In keeping with the “best of” theme of this site, this entry is about the Open Source Content Management System that I believe to be the best all-around. WebGUI.
WebGUI is almost 100% template driven. When you go to a WebGUI site, you won’t know it right away because it looks just like every other WebGUI site. It is easy to make the site look how you want without breaking the content engine or tweaking source code. There are other solutions available that are also template driven, but I have yet to find one that maintains the ease of use and customizability of WebGUI.
It is powerful, intuitive and development is continuous since the primary developer has created a business out of selling support and can afford to actually spend time developing and improving it. Since WebGUI is Open Source, it also benefits from a great community of developers who actively contribute code to the project.
It’s written in Perl, it was somewhat of a challenge for me to install the first time, but one instance on the server can power multiple sites and upgrades are usually painless. For basic, community driven support, the forums on Plainblack.com are usually very friendly and helpful, if you need more advanced support, you can purchase it.
Once you install WebGUI, you should never have to open your FTP client to edit source files (whether you’re changing the look-and-feel of your site or uploading content), templates or upload images–all this is available from the web based admin interface.
Another reason I really like WebGUI is that it provides a dozens of features “out of the box.” It is billed as a development platform, but really, for most common (and not so common) features, you’ll never have to write a line of code. It comes with forums, customizable forms, customizable user profile fields (which is actually why I originally started using it), user submission systems (which can do a variety of tasks like image galleries, web logs etc.), file managers, polls, content syndication and link lists to name a few.
WebGUI is not perfect–it’s not the best at versioning and it does not come with eCommerce built in (but there is a great add-on that does this) and I’m sure there are other features here and there that it’s lacking, but it is, after all, billed as a development platform and if you really needed advanced features, it shouldn’t be too difficult for a Perl programmer to write them.
I personally have developed 6 WebGUI sites for paying clients in the past and in every case, they have been pleased with the power and ease of use of WebGUI. I personally can’t say enough good about it.
WebGUI – is what a CMS was meant to be. It’s not your typical Geeklog, PostNuke or Drupal, and don’t get me wrong, those aren’t bad, but for an all-purpose Content Management System, WebGUI cannot be beat.