I’ve been playing around with some JAVA based Open Source Content Management Systems for some time for an upcoming project. I’ve considered OpenCMS, Apache’s Lenya and Alfresco uptil now and am posting some of the observations here. I will try and keep this a *living* post i.e., I will keep updating it as and when possible. Once I have more details, I might even restructure it so that comparison is a feature by feature comparison. I will also add reviews about other Open Source CMSes too if I get an opportunity to play around with them.
It is the oldest and i guess most matured of the three mentioned above. It uses Java and XML and can work with all major databases and application servers. It uses the concept of offline and online projects. I think it is similar to staging and production environments, with offline project acting as the staging site for previewing content etc. The site can be delivered either using static publishing or dynamically. There is workflow also but I have not worked with it and hence do not know how customizable it is. More features can be added using Modules. Professional support can be bought separately.
However, i *personally* feel the learning curve to be steep. Although there is extensive documentation covering different aspects, I would have loved to see a getting started tutorial which explains how to develop a simple site with content entry, workflow and finally delivery. Maybe it is already there somewhere but I havenot found it yet. Apart from this, it is not very easy to customize.
It comes from Apache’s stable and I guess that is the biggest strength. It was created by Wyona and then donated to Apache. It uses Cocoon framework which is quite customizable. It also has most features expected of a good CMS and matches OpenCMS in that respect.
However, it is not very easy to install. Unlike a single click wizard based installation of OpenCMS and Alfresco, one needs to use Ant and build Lenya as well as Cocoon. Okay It does have a binary install but then you are tied down and cannot run it on your own application server. Hopefully this will be improved in the later versions. All content is stored as XML which could be good or bad depending on your requirements. Finally, learning Cocoon and Lenya and understanding the use of APIs to extend the platform could be painful ;-(
Its the latest in the space. Very easy to install and get up and running. However, it is only a preview release and not a full fledged production. I’ve written some initial thoughts about it here. This could be a product to watch especially since it is created by veterans in the CMS space and has some really cool features.