The CM Files
Here are the collected posts about content management from almost 11 years of Gadgetopia.
There’s quite a bit of information architecture and general development stuff thrown in as well. My threshold for inclusion was that it was an original post (not just a link to something else) and that I thought: “If I work with content management, would this interest me?”
In the end, I cast a pretty wide net.
In reading these, please be careful to note the dates. Some of them date to more than a decade ago. Some of them are naive and maybe even a little adorable. My thinking evolved over the years, and I may have changed my perspective about various subjects in later posts.
— Deane Barker
April 27, 2015
Since I don’t feel there’s a good, all-encompassing name out there for this, I’m going to attempt to invent one – Content Integration encompasses the philosophy, theories, practices, and tools around the re-use and adaption of content from our core repository into other uses and channels, or vice-versa: the creation and ingestion of content from […]
November 12, 2014
Often you need to import AND update content, rather that just simply imported it. This makes tasks of content integration so much easier.
June 1, 2014
When people say they want workflow, they probably don’t.
May 20, 2014
There is NO benefit to you in being talked into using a custom CMS which is hosted and controlled by a web development shop.
April 7, 2014
The title is accurate.
March 31, 2014
One of the problems with working in digital is that we tend to think we invented everything. We sit around and imagine we’re breaking amazing new ground, when we’re often just retreading ground that was broken long before. Consider the much-ballyhooed discipline of “content modeling” (a phrase which I admittedly use freely). This used to […]
March 19, 2014
When writing about the white paper I wrote for Movable Type, I suddenly realized that I failed to post this, which is the video of the talk I did for the Movable Type Idea Exchange in NYC last fall. This is a recap of the talk I have at Drupalcon in Portland in May 2013. […]
March 18, 2014
Late last year, I spoke at the Movable Type Idea Exchange. I was thrilled to do this because I have a long history with Movable Type – this blog ran on it for almost a decade, and I was huge in the MT community back in the early 2000s. After the conference, sitting around over […]
September 12, 2013
Reasons why content geography — meaning the spatial relationship of content to other content — is a proportionately more powerful way to model content then a simple, discrete content property.
August 29, 2013
Content is a subset of information, and — consequently — content management professionals comprise a subset of information professionals. Here’s why I count myself among them.
August 13, 2013
The content management strategist slots in neatly between content strategy and a CMS implementation.
July 12, 2013
Good content management developers constantly work to increase their empathy and perspective. Here are five ways to do that.
June 24, 2013
CMS gets re-written from scratch more than any other genre of software. Here are three reasons why.
June 15, 2013
Separating content from presentation is harder and more murky than you think. Here are some thoughts from a white paper about the topic.
February 21, 2013
The development of a CMS tends to get bogged down in the wrong issues. We need to extend CMS along marketing lines, not technical lines. The lack of this painfully evident in the open-source CMS space.
January 1, 2013
Reusing content across multiple channels is the Holy Grail of content management. But it’s not that simple. For certain types of content, it’s very hard to do without alienating your audience.
December 13, 2012
Comparing different systems in the CMS space is far more complicated than it seems at first glance. Here’s some reasons why.
December 12, 2012
Does organizing content in some larger geography have value? Do users want it organized this way? Does it have any inherent value over “standard” metadata?
December 12, 2012
You’re not just buying a CMS, you’re buying into the community around it. Buyers (and vendors) need to pay attention to the state of their community a lot more than they usually do.
November 29, 2012
Django and Rails are notably absent from the boxed CMS space. There are specific reasons why, and — in a larger sense — why platforms with strong frameworks tend to limit this growth.
October 1, 2012
Making your content strategy work with your CMS is tricky. Often it comes down to issues of content assembly. Capabilities in this space vary greatly.
September 10, 2012
Having a comprehensive index of content is a base requirement of a CMS. This limits what can really be considered a “CMS” and what can’t.
August 27, 2012
The label of “page-based” is normally used as a pejorative in the world of CMS. Here’s why it matters less than you might think it does.
