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Types of Content Management Systems

The following overviews examine the advantages and disadvantages of the many web publishing system options available, and show why database-driven content and context management solutions present the best choice for business-scale web development and management.

Policy/procedure-powered content management system (“by-hand-ware”)
A low-tech approach to content management that many organizations start out using is creating policies or procedures for authors and HTML programmers to follow when publishing web pages, for example, style guides. While this approach requires no new technology, it does require a considerable time investment to draft style guides and manually review and edit content. Moreover, this approach is only as effective as the organization’s collective willingness to abide by or enforce its policies.

Authoring/publishing suites
There are a wide variety of web publishing suites that are commercially available such as Microsoft’s FrontPage and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. Most of these offer excellent features and flexibility for building freestanding personal and small business web sites. However, for business-scale sites and management of multiple sites, their very flexibility tends to cause problems by promoting the anarchy model of web development discussed previously. Additionally, they lack the content management features that most business-scale web sites require.

Source code management systems
Source code management systems offer a protocol to check in /check out HTML documents into and from a document repository, thereby limiting simultaneous access to the same document and providing a workflow management system. Scripting platform with content management capabilities Some so-called content management systems are actually scripting languages that offer advanced functionality similar to that of content management systems. While scripting platforms are flexible and powerful, the major drawback is that developers using them must be familiar with the scripting/programming to be able to use them develop a site.

Database-driven, on-the-fly content and context management systems
The best solution for most business-scale web sites, database-driven content and context management systems offer the ability to allow non-technical staff to create, edit, and publish web content or even entire sites; permit collaborative content development, provide a review and approval mechanism to ensure quality control of all publishing; and enable scheduling and expiration of time-sensitive content. Additionally, the content portion of developing a site should be separate from the context (visual design), so that these tasks can be efficiently delegated and worked on independently. The use of templates simplifies page creation to an on-the-fly data entry process.

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