PHP Content Management Systems
 

Feature:Wealth of PHP BBS and Content anagement Systems
Credit:Imagenation

One of the reasons for PHP's enduring drawing power beyond the feature robustness and its relative coding simplicity has been the availability of numerous well-designed applications. Nowhere has this been more prominent than in the BBS and Content Management field where PHP apps filled a gap created when HTTP and the Internet beat out all the other TCP/IP and other protocol based Bulletin Board Services. The new PHP bulletin boards offered 3 advantages:
  1)the best price of all - free software that nonetheless was constantly improving;
  2)ability to run cross platform - Windows or Linux, IIS or Apache;
  3)Open Source extensibility since PHP/HTML/CSS/MySQL is reasonably modifiable.
And so a flood of PHP BBS and later more general Content Management Systems started to appear on the market. We take stock of those systems based roughly in their order of appearnce on the market place and their continued viability.

PHPBB2

PHPBB2 rose like a meteor in the BBS circles for four main reasons. First,it was dedicated to the Bulletin Board and open discussion forum task first and foremost. No mailing list or online polls and surveys. Discussion forums and their categories were and are still the prime points of business. The second key ingredient has been the the easy and more flexible installation. This is based on using a generalized database connnection and advanced skin or theme based styling. Third PHPBB2 incorporates graphics in the form of smilies, avatars, and CSS styled themes - so that end users can customize their PHPBB2 sessions to their hearts content. Finally, PHPBB2 has lead the charge on helping to secure PHP against hack attacks.

The result is that PHPBB2 has a thriving third party community supplying new modular capabilities and expanding the already extensive theme and skins libraries. PHPBB2 is perfect for use where an organization wants to setup say a Support Forum or a Community meeting place but also wants to apply distinctive styling and graphic touches to the sites look and feel. The underlying database engine and security features will keep the site scalable and relatively secure.

PHPWCMS

PHPWCMS is one of the new breed of Content Management Systems that builds on POstNuke and PHPBB2 ideas for modules, themes, plus clever JavaScript controls. In this case its the use menus, a full functioned text editor (a close approximation of the Microsoft Works word processing editor), and nice use of icons/buttons, tree views and tabs. The UI and panels/pop windows are at your disposal.

Unfortunately, after a stellar faultless install, PHPWCMS showed some teething problems. Consistently the program would balk at some operations and instead of issuing an error message would kick the user out and ask the user to logon on again.As well the modules section is still under construction as of May 2004, This program need perhaps one or two more revisions - and then the wealth of interface options should start to kick in and attract users.

ezContents

ezContents is one of the easiest and smoothest installs of all the PHP CMS systems we have reviewed. And that same same ease carries over to the maintenance side of the product. It is easy to add articles and discussion groups, especially with the very powerful in-browser HTML editor for all content. We had some problems in Mozilla switching the editor from script to WYSIWYG mode and back; but other wise it was responsive and very helpful.

ezContents includes diary, calendar, poll, news, reviews, gallery, guestbook and links as nbasic modules plus a neat menuing system to access these modules plus a effective frame based system to display the results. In addition images can be used throughout, Users have two choices - do simple default placements of images or use the smart HTML editor to control the size and placement of images inthe avilable frame area. This CMS is very polished and only lacks generality in placement and sizing of frames/portlets, styling options plus additional functions such as chat, RSS, events, etc. The other missing link is documentation. Still, ezContents is well worth the time of getting to know.

eZ publish

eZ publish is remarkably similar to ezContent in many respects not the least of which is the easy install process. But also there are some major differences as eZ publish has much better documentation on its website and avaiable in PDF format for download. The good news is that the program allows for wide range of capabilities including use as a Blog, BBS, Gallery site, RSS Feed importer and exporter. The down side is that users will have to read every page of the hundreds to figure out how to do all the things that eZ Publish is capable of doing.

The real problem is that eZ Publish uses dedicated object programming in PHP and this extracts a known large runtime penalty. For example, sites local to my machine with no network latency averaged 4-10seconds to display. The new PHP 5 will go a long way to solving this problem; but it is still a question when eZ publish will move to the new version. When it does developers have a powerful CMS tool at their disposal.

Komplete Lite

Komplete Lite is very promising with features such as WYSIWYG editing, multi-menuing, and a professional backend in Krysalis. Unfortunately, the installer proved to be such a gauntlet to run - asking for half adozen corrections and then having a bug itself (it simply did not pickup the database forms information properly). In sum, wait for the vendor to clean up the install process before trying this promising CMS.

In sum, from this brief overvew of some of the diverse offerings of content management systems, that PHP offers a wide range of CMS tools. Chcek out Hotscripts list of PHP systems and functions for the latest set of CMS goodies.

 
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