Content management systems (CMS)

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  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, July 2017


See also Citation management | Diigo | Instant messaging (IM) software | Social cataloguing | Social networking | Twitter | Web 2.0

A content management system (CMS) is the collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment.[1] Content management systems are most typically used in a modern web environment to enable organizations to move beyond a standard series of web pages, and implement more dynamic features for content creation into their website including blogs, discussion forums, event calendars, and user profiles (social networking). These types of websites are becoming more common due to the rise of social media and the desire for groups with a common interest (companies, non-profit organizations, community groups, etc.) to be able to come together and make a platform where the community can thrive online.

Content management systems can take several forms that vary in terms of the available features of their software, the rights under which users are allowed to use and distribute the software, and differences in where any website data that is generated through the software's use is kept and how it may be analyzed and distributed.

In a healthcare context, CMS may often be used to support Digital Communities of Practice (CoPs).

Open-source, proprietary & cloud-based

Content management systems can be typically be classified into three types: open-source, proprietary and cloud-based. Open-source CMSs are available for download by anyone, are typically free. Open-source software is distinguished by the ability for users to study, change and improve its source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders.[2]


  • Website:
  • Summary: "Drupal is an open source CMS platform powering millions of websites. It’s built, used and supported by an active and diverse community of people around the world." [3] One of the most popular open source solutions for a full-featured CMS. Extensible, but has a high-learning curve for development, upgrading and maintenance.
  • Cost: Free and open-source.
  • Pros: Low costs and high flexibility. Any desired characteristic can be created in Drupal. Active and enagaging development community that is available for support and creative solutions to particular problems.
  • Cons: Though costs are low, the human resources required to set up and customize Drupal are immense. Maximizing participation and support from the open-source community requires proactive enagagement on forums. Formal technical support as from a vendor is not available.
  • Examples: InspireNet
  • Similar products: Joomla


  • Website:
  • Summary: "WordPress is web software you can use to create a website or blog. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time." [4] Evolved from a basic blogging platform to a fully-developed content management system that is used to power full websites. Because of its roots in blogging, Wordpress lends itself to dynamic content, and a somewhat lower skill-level entry point for development and maintenance.
  • Cost: Free and open-source.
  • Pros: Reduction in complexity while remaining flexible and extensible. Dynamic and fresh content is easy to produce and share.
  • Cons: Less social networking/eCoP and collaboration features available, unless also using Buddypress (below).


  • Website:
  • Summary: "Social networking in a box. Build a social network for your company, school, sports team or niche community all based on the power and flexibility of WordPress."[5]. A CMS that is used primarily for social networking. Based on Wordpress, Buddypress allows users to move beyond blogging and into more familiar social networking space with a username, profile and message boards.
  • Cost: Free and open-source.
  • Pros: Easy entry into the social networking features that are not available in a traditional Wordpress install. The ability for the dynamic content and blogging remains. Additional features bring the ability for users to provide status updates and send public and private messages to each other, as well as maintain a personal profile and Wordpress blog. One-click feature activation/disabling.
  • Cons: More features means more complexity and setup time in achieving the desired effects. Open-source means no vendor technical support.
  • Examples: UBC Blogs


Sixent (Ramius)

  • Website:
  • Summary: "Developed by Ramius Corporation, Sixent is a private social networking system that integrates a suite of social technologies to allow enterprises to engage and gain insight from internal and external audiences in a controlled secure manner."
  • Cost: 100 users at a price of $3.50 / month per user; more users lowers cost per user. (Activity-based billing also available)
  • Pros: Full suite of collaborative tools and group applications; integration with web 2.0 tools.
  • Cons:
  • Examples: TAP Portal


  • Website:
  • Summary:
  • Cost:
  • Pros: Highly customizable.
  • Cons: Requires heavy client development.
  • Examples:


  • Website:
  • Summary: "Qontext is a social collaboration platform that facilitates content sharing, contextual conversations, collaboration across business applications, and enterprise-grade security and privacy options"
  • Cost: Unsure.
  • Pros: API interface allows integration into existing applications (?)
  • Cons: Opaque website with little information. Seems that the system is heavily invested in large enterprise operations.
  • Examples:



  • Website:
  • Summary: Ontario-based online community solutions give greater control over how you work and access knowledge. Every solution powered by IGLOO comes complete with a suite of content management, collaboration and knowledge-sharing tools. IGLOO Communities are internally focused and used to connect your workforce across geographically dispersed teams, departments and units. IGLOO Marketplace Communities are externally focused and used to extend collaboration, knowledge sharing and networking beyond your firewall to your customers, partners and suppliers." Features: BlackBerry® Client, Desktop Client, Domain Mapping;® and Microsoft® SharePoint integration.
  • Cost: Scaled cost per user, between $4-10 per user per month.
  • Pros: Set of commonly used tools bundled together as a software package, including content management, blogging, messaging, social networking and document sharing. Installation and support. Canadian company. Cloud-based system means less back-end work for development and installation.
  • Cons: Cloud-based solution gives less physical control over data.
  • Examples: O3, Ontario research networking platforms

CommunityZero (Ramius)

Summary: "With CommunityZero software from Ramius, your organization can build secure, scalable online communities to engage your audience and improve business performance."

  • Cost:
  • Pros: Cloud-based installation, no installation or development required.
  • Cons: Anecdotal evidence suggests that the features are not easy to use nor engaging for users. Separate website required for community. Legacy system, being phased out in place of Sixent (see above).
  • Examples:




  • BC-based company
  • Primarily survey-driven. Easy and user-friendly system for delivering questions to large groups and reporting back.

Content management tools

  • b2evolution is a free blog tool for the next generation of blogs. It includes all the features of traditional blog tools, and extends them with evolved features such as file & photo management, advanced skinning, multiple blogs support as well as detailed user permissions.
  • Blackboard Connect new2.gif is a course management system developed by Blackboard Inc. Its features include course management, open architecture and scalable design that allows for integration with student information systems and authentication. It may be installed locally or hosted in the cloud by Blackboard.
  • Drupal is equipped with a powerful blend of features, and can support a variety of websites ranging from personal weblogs to large community-driven websites.
  • Edublogs is a free blog hosting tool for education purposes. It is particularly useful if you want to set up a blog for multiple users (classroom) as opposed to an individual student or instructor.
  • Elgg is an open source software platform designed to allow people to easily connect and share resources. Elgg Spaces allows you to create social networks like MySpace for your school/institution. You decide if the network is private or public.
  • Google Coursebuilder new2.gif is Google's experimental first step in the world of online education, packaging the software and technology used to build its Power Searching with Google online course
  • Journler is a daily notebook and entry based information manager. Scholars, teachers, students, professors, scientists, thinkers, the business minded and writers of every persuasion use it to connect the written word with the media (video and images) most important to them.
  • Lore is a platform for instructors to manage their courses and engage their students; it combines tools such as gradebook, file management, communication, and calendaring with social networking features so students can communicate with each other.
  • Moodle new2.gif is a course management system (CMS) - a free, open source software package designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities.It is also used to host online conferences.
  • is a Canadian online community that connects youth to find inspiration, access information, get involved, and take action in their local and global communities. 800px-Flag of Canada.svg.png
  • Tapped In is an online workplace for a community of education professionals. K-12 teachers, librarians, administrators, and professional development staff, as well as university faculty, students, and researchers gather here to learn, collaborate, share, and support one another.
  • Worldbridges is a community of communities that use 'homegrown webcasting' and other new media technologies to help people learn.


  1. "Content Management System." Wikipedia.
  2. "Open-source Software." Wikipedia.
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