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Ishar Ahmad

Blogging software or other Content Management Systems

INFO 300


Overview


Behind every beautfiul website, a lot of background work is done. How are websites managed and changed? The awnser is through a content management system, otherwsie known as a CMS. A CMS is a software application or set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content ("CMS" Rouse). A CMS allows a user to input data, store it in a database, allows authorized users to edit it, and display the content to the public (Winters). CMS systems were fist impleented in the early to mid 1990's but they were only implemented for the big-budget websites such as Amazon.com due to their expensive costs and non-user friendly C++ programming. In 1995, the first open-source (free) CMS was created for the Portland Pattern Repository (Winters). The program was named "Wiki-Wiki," Hawaiian for "quick and easy." The creation of the language PHP in 1995, however, is what really took advanced the idea of CMS to another level. PHP is a dynamic HTML engine known for allowing users to make dynamic and interactice websites (Winters). The development of this language allowed for the appearance of PHP-based CMS' from 1995-1999, such as PHPWiki and PHPNuke. However, thse were mostly of interest to techies and not the common people. Most of the CMS developed right before the 21st century remained for well-funded companies using proprietary software such as Oracle databases (Winters). When PHP 4.0 was released in 2000, everything changed. This version of PHP was vastly improved, and shortly after this LAMP was created. LAMP consits of four components: a free stable operating system (Linux), a free web server (Apache), a free backend database (MySQL), and a free easy to laern HTML generator (PHP) (Winters). These four components provided a well-intergrate package for web developers to manage complex sites at very little cost and without years of experience (Winters). The developments of LAMP opened the door for open-source web development, and user-friendly CMS programs began to appear with most of them using LAMP combination. Today, millions of sites use the LAMP configurationand proprietary systems are not as much used by the average user. Today people can create websites with the power of a system that used to need millions of dollars invested in it to create just twenty years ago. But how are non-experienced users able to seamlessly make these complex websites?

Technical Brief


These are two uses for content management systems: enterprise content management system (EC) and web content management system (WCM). They are similar, both facilitating collaborative authoring for websites, but an ECM typically remain behind the company's firewall application (CMA) and content delivery application (CDA). The CMA is a graphical user interface (GUI) which allows the user to control the creation and make modifications and changes to the website as needed. The CDA provides the behind the scenes support which helps manage and deliver the content once it has been created in the CMA ("LAMP" Rouse). A CMS installs itself onto the hosting account and comes with pre-set templates and tools, so all the user has to do is update the content (Kubik). When one updates the content through a CMS dashboard, he or she is interacting with the database through the GUI, allowing the user to control almost all content elements of the website. MySQL is usually used as the database of choice when running a CMS, but other databases can be used such as Microsoft SQL server. CMS systems became popular because of how user friendly the system is, allowing a user to "maniuplate database information, template files and design styles without having to understand code or how a database work" (Kubik). A useful element that many CMS systems implement is WYSIWYG, or "what you see is what you get." In this system, the text area allows the user to change HTML without having to know how to code (Kubik). However, not every CMS system works exactly the same from the user's end.

There are many different CMS systems that have differing strenghts and weaknesses. Choosing the right CMS system for a project or task may be difficult, and a number of considerations need to be taken into place. Usability is the most important thing, and a good CMS enables a user to make changes to a site in a quick and efficient way without having to know how to code. At VCU University Relations (the place where I intern), the Digital Services team uses TERMINAL4 as the primary CMS system. It is a strong system for the most part, using a WYSIWYG interface that makes it easy for a user to make changes to a website effortlessly and without going into the code of the site. However, a lot of employees still complain about TERMINAL4, or T4 because it has a lot of lagging issues with some pages and changes take up to several minutes to load. The employees complain that they are preferred when the websites were supported by Wordpress. Wordpress is the most widelt used and popular CMS system for beginners just learning how to work with websites, and its' excellent documentation and super-quick installation wizards make it favorable (Stansberry). Like T4, Wordpress employs a WYSIWYG editor. Another strong feature of the newer versions of Wordpress employs WYSIWYG editor. Another strong feature of the newer versions of Wordpress is that they auto-update the core and the plugins from the backend without having to download any files (Stansberry). Because Wordpress is so popular among developers, there is a strong community of Wordpress users and Wordpress thus has the widest base of plugins and themse to choose from. Lastly, because of how strong the Wordpress community is, there are so many help resources and documentation available onlie on almost every aspect of customizing Wordpress.