August 23, 2012
When you send out an RFP, you are asking something of the people who respond. It’s good manners to fulfill your end of the bargain.
August 22, 2012
The support required of a CMS varies greatly, and there’s a blurry line between “support” and “consulting.”
August 22, 2012
Hourly rates for integrators are largely a pointless metric on which to evaluate them.
August 18, 2012
Here’s why firms that strike up partnerships with every vendor are probably not the firms you want to work on your project.
August 17, 2012
Bidding CMS projects is hard. Doing it honestly is even harder.
August 16, 2012
Some CMS try to remove or limit the use of files in their development. This is corrupting one of the basic tenets of web development, and it will make developers hate you.
July 7, 2012
When someone says “migration” in the context of a CMS project, stop everything and make them define exactly what they’re talking about.
June 17, 2012
Organizational communication is about dynamic rivers of content, not static trees.
June 15, 2012
The idea of SaaS CMS is largely obsolete. Whether a CMS is SaaS or not is largely a question of business model.
June 7, 2012
CMS falls into a spectrum of what is a “product” and what is a “platform.” This debate has been going on for a decade now, and will likely never be resolved.
May 12, 2012
URLs are not absolute. There are a million shades of gray, and canonicals were invented to resolve this. Use them.
February 25, 2012
Linking pages in a CMS to each other can be more complicated than you think. You have to ensure you’re link to content, not URLs, and you have to maintain a record of these links, for a variety of reasons.
February 21, 2012
Having a separate index of CMS content, structured for optimal querying, can help you solve a lot of sticky problems.
November 26, 2011
The classic “feature matrix” of RFPs is a terrible way to measure a capabilities of a CMS. The support of a particular feature in a CMS is rarely a yes/no question.
August 22, 2011
Content structure is achieved at a variety of levels — structure within a property, structure withing a content object, structure between different content objects, etc.
August 14, 2011
Vendors support of content management is hard because each boxed CMS is coupled with a custom integration, and it’s difficult to assign blame when something goes wrong.
July 28, 2011
The common patterns of writing RFPs is especially poor when it comes to content management. There are several specific things you can do to get better responses.
July 17, 2011
One of the highest manifestations of content structure is the overhead “geography” that content gets organized into.
July 7, 2011
Once considered a competitive advantage, content management has largely become the normal. The idea of not using a CMS is almost archaic, so discussion of “the benefits of content management” are increasingly irrelevant.
May 15, 2011
Once considered a norm, the concept of a separate “content staging environment” has slipped into disuse. It still has some advantages, but the alternative — a live, “virtual” staging environment — probably has more.
May 10, 2011
Content “management” and content “delivery” have diverged into two separate concepts. The disciplines used are different, and I argue that it won’t be long before vendors start splitting off their delivery suites from their management suites.
April 11, 2011
Every CMS tries, in some extent, to duplicate the classic model of the relational database. Some come closer than others to this “ideal.”
March 26, 2011
Originally, content management repositories were separated from the publishing layer. This line has blurred over the years, and there are numerous models that combine aspects of both decoupled and “active” delivery tiers.
March 9, 2011
Drag-and-drop page composition has become a key selling feature of content management in recent years. It’s impressive, certainly, but useful is it, in reality?
March 4, 2011
One of the biggest problems in implement content management inside an organization is getting employees to accept that this is the “one true solution” in which they should put their faith.
November 18, 2010
Knowledge management requires you to ask some very basic question about how you plan to turn knowledge into content in which to be managed.
October 16, 2010
Content management systems thrive on consistency, which gives you a very roundabout benefit — you can use it as a “bad cop” to force people in your organization to be more consistent about their content.
September 5, 2010
Over the last decade, content management has become increasingly focused on the web. However, in this world of true multi-channel publishing, the web is just one of many channels, and its time CMS vendors made their repositories less web-specific.
