The Best 10 Free and Open Source CMS Software Solutions
Nearly 2 billion websites exist today on the World Wide Web and 56% of them entirely rely on the Content Management Systems (CMS) – the software programs that enable you to create, edit, publish, manage and maintain website pages and blogs on a single interface.
Web Content Management and Enterprise Content Management are two different divisions of Content Management Systems. A wide variety of CMS tools support such kind of systems to take a website active with the required information on the web. Website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools are some of the best content management system tools offered by the software development companies today.
Evolution of Content Management System Software
Earlier, when the websites were simple HTML text files, the term ‘Web 1.0’ was used to refer to the initial stage of development on the World Wide Web. The year 1990 brought the first step towards managing content on a web page using Server Side Includes (SSI).
The Internet came across a diverse range of inventions and experiments riding on its route until it reached a turning point in 1997. It was the emergence of dynamic contents with the introduction of the Document Object Model (DOM), Web 2.0 and the role of a CMS.
When the web moved from the ‘static website state’ to ‘interactive sites with dynamic contents,’ the desire for collaborative, fresh and relevant content grew, and this boosted the need of managing content using advanced systems at the forefront.
Other than editing and managing contents using advanced tools, the best Content Management System Software also allows you to perform functions such as indexing, search and retrieval, publishing, revision control, and format management.
As shared by the experts, “When you have access to your website content with a CMS system, it allows you to retain control when your web developer is out-of-pocket.”
This proves the growing importance of CMS.
Key Features of Content Management Systems
Today is the era of digital contents. Electronic documents and multimedia files are much more preferred these days. E-commerce websites, educational institutions, and news organizations all use digital materials and prefer managing those contents through Internet-based media or ‘version control method.’ Content Management Software System meets the editing and the validation purpose of any content development activity.
In this content-driven world, you are bound to deliver fresh information every time you are seeking to connect with your employees and customers. Your enterprise website plays a key role in realizing your content delivery efforts. However, your readers always expect you to deliver reliable and consistent content that ultimately becomes the outcome of the Content Management System.
Though all organizations are different in their values and operations, but the core features that these content management system comprise, benefit all of them in every respect. Have a look at the key features;
- Easy Administration of the System
- Powerful Publishing Tools
- Multi-Platform Capabilities
- Detailed Analysis
- Micro-data Support for Voice Search
- Built-in SEO Tools
- Comprehensive Search
- Detailed Analytics
- Simple Workflow and Publishing Controls
- Exemplary Support
- Tiered Permissions
- Robust Content Templates
- Versioning for Quick Rollback
- Business Alignment
Types of CMS Software
You can group the CMS’s as per their licensing and deployment. In general, they are of three types.
Free and Open Source CMS and Frameworks
The market for content management systems started seeing a surge from the year 2000. It was the time when the concept of open source CMS came into existence. By 2003, users started getting familiar with Open source facility. Eventually, there came in a big list of free open source content management software programs into the context due to their increasing popularity in the market. Today, more than 60.33% of the market share for the content management systems is taken over by the open source content management software solutions.
The open source content management systems are essential web-publishing platforms that help the users, especially the non-technical site owners, to upload their content easily. It allows users to use different themes and templates, add pages and sections and upload posts using the WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) and drag-and-drop tools. Such kind of tools essentially mirrors the simplicity carried by the Word Processors with a massive range of preset features and editing tools to present the content with a new look.
How an Open Source CMS Works?
There are many critical features of open source CMS software. Let’s check how they work and help the users effectively.
- Page Management: This feature allows the users to create, publish, edit and delete web pages and templates.
- Content Repository: This section facilitates editing and uploading different parts of the content separately. This way, searching-on-site becomes more comfortable and independent.
- Word Processor: The built-in word processor in most of the CMS platforms allows for rich media, in-text editing & linking and text formatting.
- Themes and Templates: You can template the entire website, its sections, and pages into layouts and designs. Only the content changes are needed every time you are up to publishing the new one.
- SEO Tools: Some of the SEO tools in such systems come with plugged-in or built-in functionalities like on-page SEO, in-text keyword analysis and Meta Tagging.
- Web Traffic Analysis: Some CMS platforms use a plug-in, while others come with built-in analytics. For example, Google Analytics.
- User Permissions: CMS platforms also come with a hierarchy of user permissions like other business systems. These permissions cover read-only access, editing controls and system-wide access to minimize data breach, content deletion or unauthorized publishing, especially when you are working from a remote area or with an offshore team.
- Plug-ins: Plug-ins app integration is allowed by most of the CMS platforms. They are generally third-party developed products and enhance the functionality of a CMS.
- Open API: An Open API is supported by the majority of CMSs to connect to third-party apps that can be plug-ins, templates or other complementary tools. An Open API also lets the users integrate their app to the system.
- W3C Compliance: The code generated by the CMS should comply with the W3C standards so that it becomes interoperable with different browsers and platforms.
