Content Management as a Marriage

By Deane Barker on July 14, 2003

I got to thinking the other day that the content management field is flooded, especially the open-source systems. Go to sites like,,, etc. and you’ll see hundreds of them. Then, every week, I get notifications that new ones have been released: NetWizard Matrix, and Tiki, and WSW, and this, and that.

I’ve tried very hard to keep track, but there are too many. And there’s so much duplication. Every day a new system comes out that says it’s better than the last one. But is it? Has anyone really broken any new ground in content management in the last two years? We run from system to system like we have CMS attention deficit disorder.

I’m a guilty as anyone – I dutifully dash off a new posting when something new hits the fan. Lately I’m thinking that I’m doing people a dis-service. I feel like I should find one competent system and stick with that, plumbing the depths of it for all it’s worth so that people can move from the superficial layer to something deeper: providing actual value.

I challenge you to pick one system, live with its flaws, celebrate its strengths, but more or less forget about the technical and architectural end of it and instead concentrate on the user at the other end of the keyboard. Focus on delivering him or her actual content. (You remember, the reason we install these system in the first place?)

At the risk of an absurd analogy, it’s like a marriage. You can work the bar scene, hopping from one date to another, which is very exciting and sexy, but it’s all so superficial. You never really get to know any of them. Your time is pre-occupied with the process of getting to know them and their value to you is based on them providing romantic interest.

However, one day, if you’re lucky, you find someone that fits – they may not be perfect, but they fit for the most part – and really get to know them (marry them, even), then you can move to another level where this person catapults you to new areas, and let’s you explore things beyond just romance for the sake of romance.

I’ll say it again, we have enough platforms. We need to stop dating, settle down, and actually do something with our lives.

Comments (2)

Robert Samuel White says:

Hello Deane,

I am the creator of a project you have commented here, and correction is in order. The name of my project is eNetwizard Matrix Server; you have it dubiously listed as NetWizard Matrix, and that is just plain unacceptable. :-)

I’d also like to point out that not all content management systems are the same. And mine is not new! It has been around since 1998.

Furthermore, mine is also unique. It has features unlike any other, commerical or proprietary, and the infrastructure behind it is dramatically different.

As for breaking new ground: You tell me one other system out there that can render and manage an infinite number of domains and websites from a single running copy of its distribution AND generate all of its content from a single point on a server. Furthermore, tell me just one other system out there that has the ability to create website applications on the fly, in infinite number, and infinite instances, for an infinite number of organizations, each with their own data. And then, please, let me know if it can manage all of this for an infinite number of organizations, each with their own users, groups, security policies, and access rights. And please, I’m just dying to know, does any other content management system have awareness when a search engine robot is visiting their site, and able to customize around it so that it only shows what YOU want it to show? And can it show different content for different search engines? And can it change its template and layouts on the fly with a click of a button? And let’s also not forget my content management system has customizable session management principles up to 1024 bit! Name just one other project out there with that capability (most are only 8bit!)

I have a feeling breaking new ground is exactly what I’ve done, and I’d appreciate it if in the future when you decide to group systems together as if their new and probably nothing new, you didn’t misinform anyone by putting my project in that category.

Thank you. :-)

Mike says:

Whoa there... But seriously, you gotta love people that fire off a huge rant and then end it with: “Thank you. :)”