 6 years, i’ve been using Coranto (formerly NewsPro), a CGI based CMS without the need of MySQL.

    It was easy to use, easy to set up, but quite hard to customise.

    Problem with Coranto was that all the news files were stored in .txt files. And if you had a lot of content, the server would generally time out whilst updating these .txt files which would result in loss of ALL content. Thank god for back-ups!!

    Anywho, 6 months ago, i tried WordPress for the first time on one of my client’s sites. Unfortunatly, it wouldn’t work purely because it’d time-out every time i done anything. This was due to the a low PHP limit set by the servers. Once it was upped to 16mb, it worked, but the host didn’t want to leave it at 16mb and my client didn’t want to move hosts.

    So I tried TextPattern, and have used it ever since. Every website i control which was running Coranto is now running TextPattern!

    Only problem with TextPattern is the akward styling and themes, but all-in-all, a top CMS!

  17. By Justin posted on April 10, 2007 at 3:46 pm
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    I’ve recently been hearing a lot of requests and inquiries about Joomla. I’ve never used it but I’ve seen sites with it. has any one here had experience with Joomla?

  18. By Simon posted on April 12, 2007 at 12:40 pm
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    I have tried out Joomla briefly and have heard it is good, I think it is table based tho [think: so might not be by the way].

    I use WordPress for my blog, but am looking for a more powerful CMS for another site I have in development and was thinking about Typo-3.

    A company I use to work for used it, it’s free, PHP based and seemed quite good.

    Anyone know anything about it? [typo-3]

  19. By M4rc0 posted on April 17, 2007 at 10:48 am
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    Interesting how WP is making such a fuzz in the CMS world.

    But even more interesting, is that designing WP as CMS isn’t well documented, unfortunally.

  20. By Simon posted on April 18, 2007 at 8:27 am
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    What is this site set up using? Forgive me if it’s startingly obvious!

    The only problem with WordPress is the one blog allowance. Is it possible to run multiple blogs?

  21. By Winzip posted on April 25, 2007 at 3:29 pm
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    Hi,

    There was this CMS with a blog and forum inside. It also had a job classifieds feature in it, where you can post job descriptions and people can apply to these jobs. Does anyone know its name and web site? And any comments about that software?

    Thank you.

  22. By Winzip posted on April 28, 2007 at 4:41 pm
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    Hello, anyone?

  23. By Winzip posted on May 6, 2007 at 5:21 pm
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    Yo!

  24. By aj posted on May 6, 2007 at 5:58 pm
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    @Winzip – There are alot of CMS systems out there. Simply asking for the name of one specific one your trying to remember that includes a forum is impossible. It could have been any of the cms choices above with addons / plugins, or even a forum addon being used to run a portal.

  25. By Winzip posted on May 7, 2007 at 2:03 am
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    Well this one was quite specific because it had a “job listing” feature not as an add/on or plugin, but by default in it. You could list open positions, write information about the poisition and people who are interested about the position could compose and send their CV’s right through the system.

  26. By Dominic posted on July 12, 2007 at 12:14 pm
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    I like SiteDX for a paid service. It has a good amount of options and is easy to use for my clients. Most of my clients have found a decent template although a few have required me to change the main banner to be more in tune with their industry or business. URL is http://www.sitedx.com

  27. By Andrew da Silva posted on March 18, 2008 at 5:56 am
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    Can you guys add Habari to your list? We are an open source community-driven blogging application.

    Visit http://habariproject.org/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habari for more information! :)

    G’day!

  28. By my2cents posted on March 20, 2008 at 11:04 pm
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    Thanks for a very short and simple article, however I am afraid you forgot to mention some of the “oldies”, for example WebAPP, Mutilingual Automated Perl Portal from: http://www.web-app.net/cgi-bin/index.cgi

    With all the respect to the BIG names you mention above, those scripts are well known to suffer from security issues, some of them are critical issues.

    my2cents

  29. By Kevin posted on June 27, 2008 at 6:48 pm
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    You might want to add the BIGACE Web CMS to your list:
    http://www.bigace.de

    It is released under the GPL, free software using PHP and MySQL.

    And, thanks for your article :)

  30. By Nik posted on December 26, 2008 at 5:20 am
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    Why did you forget http://ucoz.com ?

  31. By Motaz Abuthiab posted on January 19, 2010 at 12:39 pm
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    For Italian people, try to take a look at Dinamo Cms http://www.dinamocms.com, easy to use and to extend. Commercial not free/open source

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