- Mobile Support: Some content management systems support mobile-responsive websites, or they provide a separate app for mobile sites. Or else, you can get both the options on a single platform only.
Benefits of Free and Open Source CMS Software
Not just media and publishing companies, but many other industries also need to manage the contents of their website regularly. They do this to retain their competitive presence online.
Earlier, hiring a webmaster was essential for most firms to upload and manage their web contents. But today, it is well-attained by a simple and efficient content management system and program.
Let’s check how useful CMS software can be for your business.
List of Best Free and Content Management System
After discussing how well you can go with using open source and free CMS software for your enterprise requirements, here I am going to present a list of some of the leading free and open source content management software programs. You can check them and rely on them after selecting the best for your business requirements.
The above-listed CMS software programs are robust, scalable, and secure and cater to one’s unique business needs. Still, you can compare them all by checking the comparison chart of the free and open source CMS software programs given below.
Now, let us discuss them all in detail.
WordPress is one of the leading and most popular free and open source Content Management System software solutions with an undefeatable market share of 59.90%. It is most famous among bloggers, but also supports other types of web contents and their management. The actual release date of WordPress CMS is May 27, 2003. It is written in PHP and operated on UNIX-like, Windows, Linux operating systems. It is Blog software, Content Management System, Content Management Framework, licensed as per GPLv2+ and its stable version is 5.1.
- WordPress is known well as a factory that makes web pages.
- The responsive-design feature is well-supported by end-number of themes, templates, and layouts from WordPress.
- It helps you incorporate social media into the theme so that your contents reach a maximum number of audiences.
- Multiple page styles and plenty of widgets.
- Theme customization with pre-designed themes helps in putting a site together easily and quickly.
- All-in-One-SEO pack is a No#1 plug-in supported by WordPress.
- HD and Retina Display feature enables the visuals and images look much better than ever.
With a market share of 6.60%, Joomla is the second most preferred open source CMS software that works on the model–view–controller web application framework. This software program is written in PHP, supports object-oriented programming (OOP) and operates on cross-platform networks. It is a Content Management Framework, Content Management System which holds the license as per GPLv2. Its actual release date is August 17, 2005, and the stable version is 3.9.3.
- Joomla is perfect multilingual software (over 40 languages) for content management and content versioning.
- Using Joomla under GPL is free.
- It supports out-of-the-box SEO, and SEF.
- The software is flexible to make a blog, community website, business website, and an intranet.
- Extensions are available with Joomla to extend website functionality.
- You can create as many menus and menu items as you need.
- It facilitates cache management as well.
A free and open source content management system and web application framework – Drupal is among the top three best CMSs in the developing world with a market share of 4.60%. It is also available in PHP, licensed as per GPLv2+ and operates on Unix-like and Windows operating systems. The software initially released on May 18, 2000, and its stable version 8.6.10 release date is February 20, 2019.
Along with WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, TYPO3 is another most popular free and open source content management system written in PHP. It comprises 1.50% of total market share, works on cross-platform operating systems, available in 51 languages, and licensed as per GNU General Public License. The software initially released in the year 2008 and its stable version 9.5.0 release date is October 2, 2018.
- TYPO3 facilitates more than 5000 extensions to download from a repository called as the TYPO3 Extension Repository or TER.
- TYPO3 software can run on most of the HTTP servers like Apache or IIS along with Linux, Microsoft Windows or Mac OS.
- It supports PHP 5.3 or newer and all relational databases supported by TYPO3 DBAL; for example, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and MySQL.
- No browser restrictions prevail here to display user-oriented content generated by TYPO3.
Concrete5 is well-known open source content management system software used to publish contents on the Intranet portals and the World Wide Web. It is based on the based on Model-View-Controller architecture and object-oriented programming and designed to facilitate the simple usage of the software, especially for those having limited technical skills. Concrete5 is available in PHP language, licensed as per MIT licensing works on cross-platform operating systems. Its stable version 8.4.5 release date is February 26, 2019.
- Concrete5 facilitates in-context editing, i.e., editing the website content directly on the web page.
- Concrete5 templates have separate editable areas that allow the editors to insert the blocks of content material.
- These blocks may have simple contents like text and images or more complex functionality like comments system, lists of files, slideshows and maps, etc.
- It is a WYSIWYG content editor and dynamically generates forms for the typed contents with drafts and auto-save facility.
- The software facilitates simple installation, one-click version update and, add-on support. You can get 1000s of add-ons within seconds only.
6. Django CMS
Django CMS is another participant in the list of top free and open source content management system platforms to publish and manage contents on the World Wide Web and Intranet portals. The software is available in Django and Python languages. It operates on multiple platforms, licensed as per BDS licensing and was initially released during May 2007. The stable version 3.6.0 release date of this software is January 29, 2019.
(Source: Django CMS)
- Django CMS supports front-end editing feature that lets you edit all the plug-ins within the page.
- Flexible plug-in architecture with the software enables you to build flexible web-pages with a variety of plug-in options.
- It involves a proper editorial workflow for publishing and approval.
