Comparison Between Open Source CMS Systems and Commercial Open Source Systems

Updated: May 25, 2010

Wordpress... usable beyond blogging?

It is widely accepted that Wordpress is an excellent system when you want your ideas out quickly on the web. It is therefore often used as a blog, because you are out there quickly, but Wordpress can be configured in many different ways. Wordpress is extremely easy to use and setup. It can of course work as a blog, comments are already built into the system, as well as pinging services, multiple blogger profiles, trackbacks and common features you might expect from a blog. Most of the functionality is out of the box, and works as expected without the need of customization. But the fact that customization was not the key driver for Wordpress, also is to a certain extend its limitation. Because very often, if you try to customize or you try to do different things with the system, causes it break or disappear altogether. Wordpress is far from being developer friendly and too many times upgrades to the system causes your website to simply disappear as well along with the upgrade and the customization and modifications you made are no longer available.

Wordpress Advantages

  • Very easy to use and few modifications are needed
  • Excellent for blogging or sharing thoughts in a sequential manner
  • Easy learning curve, also for the not so sophisticated users

Wordpress Cons

  • Not developer friendly
  • The community seems to like to complain
  • Upgrades bring more bugs than fixes

Drupal … can it be used by non-developers?

If you enjoy tweaking the code that makes up the framework of a website, then Drupal is probably for you. This advanced content management system is more a developer platform than a traditional CMS. Its not to say that only developers can use the system though, but to say that they will feel more at home here than in the other two. Interestingly, being more developer friendly does not automatically make it more user friendly - in fact the developer has to work hard to make it that way if they need the end-product to do so.

For those that are not so developer-minded, this can be the trial of their lives, but for people who live in code - well, they can literally get lost developing some very cool websites. Being in essence a development platform and if you are a developer and are willing to learn the ins and outs of the proprietary system, you can surely make great websites with Drupal. But you will have a hard time make it look and feel the same way as it function. The underlying technology is perfect, the usability and the design is far from being perfect. So in a lot of cases, you could end up with a perfectly working website, but that is difficult to use and is not very neat in its design.

Drupal Advantages

  • Extremely developer friendly, but you need to engage in proprietary Drupal code.
  • Strong community to help discern the dozens (hundreds) of functions and tags available.
  • Can be used to create some really awesome websites that can outperform a majority of other sites out there.

Drupal Cons

  • Not very designer and user-friendly. It's hard for someone with little code knowledge to make the leaps required to do the very cool things that Drupal is becoming known for.
  • Theming of Drupal has been a huge case of failure. Themes are made by developers, not designers
  • Getting a Drupal website published could cost you more time, and thus more money, than Wordpress or Joomla and certainly compared to commercial open source software like WebriQ.

Joomla - a community of web builders!

Joomla means in Swahili (Urdu) "all together" and to a certain extend they have been living up their name of being a system that is end-user friendly, developer friendly and also takes care of the design of your website and the way a content management system should work. Designers will choose Joomla because of the amazing capabilities that its engine has in making websites look fantastic. Newcomers to Joomla (and website management) will love the fact that it is very easy to use and even customize as more and more developers create tools that are easier to understand. Developers, likewise, will choose the system because of its large capacity for development and customization. The new MVC framework was built just so that anyone with the knowledge could override the core of the CMS without actually modifying the original code.

But it is not as flexible for developers as Drupal is and it not as user-friendly as Wordpress. It can not run multisites from one backend database, and parts of the system have to be taken as is and can not be customized or modified. In other words, you need lo learn the limitations as you are sometimes caught in between a developers platform and modules that are in essence self-contained. Joomla claims to be user friendly, and to a certain extend it is, but you need to go through a leaning curve of Joomla specific proprietary code and unless you are a developer or a designer or both, that willingness is often lacking. So, trying to be the all together for the web site building community, Joomla has also the risk of being caught in between Drupal and Wordpress. People who want simplicity will go to Wordpress, and through developers who love to develop and code will go for Drupal.

Joomla Advantages

  • Friendly for most types of users - Designers, Developers and Administrators, but not Content Managers or end-users.
  • Huge community is awesome for assisting with creation of websites
  • Has been rapidly growing and improving itself for the past years

Joomla Cons

  • Still not user-friendly enough for everyone to understand
  • Not quite as powerful as Drupal, and can be a bit confusing for some to jump into
  • Recently rebuilt the entire system from ground-up, and so there are still many out there sticking to the old versions.

WebriQ - commercial open source platform that is setting new standards in web site building

Open source cms systems like Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla are build by a community of developers and have as such never the end user in perspective. Commercial open source platforms are using the same open source tools as Joomla or Drupal but they have a strong leniency towards service and servicing the end-user, being the owner of the website and the viewer, being the customer of a particular website.
The major advantage of this approach is the total service aspect - from a neat design platform, over a richly featured content management system where you can activate all types of content and modules in just minutes, over a hosting service for your created websites and a Hotline to help you in case you get stuck in the design or the implementation of a module.

The biggest advantage of commercial open source platforms is the time to market and the implementation time for your website. Once you have a design (which is basically a PSD File) or once you have picked one of the many available standard templates, implementation time for the standard modules is a matter of hours. Even more complicated modules like the shopping cart can be configured in days and be online within a week, not weeks.
Implementation cost, cost of ownership and implementation risks are quite reasonable because of the modularity of the design and the content management modules.

And it is the best of all worlds: captive and easy to use design module, fully featured online content management system and extremely user friendly for administrators, content managers and content contributors. And all that without the need to enter in to the code. One of the major trends in site building and content management these days is the de-mystification of the content management system and the site developing activities.

Anyone who has information to share on the web want to do it instantaneously and want to do it without going to external sources. Commercial open source software like WebriQ play very well in this arena, because of the extreme attention to third party content input, the easy of activating a host of modules for content generation and a suite of application driven Templates, all customizable by users and content managers who have no underlying knowledge of web coding.
It is also a bit of a contradiction that open source systems like Joomla and Drupal are using special or specific coding to create Templates and web sites, and become therefore proprietary software, and that commercial open source software has a tendency to stick to widely-spread standards like HTML and CSS to create templates and build and manage web sites. It is therefore much easier to gain knowledge, also as a non-developer on commercial open source platforms as the knowledge of standards like HTML and CSS are widely spread and widely documented in online and offline publications. In another article, I will further elaborate on certification issues when dealing with a proprietary, though open source platform versus a "standards based" commercial open source platform.

WebriQ Advantages

  • Friendly for all types of users - Designers, Developers and Administrators, Content Managers or end-users.
  • Standard HTML and CSS coding
  • Time to market for a Complete WEB System
  • Complete Commercial open source SaaS (software as a Service) platform
  • Total service concept, including Hosting, Training ,and Helpdesk
  • Third Party Certified VARS and Partners who specialize in Business Niches
  • One Platform for all Needs
  • Leverage existing expertise without having to Retrain or Lose Training Investment
  • Changes Focus from Development to Business Growth Goals
  • Commercial Open Source eliminates Indemnification concerns for Enterprise Customers

WebriQ Cons

  • No access to the open source code
  • Community of designers is growing steadily
  • Developers and Designers have to Re-Think in terms of Business Drivers - not Code or Modules. Change from Code Technology to Business Technology.
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