Web Content Mavens Recap & Managing Expectations
Scott Mendenhall for February's Web Content Mavens Meetup at R.F.D. Washington pulled together a panel to discuss a handful of open-source web content management systems (CMS), a topic near-and-dear to my heart since I manage several CMS projects here at Viget. Part of our moving forward with a CMS product like ExpressionEngine is that it addresses much of the functionality offline clients typically need. However, like anything that's not a custom development project, EE can't always easily scale to address future developments that require more extensive attention; like integrating with third-party APIs or managing user-generated content without unique hiccups. So, part of me wanted to hear panelists tell me their product is my magic bullet -- something that addresses my clients' initial goals out-of-the-box and will scale easily for future developments like password-protected areas or some other creative customization. Maybe not surprisingly, when I posed the question to the panelists, nearly all of them -- representing Magnolia, Drupal, Joomla!, DotNetNuke, and Alfresco -- said their systems could "handle" the aforementioned challenges I've experienced. On one hand, it comes down to having resources that can extend these systems. Martin Ringlein of nclud was the only panelist to speak to this reality -- probably because he was speaking on WordPress and TextPattern, which were both conceived and implemented to fulfill specific blogging needs in the web community, and therefore don't overtly promise to fluently manage larger scale projects' requirements. But, beyond just having a deep knowledge in extending systems like EE, we (as consultants) arguably more importantly have to set clients' expectations that their future requests may be decidedly harder to implement than the initial site itself. Anyway, the event itself, overall, would have been stronger if panelists discussed the weaknesses of each system so it didn't feel so salesy in tone -- and maybe included a comparison between systems since it ended up sounding like each was just a reproduction of the other, fully capable of leaping tall buildings in single bounds. But kudos to holding it at R.F.D. Washington and creating an atmosphere that encouraged participation.