[thelist] What's a Programmer To Do?

Christie Mason cmason at managersforum.com
Mon Apr 6 11:29:16 CDT 2009

I'm not sure I've seen every posting on this thread but after having spent
the last couple of months downloading and installing about 12 free/fee, PHP
& .NET CMS apps my impressions are very close to Hassan Schroeder's

First, what I found was a lot of apps that didn't eat their own dog food.  I
was particularly frustrated when trying to find out "what does it do" with
several highly recommended, award winning CMSs.  Just seemed to me that a
CMS should use their own functionality to communicate what they did and how
they did it.  Was particularly frustrated by CMS apps that claimed a
functionality like forums or wikis only to investigate further and find that
CMS's web site using a third party app.

A LOT of security problems.  Many cases of core apps declaring security
"fixed" only for someone to experience a successful attack coming through an
add-in module.  Fixes for injection attacks proudly announced in 6/08 when
injection's been a concern for many years, especially the last 2-3 years.

Kludgey templates, often html "pages" with tags inserted entered into
database fields, based on the assumption the CMS was in charge of ALL site
content, which is impractical.  Very few included the ability to have a
"site" template.  Making site wide changes w/b an expensive nightmare.  

Many lacked even the most basic nod to accessibility w/o even a method to
add image attributes.  Much use of AJAX w/o any need.

Admin/CP UIs that would require retraining all staff and increased client
support costs because they were developed for coders, not users.  No/limited
text editors w/o any option to apply styles or even h1, h2 etc.  Limited/no
security and usability on uploading docs and images.

Inconsistent upgrades/updates w/o documentation of what was changed.  If
there were any code customizations in place they would probably break w/o

Inflexible user permission structures.

OOP methods that required preloading all classes just to use a few.

Reading, reading, reading the almost evangelical postings/comments of
adherents to one CMS proclaiming their CMS to be the one "true" CMS.  Not
sure why that seemed more the case of PHP CMSs and not .NET CMSs, but it
did.  I have an unconfirmed suspicion this might be the case of dueling
frameworks.  Many PHP CMS's seem to have their own framework. After
someone's spent much agony learning PHP, then the framework, then CMS app on
the framework, it would tend to make a person very protective of their

While I was exploring I was trying to determine what type of client would
"fit" any of the CMS apps that I evaluated.  So far, I've had to admit that
none of them provide enough usefulness to offset their learning curve and
ongoing maintenance challenges to make it to my "recommended" list.  Maybe
they fit other people's clients but I have to wonder how much of that "fit"
is like Cinderella's sisters cutting off toes and other parts of their feet
to "fit" the glass slipper.

Christie Mason 

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