University Web Developers

University Web Developers

OK. This is my first week on the job and my overall long term goal is a complete website redesign. I would like to use a CMS. I am a big fan of Joomla and I have pretty good experience with it. I just wanted to shout out to everyone and ask: "What CMS are you using, why and what are some pros and cons of the system that you are using?"

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I highly recommend the OmniUpdate CMS. (

It's not a free download like Joomla, but the system is outstanding, the customer support is wonderful, and the user adoption rate is very high because it is very easy to use and powerful at the same time.
For us a multiple CMS system has proven to be effective.

For our main site we have been using a home-built CMS for 11 years. However with the growth of the OSS products we are in the process of changing. Our choices were Joomla, Drupal, and DotCMS. In the end we decided on Drupal as Joomla just has too many limitations and the DotCMS support community isn't big enough for our comfort.

For our intranet we wanted a product that is familiar to users, can easily accept contributions from a wide range of people, and has a robust support community. To meet these requirements we are using MediaWiki (the same software as WikiPedia) and after almost 4 months we are very happy with our decision.

Finally, for all other sites (faculty, student groups, classes, etc) we are using Wordpress MU for its easy of use yet rather robust capabilities when combined with various plugins etc.

Let me know if you have any questions on any of these systems.
Chris you talk of Drupal vs. Joomla and the limatations of Joomla. Can you elaberate on this. Also Joomla has a HUGE support community with tons of extensions and plugins. What does Drupal have to offer? Thanks to everyone who has responded.
I tested Joomla for our college early on. We aren't a big school by any means, but I found it to be nowhere near flexible enough for us from an administrative and management point of view, and there's no way I felt I could trust it to scale to our entire site, either logistically or through our user's ability to use it. I understand Joomla, but I wasn't comfortable assuming I could teach it to everyone else.

We went with dotCMS. It's enterprise grade, open source, and free. It scales, it integrates, it slices and dices. It's not perfect, but the cons are beyond overshadowed by the pros. There's a reason big schools generally go with big CMSs, but given the economic environment, I can't in good conscience recommend spending tens of thousands of dollars on a piece of software when there's a free alternative just as good.

Go try dotCMS. Nothing to lose, and trust me, it'll be worth your time.
Michael, took a good look into dotCMS. Looks very nice. The only downfall is ti is Java based. I really do not want to learn or have the time to learn a new programming language. Can you elaborate on the flexibility issue. The other person mentioned this also. What are the actually issues that you came across that Joomla could not do that dotCMS could do?
I barely know spit about Java (well, I know more now, because I've wanted to do some crazier stuff). Do you think everyone who uses Joomla or Wordpress knows PHP? The language it's written in is only barely important, unless you have big plans for advanced integration with other systems. I didn't know line one of Java before we got dotCMS. Everything I've learned has been because I wanted to, not because I had to to use the software. Just something to keep in mind.

Joomla's issues for me, besides usability for our users, were many. It's templating system wouldn't be able to meet our needs on even it's best day. It might have changed since then, but the way it determined templates based on menu structure was just flat out weird and really hurt what we could do with a site. It handles a baseline site fine, but we deal with too many exceptions: Department A wants to change this, Department B needs this over here, etc. As such there was also no way to effectively control permissions down to a granular level we would have needed to allow users to do tasks without getting in the way of other things (even if just on accident). Joomla is also a one install per site deal. If you run a dozen sites, you have a dozen Joomla installs to maintain. I could run a hundred sites in dotCMS if I wanted to, under a single install.

dotCMS won the permission battle, the templating battle, the customization battle, the scalability battle, and the usability battle.
Yes, I agree that some people do not know PHP at all that use Joomla. But as a web programmer first, I learned PHP to be able to create and alter the Joomla templates, create or alter the plugins, the modules etc. . Also, just to be able to understand how Joomla works and to be able to write PHP code and to understand MySQL databases allows me to customize my Joomla websites. So if we went with dotCMS, I would have to learn Java, bottom line.

Any other suggestions or comments from others?
Thanks so much to Michael, Chris and Justin for their time and input.
Greatly appreciated guys.
Joomla had three major issues and one minor issue that turned us to Joomla. First was content organization you cannot arrange content as intricately with Joomla as you can with Drupal. The second was the lack of ACL (I do know this is supposed to be fixed, however it isn't there yet). Finally, CCK and Views allows for a level of development with Drupal that Joomla just can't match without writing a whole lot of new code.

As for the minor issue, after reviewing the code base of both products Drupal's code seemed to often be cleaner more friendly to someone who is new to the project.

As for the community, both have incredible communities and I found support for each to be readily available. In the end it was the current flexibility, and the code itself that won us over. One nice thing about an open-source CMS though is that you're never completely stuck with it and if the table turns so might the software on our servers.
Excellent advice. As a small junior college here in North Texas, funds are limited. So the first round of CMS to look at will be the free open source kind. Thanks again for the advice about Joomla. I have used Joomla many times for smaller businesses in my freelance work, so Joomla would be my CMS of choice. But since I am starting a new job here at the school and never worked for a higher ed school before, I seek the advice of more experienced people. Thanks to everyone for their input.
If you have the hands-on experience with Joomla, then I would recommend that you go with what you know (even though both Drupal and dotCMS are very nice in their own right).

Before working at the junior college I am at now, I had never worked in higher ed before, so I was in your position (that was only 3.5 years ago for me).

Fortunately for me, my administration saw the need to implement a CMS that could grow with our school, site, users, etc., and they were willing to invest in the OmniUpdate OU Campus CMS. Non-technical users love it...plain and simple.

It's not free, but it allows you to be as technical or non-technical as you want to be, and the company is second to none in supporting their users.

In my experience as the only web person on staff for our institution, time is at a premium for me, and adding one more administrative task (such as managing the stability, security, patching, etc. that comes with an open source CMS) was not an option, and frankly, the time spent performing those duties equated to the cost of OU Campus on an annual basis.

Lastly, if you already have an environment in which you can workly quickly and efficiently (such as Joomla), then go with what you know.
Justin, just got through with an OmniUpdate CMS demo. The application is unbelievable. It is awesome. If we had the money we would right the check right there. What is cool about the company is they are trying to work with us. I think that this speaks highly of the company and their customer service base. Yes, these companies are all trying to sell their systems but this company was the only one to offer to work with us. What is really cool about the system is even though it is written in Java, I can still use my PHP and ASP.NET programming skills as the system can allow the use of other languages. So I can write custom scripts in my programming languages and they will work with the system.
Im using Dnn Which once you have got your head around some of the instalation issues, its great! give us a shout if you have any questions?



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