What is an Open-Source CMS?

Mary Elizabeth

Open-source is an abbreviation for the phrase open-source software, which is software that is distributed with a license that allows end users to redistribute it freely and modify it, as long as the modifications are also distributed freely. CMS is the abbreviation for the phrase content management system. A CMS is a software application that is used in the development and management of content for a website. An open-source CMS is provided to the user along with an open-source license, as opposed to a proprietary CMS that comes with a license that does not allow the user to modify it or pass it on freely.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Open-source CMS software is used to create a number of different types of applications. Some of these are portals, which provide a single access point to web content, forums on which users — and sometimes experts — can share views and exchange information, blogs, and wikis. Also available are learning management systems, image galleries, ecommerce solutions like shopping carts, and groupware, which helps people work together from remote locations.

Blogs are probably the best known open-source CMS software, and many people who use them may not have realized that this is another way of considering what they are. Both WordPress®, written with PHP and MySQL, and MovableType®, written with Perl, are examples.

Wikis are websites with interlinked pages that are often collaborative. Examples that are open-source include DokuWiki and MediaWiki. Open-source CMS software for learning management includes Moodle, which also is referred to as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), eFront, and ATutor, which combines learning management with social networking. Image Galleries include Gallery, 4Images Gallery, and Coppermine. A number of ecommerce open-source CMS solutions are shopping carts, including ZenCart, osCommerce, and OpenCart. Some of the types of groupware include EGroupware, which manages office details like appointments, contacts, and todo lists, and Bugzilla, a bug tracking system for software development by a number of open-source projects — like Mozilla and Open Office — as well as NASA and The New York Times.

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