University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Actually I am not a developer but I have started working as a web project leader in a newly-established university.

At the moment we have a website which is pretty static and we do not have a CMS. We have started working on a project to build a new website to meet our requirements and also choose a cms.

Since I don't have a technical background, I can only relate to what I read on the web. In our IT dept, .net is mostly used but for the website we think of using php.

My research was concentrated on the open-source cms and as far as I get, Drupal and Joomla are pretty good options. Plone seems to be widely used too but I read it is not easy for the developers to solve how to use it. OmniUpdate is targeted at universities specially and it is proprietary but it seems for example Drupal is a better product.

The cms world seems very wide so I feel I am lost a bit. Do you have any advices for me, as in proprietary, open-source and even .net cms products?

I know I sound vague but I used to work in an interactive web agency before and this is my first university experience. So I have just started learning the needs of an university and in this vast sea of cms products, I find it very hard to choose the right products to shortlist.

Thank you very much. :)


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I think sticking with asp .net is going to be the safe solution. Personally I am a PHP developer and use it very customizable. I would say it requires an advanced php developer for developing. But the finished product is easier for the client/teacher/faculty member to use and understand.

Sometimes the features of drupel are its downfall. If you give a user to many choices you can overwhelm them.

Well in short I like
We had started off with Drupal in our minds but as we looked into the whole thing deeper, it seems we are getting more into Silverstripe and Typo3.

But I will also check to see how it is.
I think you guys should consider checking out DotNetNuke (DNN). You mentioned on the 24th of November that most of your IT department are .NET developers with one PHP guy. This wouldn't put a PHP solution right at the top of my list.

With most of your basic requirements are taken care of:
1.) SEO Friendly
2.) Online forms
3.) Password authentication with varying levels of security, the ability to establish roles, and use Active Directory authentication if you already have this system in place
4.). There is a simple newsletter module built in, we use a solution from Onyaktech however that has been working very nicely.
5.) Everything you mention in your Other Requirements is handled by the core installation, no additional modules necessary.

Not to mention that there are hundreds of commercial modules (snap in functionality) available to expand the platform functionality. Also, since the platform is open source you (your IT staff) can develop your own modules to give your site the specific functionality that you need.

We are in the early stages of a DNN implementation at our University. I've worked with DNN for a couple of years now on various projects. I've also worked with Drupal, phpNuke, and Joomla, but I have yet to run across anything with the power, core functionality, and expansiveness of DotNetNuke. It's fully localized and has complete theming or skinning capabilities.

One of the benefits, as I see it, is that the company that develops DNN has recently moved into the corporation realm, they now have funding for development, and while their current plans are to keep their platform free and open source, they will be opening up commercial support for faster response to questions and issues.

Your main expense in launching a DotNetNuke solution will be in your server software as you'll need licenses for MS Windows Server & MS SQL Server 2005. I've read about a database provider that will allow you to run the platform on Windows and Oracle, however, I have not tried it, many changes would have to be made.

I think it is definitely worth your time to look into DotNetNuke to see what you think, if for no other reason than to set up a demo copy.

Good Luck,
Chris G

Commercial Modules:
Chris, thank you very much for the suggestion. I will share it with the IT guys. Can I ask you something? I keep hearing .net is not as flexible as php and it is also harder to apply the design (which will be outsourced to a web agency) to .net than php.

What do you think about this?

P.S I'll be off to Argentina for hols tomorrow and won't be around till 14th, so might not write in this period. Thanks in advance. :)
I've heard it before also, but I have yet to come across an instance where it isn't. With the .NET framework, with the exception actual Windows Interfaces (off the top of my head), you can accomplish nearly every task in ASP.NET that you could if you were writing a Windows desktop application.

The only difference I see in flexibility is what operating system the website is run on. The .NET framework must be run in a Windows environment. PHP can run under Linux or Windows operating systems, which inherently will lower your overall cost for initial setup as Linux is free. The .NET framework is also free, however you'll have to have a license for Windows Server. To develop your own custom modules, you'll need licenses for Visual Studio .NET 2005, but as you mentioned previously your IT department is comprised of primarily .NET programmers, that shouldn't be an issue.

As far as applying the design goes, there is a slight learning curve when it comes to developing skins for the DotNetNuke platform. It is not overly difficult, however, problems can sometimes arise from incorrect HTML in the template, small adjustments (as generally expected) in the stylesheets. If you demo DotNetNuke and decide it is a viable option, you're best bet for skin development is to seek out a company that specializes in DNN skinning. The SnowCovered link I provided in my previous post for commercial modules has a great many prebuilt skins for sale as well, I encourage you to look through them to see who has a style that looks like it would fit your site and possibly contact the developers for a custom solution.

I have also heard of it being a little difficult to apply designs or themes to standard ASP.NET websites, I believe Microsoft has their own theming engine, this is not necessarily the case with DotNetNuke as it comes with it's own "skinning" engine built in, with it's own structure for skins.

Hope this helps,
Thanks for the fast answer. For the design bit, it is hard to find an agency that develops skins for DNN.
I am in Turkey, so it is not feasible to get support from abroad. And the web agencies here mostly concentrate on campaigns, advergames etc. Most corporate websites don't use a cms and there are a few companies which develop their own cms but that is too risky to choose since there is no way that we will know it will be a good experience working with the agency we choose.

I will still share this option with the guys.

Thanks lots.
Have you guys ever had any experience of Mysourcematrix?

It is (kind of) opensource and it increasingly being picked up over here in the UK - it's certainly something I shall be looking into.
Actually yes we had looked into it as well but it needs an oracle or postgres database and we use php so we had to eliminate it.

We chose Silverstripe at the end.

Cheers :)



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