Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Java based open source CMS portals

Spent a bit of time tonight looking at Java based CMS portals for an upcoming project. The ones I looked at briefly were


We're basically looking for a CMS that we can customize and enhance through development. Our initial evaluations don't include any PHP based ones because PHP isn't our forte (yes you don't have to tell me that the CMS/Portal market is dominated by PHP products). In short our requirements include forums, news, blogs.

This is a port of PHP-Nuke done using Velocity. Jetnuke seems to have alot of of modules which is a big plus. Maybe I'm biased but I'm not really keen on taking on a Velocity project, Velocity seems to have lost it's steam and barely gets mention nowadays. Couldn't find any evidence that jetnuke supports skins/themes (hopefully using CSS) which is a requirement for us. Jetnuke does include a blog module.

This CMS intrigued me the most as it was developed using AppFuse and the technology stack is chock full of goodies: Struts, Spring, Hibernate, Acegi, Tiles, etc. I'm not excited about the Struts+Tiles usage but beggars can't be choosers right? There was a screenshot which I looked at and assuming my assumptions are correct, it does support themes/layouts in some sense. The site itself isn't very polished IMO but that can be worked on. Don't see any blog module though.

This project had no screenshots that I could find on their site so I had no choice but to download and install it for a quick look-see. The installation was easy enough, simply drop a war in Tomcat and follow a setup wizard. Not so fast. I chose a full installation and as it proceeded to deploy the CMS, I noticed it was unzipping alot of files. A quick look at the opencms.war file shows they embed ALOT of zip files for each module/subsytem of the CMS. No problem I say, so I let the installation run it's course. I start bitching. Yes it's on my laptop which is a 1.25Ghz G4 Powerbook w/ 1Gb ram (not exactly a sexy MacBook Pro) but taking this long to install anything is rediculous. I was patient and let it continue. the setup wizard was nice enough to inform me at completion that it took 1:01hr to install. ONE HOUR AND ONE MINUTE!!! Are you nuts? Now obviously that's only installation and simply starting the servlet container and deploying an already installed CMS site isn't going to take that long but if we're going to do multiple installations, that's unacceptable. A whole god damn hour for christ's sake, if I was one of those raving Ruby on Rails fanboys...I'd be raving at how I could have written a CMS in RoR in that hour ;)

OpenCMS doesn't seem to have any real usable modules, every module looks the same, simply a content pane in the middle displaying information. The "job module" shows jobs. The "news module" shows news items. Does anyone from OpenCMS want to explain to me how those modules are different? Where are the forums, blogs, galleries, etc?

The only positive thing I have to say about OpenCMS so far is that the installation, although long, was flawless. It's really rare in the open source world when you can install a product and run it and not see errors, warnings, problems. So while the 6.2 is beta, it does look somewhat stable.

So far no runaway winner. I'll keep looking and make notes here. If time were an issue and I had to pick, I'd probably pick Atleap simply based on what it's been implemented on. Hard to get excited about a new project when you don't like the current implementation (talking about jetnuke+velocity).

1 comment:

Bram Smeets said...

Maybe you should have a look at Alfresco ( I have not used it myself yet, but I have heard good stories about it.