University Web Developers

University Web Developers

So, for no particular reason, is anyone currently/have experience using Joomla, TYPO3 or WebGUI for their college's wCMS? And would be willing to answer a few questions?  I'd appreciate your time and feedback greatly.

Many thanks,

Colleen

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I don't know much anything about WebGUI. Typo3 is the perfect solution if you hate your users with the fire of 1,000 suns. Joomla if you just need the fire of a single sun.

Ok, let's back up and examine the 1000 suns issue. What in Typo3 was problematic for users (besides "everything")? Was it UI? Workflow permissions? Integrations with templates and styles? Any info is very helpful since it's on a short(er) list right now.

When last I evaluated Typo3 (admittedly not real recently), I found it to be EXTREMELY powerful. However, it was a CMS built by programmers, for programmers, with no consideration whatsoever for unskilled users. There wasn't a user on campus I could name that I would have felt comfortable setting loose in the back end to set up and maintain a site. The UI was heavily data-centric, with little context for how it would be used when published. It was painful to navigate, and ultimately confusing to administer. Joomla had a slightly better UX, but suffered similarly in the "designed by programmers" regard (check out the plugin architecture, for instance - or the way templating and menus work).

Honestly, if you're set on open source, check out dotCMS, Reason, Wordpress (depending on the use case), Drupal (if you can commit support resources), Magnolia, or recently - Big Tree CMS (they are newly enterprise open source, damn curious to have someone look at them closer). 

Great feedback, Fienen -- thanks. We are indeed set on open-source and looked at most of those you mentioned ... Wordpress isn't going to work for us for a variety of reasons, and Drupal is out because of exactly what you cited -- we'll have resources to commit but frankly not as many as Drupal will need from us.

If we reopen the list, dotCMS is one I'll look at again ... haven't heard of BigTree but I'll bring it to the working group.

I haven't used Joomla in probably 6 or 7 years, but if you are seriously looking at it, you're probably going to need to completely rethink the way you envision the architecture of your site. Within Joomla, there are no concepts of parent and child pages; instead, the entire site's architecture relies on which menu you place on each page. That was a deep-seated problem in the original Mambo core that all of Joomla's developers said was impossible to change.

My favorite was how a page's template could change based on what menu you used to get to it - a behavior far more maddening than it was novel and useful.

I also have recollections of murdering puppies while trying to build templates for it.

Yeah, that was definitely the most frustrating thing about using Joomla. I am so glad I didn't stick with it for long.

I used Typo3 with a freelance client a few years back. There we only a few people in the organization and I put together a very minimal 'manual' for them on frequent practices (create/edit content, upload images, etc). The biggest challenge I recall was trying to understand the scripting system for templates and menus. I've been using Drupal for a number of years for other projects.

I haven't found any of the open source CMSes particularly friendly from the 'average user' perspective, particularly when they abstract content away from the 'page' model. Most departmental web maintainers are used to traditional HTML tools (Dreamweaver, Contribute, etc) and think in terms of pages and folders. When you ask them to grapple a more programmer-friendly model (where pages turn into content types/data), expect significant training requirements. And, if the CMS doesn't have a view of the site that's consistent with their prior experience (pages within folders, being able to edit content directly on a page), it further contributes to the confusion.

For what it's worth, I've been working with CMS-based websites in higher ed since 1999, starting with a commercial CMS. In my current environment, we have a commercial CMS that, to a certain extent, supports the folder/page model while offering the benefits of abstraction.

Any CMS is going to require at least one dedicated programmer. You'll also need a helpdesk.

I've used Joomla since 2004 (Mambo at the time) and have deployed nearly 200 sites with it. I built it to support about 100 unskilled content contributors (from secretaries to faculty to student workers) and most were quite happy with it. The current version (2.5.x) is the best so far. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you had about it... I simply love it! (I do have Wordpress sites too.)

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