Flexible Content Management System


Open Source Content Management Systems Make E-commerce Websites Affordable

Contributed by on Apr 23, 2003 - 08:38 PM

No, the web publisher wasn’t being unreasonable. It seems that hackers had demolished their first effort which had consumed nine months of work, databases brimming with valuable IT information the staff had gathered and uploaded, and most of their cash reserves—because the custom developer failed to backup the site.

My first concern was how computer savvy and organized this client was. If she was going to require a lot of training and hand-holding, even implementing an open-source solution would cost more than her budget would allow. So I sent her a number of questions to answer, such as:

  • What kind of site do you need developed?

  • How did you choose php?

  • Is an admin interface required?

  • Do you need to manage banner ads?

  • What are your support requirements after implementation?”

After she ‘passed my test,’ I told her that I thought she’d have difficulty programming the site from scratch for $4-5,000, even in India. Then I told her that from her requirements, she was ‘re-inventing the wheel.’I told her that there are numerous free open source CMSs with all of the functionality she needed and then some. I told her that by using this approach, I could deliver a fully functional site by the end of the year within the budget she specified.

Within hours, I received a request for an in-person meeting. Because this client had a clear idea of all of the components and capabilities she wanted, I was able to recommend a comprehensive solution that would address all of the issues her specifications raised. This saved a lot of time and expense, as well as made my job much less frustrating.

After the meeting, I sent the PostNuke (<a href=""target="new"> manual to the client for review. I recommended PostNuke because it provides full CSS support, HTML 4.01 transitional compliance, and an advanced blocks system. However, she astutely pointed out that, according to the documentation, unique block/page configuration for multiple pages isn’t possible—a stringent requirement for the implementation.

By examining other PostNuke site installations and reading forum discussions, I quickly figured out that multiple PostNuke installs would work around the page layout problem and provide complete control over the subsite blocks. A PostNuke subsite is an additional installation of PostNuke within the ‘main’ PostNuke installation. For example, if the main PostNuke installation is installed under ‘/htdocs/postnuke’, a subsite would be installed under ‘/htdocs/postnuke/subsite1’.

Each subsite has the ability to be configured completely separately from the main PostNuke installation. This allows the administrator to manage separate topics as their own distinct ‘subsites.’ is configured to share all information between the subsites except for the subsites’ block configuration. Subsites are configured to maintain their own block layouts—thus each page can be laid out uniquely.

The client wanted to use html blocks to handle the bulk of the content since she thought the PostNuke articles feature would be tedious to maintain. However, PostNuke only searches major modules, not html pages. To resolve the html layout and search issues, I integrated a PostNuke module called Content Express (<a href=""target="new"> This module provides the site with a very friendly admin interface for adding html pages and controlling the site navigation, as well as a search engine for html pages. However, Content Express wasn’t built for multi-site configuration, so I had to figure out what it was doing to know how to integrate it for the multi-site solution.”

To complete the site, I integrated free PostNuke modules to provide an ezine, forum, job bank, and banner/ad management. Within two weeks, my client was laying out pages and uploading data. And by the end of two months the site was up—within her budget and without sacrificing one feature or requirement. The only software she had to purchase was a classified ads module and shopping cart for $59, plus a $30 theme. The rest of the modules were free.”

The flexibility, performance, and ease of administration of the (<a href=""target="new"> implementation is a testament to how robust and cost effective open source CMSs are.”

Additional Resources: (open source weblog/content management system) <a href=""target="new">

Content Express (open source Web content management system) <a href=""target="new">

WhatsNews (open source ezine module) <a href=""target="new">

phpAdsNew (open source ad server) <a href=""target="new">

phpBB (open-source bulletin board package) <a href=""target="new">

phProfession (open source job bank) <a href=""target="new"> Website Content/Stickiness Articles <a href=""target="new"> Web Presence Articles <a href=""target="new">

Web Marketing & E-Commerce <a href=""target="new"> - Free website promotion tutorial <a href=""target="new">

Linda Christie, a freelance writer based in Omaha NE, is the Executive Editor for <a href=""target="new">