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Content Management Systems

Most people prefer to seek simple solutions to complicated problems. This is certainly true in the world of computer software, where a vast and often confusing number of choices exist to assist users with a wide variety of functions. What if someone could develop one computer-based system that would coordinate a bunch of important functions, therefore helping the user by making it as easy as possible to use? Do you think that such a program would be in demand?

The answer is “yes,” and the software packages to be discussed in this article are known as “content management systems.”

So, what does “content management” mean? And how does it help users to simplify their computer-related tasks?

A content management system (CMS) is a program, usually Internet-based, which is used for storing, publishing, updating, and controlling files and documentation through one interface. In other words, it allows a person to perform many different functions within one software package. A CMS helps to create a smoother “work-flow” for its users.

The advantages presented by such a system are obvious. With a Web-based CMS, a large number of contributors can share and manipulate data, then collectively produce a uniform output. The content handled by a CMS can include computer files, images, HTML files, electronic documents — such as those generated in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat PDF formats — and audio/video files.

For a large organization, perhaps one with several locations, utilizing a CMS is the only practical way for employees to effectively process data and communicate results and decisions with one another. Even in smaller firms the desire for a uniform standard of production also calls for a CMS system, although most likely one less sophisticated than used by larger companies.

Many CMS programs employ programming languages like Cold Fusion to interact with stored databases in order to present requested data in a pre-formatted Web page. This prevents having to create a large number of HTML pages; instead one can operate with a few templates to make desired information available to a Web site visitor.

In short, a CMS is a very efficient way to build a communication network through which a potentially large number of people can control stored data. Making the right choice in terms of which CMS to utilize is therefore vitally important for any organization.

There are many kinds of CMS systems, some distributed for free while others are commercial applications costing upwards of $100,000. Among the more expensive examples is the EM3 iOn, a Web-based content management system that allows a company to publish and control large volumes of content for use in multiple Web sites.

One of the most popular areas in which CMS programs are being actively utilized is in the rapidly growing “blog” industry. A large blog distributing company, such as WordPress, has thousands of users – many of whom are relatively inexperienced with computers. To attempt to generate a uniform product without a very effective CMS would be impossible. Through its use, WordPress bloggers are able to quickly produce their own blogs – all of which are filtered through a design template of their choice, thus producing Web sites that are pleasing to the eye and easy to maintain.

“Wiki” software, such as that used by online encyclopedia Wikipedia, is another type of CMS that allows Web pages to be both produced and edited using a common Web browser. It is a very effective way for many people to share information, most of which ends up in the same online locations. Once again, without a CMS such a project would be most likely be doomed to failure.

The future for CMS systems looks bright. The next “big thing” to hit the Internet are so-called “Web 2.0” systems. These are promoted as the “second-generation” of online communities and feature such social-networking sites as and, both of which make it easy for users to communicate and share information over the Web. As these types of sites become more and more sophisticated, yet correspondingly easier for users, it will be a CMS system that makes the whole thing function.

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