- Specific rights are set in the software for different users as per the permission management feature.
- Django software supports multiple languages and is capable of administering various websites over the same admin interface.
- The software lets you add different apps to different pages of the CMS.
7. Grav CMS
Grav is a modern open-source flat-file content management system that focuses on speed and accuracy. It runs on PHP 5.6.4 and higher including almost all of the web-servers. Its Stable Version 1.5.8 release date is February 2019, and it has been voted for ‘Best Open Source CMS’ in 2016 and ‘Best Flat File CMS’ in 2017.
(Source: Grav CMS)
- The flat file architecture makes the Grav CMS flexible and faster.
- The system uses sophisticated caching method well understands when to update and cache automatically.
- Grav software works on the quick-installation mode with zero configurations required.
- Grav software extensions are easy to find, install and upgrade.
- The software facilitates the CLI or Command Line Tools such as user creation, cache clearing, backups, and dependency installations, etc.
- Twig, YAML, Markdown, Doctrine Caching, and Symfony components are the best-in-class technologies that Grav employs.
OpenCMS is a Java-based open source content management system software. It is a WYSIWYG editor that works on Java and XML platforms and licensed as per GNU Lesser General Public License. The first open source version of the software came in the market in 2000, and its stable version 10.5.3 release date is October 18, 2017.
- OpenCMS software features an entirely browser-based user interface.
- It features configurable editors to obtain structured contents with well-defined fields.
- It facilitates a sophisticated template engine that enforces W3C standard compliance and site-wide corporate layout for its all content materials.
- This CMS application comes with user management, asset management, workflow management, editing and authoring, and content versioning, etc.
- It’s content repository stores in MySQL, PostgreSQL, HSQLDB, Oracle, MSSQL, and DB2 support it natively.
OpenWGA is a Java-based content management system runs on the OpenWGA server. It is a cross-platform application available in English and German languages and licensed as per GNU GPL 3.0 or higher. The stable version 7.6.5 release date of this software is February 7, 2019.
- OpenWGA possesses easy-to-use, powerful and extremely flexible Authoring UI.
- It comprises the 3-panel-UI that reminds about desktop apps like MS PowerPoint.
- You can edit all the elements ‘inline’ in the software.
- ‘Drag and Drop’ facility is available for uploading the files, creating links and restructuring the site.
- The content module concepts let the authors have the flexibility they are designed to operate the software.
10. C1 CMS
(Source: C1 CMS)
- C1 CMS is a multilingual and UNICODE supporting CMS.
- It facilitates multiple document interface, publishing workflow, and content security.
- It is an XHTML compatible WYSIWYG editor based on .NET 4.5 and ASP.NET 4.5.
- It supports XSLT developer tooling and provides transparent XML and SQL server support via LINQ.
- The Azure Publisher associated with C1 CMS gives you a scalable publishing platform to run your website across Microsoft’s different data centers.
We have included one more popular CMS software for discussion. Open TextECM has some robust CMS features.
Let us discuss OpenTextECM in detail.
OpenTextECM leads in the field of Enterprise Information Management (EIM). It enables businesses to grow faster with low operational costs. It integrates enterprise content management with the lead application. It is a Saas, web-based and cloud-based software that comes with a free trial and facilitates quotation based pricing.
- OpenTextECM is a user-friendly, modern, and innovative content management tool.
- It operates on Windows, Linux, Mac, and web-based operating systems.
- The ECM integration powers digital transformations for empowering Intelligent and Connected Enterprise.
- Rich text editor, version control, indexing, permission management, document management, SEO management, template creation, rule-based publishing, and approval process control are some important features of this software program.
Sitefinity, Contentful, Kentico CMS, Solodev, Contentstack, Slickplan, Magnolia, Agility CMS, and HyperCMS are some additional software options you can take for Content Management. In case, you have used any of these software programs earlier; you can share your reviews with us.
Content Management Systems are like digital printing press. They determine how the information is published and shared online. Unlike the traditional printing press, they increasingly give emphasis over how the stories are produced, presented, read and monetized. WordPress leads as a free blogging platform that can be self-hosted. This powerful system comes with SEO-friendly package with (.org) and (.com) domains.
Open Source CMS platforms are undoubtedly supported by digital transformation tools today. Managing contents have not just remained up to simple editing stuff. It has become the most critical part of the full customer lifecycle that underpins the entire digital experience of a brand including social media, apps, etc.
In the entire enterprise space, open source content management is growing as a progressive player. Reports indicate that nearly 64% of the companies rely on open source content management solution and 93% of them have affirmed that the usage of open source tools in their organization has increased in comparison to the previous year. However, out of all, 87% of the organizations agree upon the fact that this digital transformation is providing a competitive opportunity for them to grow in the market. The market of CMS software solutions is improving than ever, and it is expected to rise massively in the future as well.
Also, it is said that “If you don't have an easy to use CMS for your website, you're just not going to publish as much content. There's too much of a hurdle in your way".
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