September 4, 2010
“Web Experiement/Engagement Management” is the latest trend in content management, but I have a fear that vendors will focus on it to the detriment of another, equally important parts of their systems.
August 21, 2010
With all the channel options available for content publishers, the “web developer” may be giving way to a more general “content developer.”
August 14, 2010
Content is not isolated in its presentation — it’s often presented with other information that is somehow related to it. Modeling and managing these relationships can be harder than you think.
July 24, 2010
We tend to develop templates with a “hole” for where “the content will go.” However, we ignore what happens in that hole — what specific tools editors will be given to manage what happens in their “hole.”
June 13, 2010
Web content delivery is becoming so complex and important that it’s deserving of a system all its own that aggregates, harmonizes, and enhances content for delivery.
May 19, 2010
Incorporating applications and other non-content functionality in your website in easier when you use a proxy content object to represent it.
May 16, 2010
A graphical look at all the different ways the EPiServer admin interface can be customized. A good example of customization options you might want or need for your installation
May 14, 2010
When you have a “pure” crumbtrail — one that is based on a page’s position in the larger content geography and nothing — problems can result. It’s easier if you abstract this, and other navigation, away from the content structure.
May 7, 2010
There are a few things that CMS vendors do that make some systems very hard to develop with, including the confusion of content files with code files.
January 24, 2010
The term “metadata” is abused when it comes to web content management. In most cases, metadata does not actually exists apparently from “first order” data, and thus the term has lost all relevancy.
January 3, 2010
Concepts of “the best CMS” are only valid in the face of actual requirements.
December 24, 2009
When learning a new CMS, there are a set of core questions I ask of it. Vendors should concentrate on those questions and being able to provide quick wins for new adopters.
June 21, 2009
With structured content, concepts of “metadata” can be confusing and irrelevant.
April 11, 2009
As content moves “beyond the web page,” we need to start handling it in such a way that it lends itself better to multi-channel publishing.
April 5, 2009
In the platform vs. product debate, different people see different things. In order to successfully sell CMS, you have to understand how the prospect is looking at it.
April 4, 2009
Content management vendors like having partnerships with integrators. Here’s why it works (or doesn’t work) for either side.
February 20, 2009
Discussion of an example of content aggregation, or the ability to raw in content from disparate sources and present it as part of a unified system.
February 17, 2009
Getting content out of a system is just as imporant as putting it in — a truth that gets sadly neglected by a lot of CMS vendors.
February 15, 2009
A discussion of how an obsession with a certain form of CMS architecture can make us blind to alternative forms.
November 1, 2008
Content management systems should include an API for filtering a bucket of content, obtained through any means
August 15, 2008
Content management should be treated as a practice, transcendent of any particular language or platform.
August 15, 2008
Some content management situations don’t require a full-blown CMS. Rather, they required “content-oriented” management of data, which integrates into a larger system.
April 21, 2008
In any CMS implementation, you invariably end up with a generic “text page” other, more structured, pages. What is the dividing line between these pages, and how could it be more effectively handled?
April 5, 2008
Menuing and navigation in content management can be handled explicitly, where navigation is its own subsystem, or implicitly, where navigation is built based on the content structure. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
March 27, 2008
Handling structured, one-off pages in a CMS can be complicated. This is a discussion of two of the common patterns — composite pages and embeddable content — and the pros and cons of each.
December 7, 2007
The decision of when to structure content or not can be subjective. This is an example of one such situation, and the pros and cons of the various methods.
November 24, 2007
All of the disciplines put under the “content management” moniker can actually be split into four distinct groups.
October 2, 2007
A good CMS is built from the API out, not the interface in.
June 30, 2007
Comprehensive post discussing the most common features found in content management systems today.
June 21, 2007
Often, a binary file needs to be bound to a specific content item, and needs to “live” in the context of that item.
May 20, 2007
The ability to organize content into trees consistent of parent-child relationshps is a core feature of content modeling, and resolves so many modeling patterns
November 28, 2006
Some content management features are “out of the box,” while some are developed during integration. Which pattern is better than the other, and why?