With so many CMS systems out there, many businesses today employ CMS' to help with their website news. There are many advantages and reasons as to why a business or practice would take advantage of a CMS. A huge reason is there is less duplication of information when you use a CMS, as all of the work and changes you have done to the site are right there on the CMS. This saves time and money for the company required for site mainteneance (Layton). Advanced CMS systems can also help companies on the non-development side of things. A lot of CMS systems now come with built-in features, like online surveys which can help the company keep track of analytics and marketing initiatives (Layton). On the data side of things a CMS system greatly improves capabiliies because data such as documents, research, pictures, movies, etc. can be stored in the CMS and be made readily available for the business' clients and potential clients (Layton). Lastly, CMS systems help businesses the most on the communications side of things. Employing a strong CMS system allows a user to effortlessly update their site, keeping their information as up to date for customers and clients. Improving the website for the client or customer increases their satisfaction, as they are able to flow through a well-structured website with up to date information (Layton). Coordination between various departments in the business are also streamlined through a CMS as each part of the business can update information to their website easily, keeping the flow of information up to date and efficeint. CMS systems alrady greatly improve a company's outcomes, and with even more advancements in place for futuer CMS systems, companies may see even more benefits.

The furure of CMS systems may see a number of dramatic changes. According to Dean Barker, author of "Web Content Management: Systems, Features, and Best Practices," CMS systems are going to implement "true multichannel publishing where web is just one of the channels; one system to publish into ten different channels" (Barker). Another interesting advancement that could take place with CMS systems is the implementation of NoSQL technology. NoSQL is a database created to provide a mechanism for storage and retrieval of data for big internet companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon (Ismail). Accodring to an article written by the VP of Business Development for Ingenuix David Hillis, having a NoSQL based CMS can provide a lot of improvements for CMS systems. The biggest improvement with a NoSQL CMS is that is the content is document based, not relational. All of the realted content is stored as a single document and changes to the document can be made more quickly, as supposed to a relational database that stores content into tables and columns and is normalized (Hillis). The content is structured so that there is no relationship to how it is displayed in the webpage but is rather structured with "tags and categories and contains metadata about the content itself" (Hillis). This created a single source for all content forms across the business, from websites, social networks, mobile devices, etc. In general NoSQL databases would have much lower scaling costs than relational databases. A relational database needs to be continuously scaled up, requiring a complex server in terms of size and performance. A NoSQL database, on the other hand, can be installed on standard servers and easily scales out data as performance requirements increase (Hillis).

Web development has come a long way. Content management systems have made life easier for developers and normal people looking to make a website. It streamlines efficiency fro businesses by organizing information, keeping customer relations strong, and saves times and money resources. Different CMS systems have different capabilities and each business should consider which systems best meets their needs. NoSQL databases may shift change the future of CMS technology. CMS technology has placed web developent on a whole different spectrum from 20 years ago, and there is no lookig back.

Semantic markup


Semantic markup describes using a word that is properly aligned with the meaning of the word. In terms of HTML, it means having the elements conveying some information about the content contained between the opening and closing tags. Semantic markup requires that HTML elements be used according to their intended purpose and that content and presentation are seperated. Using semantic markup means using HTML tags correctly so that the markup is both human-readale and machine readable.

The United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has an amendment called Section 508 which applies to electronic and information technology procured by the federal government. It contains technical criterai specific to various types of technologies and performance-based requirements which focus on functional capabilites of covered products. There are specific criteria which cover software applications and operating systems, web-based systems, web-based information and applications, computers, telocommunications products, video and multi-media, and self-contained closed products.

"SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine's unpaid results - often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "earned" results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users, and these visitors can be converted into customers. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines."

Work Cited

Barker, Deanne. Interview by Perttu Tolvanen. North Patrol, 11 Nov. 2013, https.://northpatrol.com/2013/11/11/future-present-and-history-of-cmss-as-told-by-cms-expert-deane-barker/. Accessed 08 Dec. 2016.

Hillis, David. "NoSQL: The Future of Web Content Management?" CMS Wire. 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

Http://facebook.com/jonpenland. "Semantic Markup." HTTP.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2016

Ismail, Kaya. "How NoSQL Is Disrupting Web Content Management." CMS Critic. 17Nov. 2015. Web. 08. Dec. 2016.

Kubik, Kalen. "How does a Content Management System (CMS) Work?" 360ideas. N.p., 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

Layton, Sarid. "What is a Content Management System (CMS)?" Treefrog Inc. n.d. Web. 8 Dec 2016.

Rouse, Margaret. "Content Management System (CMS)." SearchSOA. TechTarget, 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

"Search Engine Optimization - Wikipedia." Wikepedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.

Stansberry, Glen. "Top 10 Most Usable Content Management Systems." Code EnvatoTuts. N.p, 27 Aug. 2009. Web. 08 Dec. 2016

Winters, Jonah. "What Is a Content Management System?" Bahai Library Online, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

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Yanchulis, Dave. "About the Section 508 Standards." United States Access Board. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.