an international
peer-reviewed journal
ISSN 2041-3254

Wordpress as a CMS?

by Sanjay Sharma
7 Mar 2008 • Comment (0) • Print
darkmatter development Blog

As the co-editor and web-admin of darkmatter, the opensource blog software platform of WordPress (WP) is used to run the journal. I’m not a proper coder, but a bit of (php, html, css) knowledge really does go a long way with WP. And the original theme (Light 1.0) has been modified in order to make it work like a journal.

However, to be able to use WP in this way, a number of plugins are required. Clearly what makes WP stand out from the crowd is its vast plugin community, enabling to remarkably extend its features and make it work more like a CMS.

But there’s a downside. The number of plugins can start to proliferate if you want CMS (content management system) features. For example, to display multiple authorship for an article requires a plugin (called co-authors, which is relatively new and overcomes the short-comings of an existing multiple authors plugin). While the latest WP has a tagging system it’s still basic, so another plugin is needed for that. Similarly to properly print-format an article, you need another plugin. (And there’s still no properly working PDF conversion plugin). And the workflow is almost non-existent, even with plugins such as role manager.

The problem I’m finding, if you want to do something more than a single authored blog on WP, you need plugins. And plugins need to be continually updated, as WP is constantly upgrading its core package. Plugin updates doesn’t always happen. And then there’s the overhead involved in keeping the site up-to-date and properly functioning.

This constant upgrading (and testing) cycle is high maintenance… Sorry to say, but I may quit using WP for darkmatter.

Therefore, I’m checking out alternatives to WP, which have more integrated features and designed to be used by multiple authors. Some opensource CMS possibilities are Joomla and drupal (the latter seems especially attractive, though has a higher learning curve due to its inherent flexibility). Also there’s OJS, a dedicated opensource journal system. It has solid support, though its workflow system is cumbersome and may not suit our needs on darkmatter as it reproduces the conventions of a print journal.

I’m leaning towards drupal at the moment, but early days yet.

Edit [24/03/08]: Having played around with drupal, it certainly does have a higher learning curve than WP! And is more accurately described as a Content Management Framework (rather than merely a CMS). Clearly powerful and it has many more features integrated compared to WP. But it’s an unfair comparison to make, even though WP is moving beyond blogging capabilities.

The juries still out on whether to go the drupal route (which would take a few months getting to grips with for me). Continuing with WP with a new strategy of only using significant/essential plugins, and not attempting to follow WP core upgrades (apart from security updates). That is, upgrading darkmatter say once every 6 or 12 months would make things more manageable?


Sanjay Sharma is a Co-Editor of darkmatter and responsible for the site admin. Currently teaches in the School of Social Sciences, Brunel University, UK. Twitter: @sanjay_digital
All posts by: Sanjay Sharma | Email | Website

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