October 15, 2006
Content management can do a lot, but there’s a lot that it won’t do, and you need to understand this before you implement. This is a reality check on the problems content management is not going to solve for you.
June 30, 2006
Different content management systems publish content in different ways. This is a discussion of the three major patterns.
June 24, 2006
Not every CMS editor needs access to all CMS functionality, and often this access can be confusing. In many cases, to pays to “channel” the interface down to just the functionality a particular role needs to see.
June 10, 2006
By concentrating on the different “views” a content object may have, you can simplify your content templating considerably.
May 31, 2006
Content modeling “inside” a single content object is generally quite simple. What’s trickier is content modeling between multiple content objects.
May 23, 2006
The interface you interact with when using your CMS is only part of the picture. You need to be concerned with the API that lies under that interface as well.
May 19, 2006
Theoretical functionality is all the things a CMS can do. Actual functionality is the stuff you’re actually going to use. There’s a big difference.
April 28, 2006
Most content creators have a lack of basic formatting skills, making it difficult to have them create well-rendered content.
January 30, 2006
Image handling in content management can be complicated, but the first step is abstracting the image that appears in your finished content from the file that it’s based on.
January 20, 2006
Content management system often deride static HTML. However, static files are necessary in some cases, and we discuss some patterns for integrating them into an otherwise content-managed site.
January 6, 2006
When you migrate content into your new CMS, you go through an awkward period much like building a house with no furniture in it. It pays to minimize this period by testing some furniture out as soon as possible.
December 15, 2005
Many smaller projects need a single table of managed data in an otherwise static website. What’s the best way to handle these situations?
December 7, 2005
We tend to think of content management as being used to manage content that will be consumed by people outside our organization. However, it can be used for purely internal content as well.
December 3, 2005
This is an explanation of why just adding “custom fields” to a blogging platform doesn’t necessarily turn it into a CMS.
November 27, 2005
A CMS should be able to solve content-related problems without me having to write code to support it.
November 23, 2005
There needs to be a way to reconcile content management and static HTML.
October 28, 2005
Disparate content ideas need to be drawn together into a cohesive whole through topic pages.
August 19, 2005
A case study example on the seperation of content and presentation channels.
August 4, 2005
CMS don’t need to have an intimate knowledge of the content they’re managing. Rather, they just need to know that they’re managing content in general, and leave the specifics to the implementation.
July 21, 2005
Tagging is simply categorization under a different name with a simpler interface.
June 28, 2005
An intelligent URL scheme has usability and technical benefits.
June 13, 2005
Tagging invariably leads to problems with standardization and hierarchical classification. A tagging structure can slowly morph into a taxonomy, with the same inherent problems.
March 19, 2005
I get irrationally stressed out about querystring arguments. Here’s why.
August 15, 2004
When content can be assigned to more than one taxonomy node presents a logical crumbtrail issue.
July 24, 2004
In a non-versioning system (CMS or otherwise), user interface bugs can lead to data loss more easily than you think.
July 17, 2004
You don’t have to display content in the same architecture in which you manage it.
February 18, 2004
A CMS that interferes too much with the display and rendering of content can drive you nuts.
September 22, 2003
Content can be temporal or permanent. Which type it is has impact on how it’s handled.
September 19, 2003
We have enough platforms and enough technology. Let’s use what we have to build things.
September 1, 2003
When it comes to RSS, many people think that content usability just doesn’t matter anymore.
July 14, 2003
An absurd analogy: content management is like a marriage in so many ways.
July 1, 2003
Gadgetopia struggled for years with IA and content organization. This post is a good representation of how I was trying to think through the problem.
June 20, 2003
Different CMS allow you to define your content in different ways.
June 19, 2003
Managing content is hard. Templating it is not. Which side of the equation is delivering the value?
June 5, 2003
In the past, CMS had very obvious URL signatures.