CMS Discussion Pros and Cons

It’s that time of the year where I start to look at the team website and thinking of ways to improve it. Last year we used a template and the Joomla! CMS. We liked it, but the site load time wasn’t the best. I’ve personally never really been a fan of Joomla due to the article type layouts but it does have a lot of extensions. Wordpress is what I’m thinking about switching to. Then again I found an awesome looking cms called concrete5. My question is what type of cms (if any) does your team use. There are several pros to using a cms. Team 1555 is a really SMALL team and I want anyone to be able to edit it. But I think using something premade like a cms will be sort of like cheating. So what’s your views on which cms is better and what do you suggest? I would love using HTML5 and jquery is this possible with any cms?

we’re running Drupal on (despite the posts asking about Joomla. go figure). It wasn’t too hard to get set up initially, but the hardest part is getting everything looking the way you want. as with any CMS, you can either use and customize someone else’s template or make your own, but granted that’s harder. also, as you add extensions to it the site becomes more difficult to run overall, just because you have so much stuff going on, and some of them can be pretty intensive in setting up and getting them working.
as far as Drupal goes, I personally love the way it handles various content types, being able to set them up to display differently and whatnot, since I can have say a page with information about the team and then stories about what we’re doing and have them display within the front page. it all works pretty nicely

A non-mainstream one I used several years ago was e107. It had a few shortcomings (such it being non-mainstream) but for what I needed it for, I really enjoyed it. Took a bit of work to get it all set up well though, with various plugins written by various authors.

There are great demos of all of them at

My team is making the switch from no CMS, just static HTML/CSS, to Joomla. So far we really like it. There’s a big learning curve, but once you start understanding how Joomla thinks it’s a very powerful tool.

Team 2052 has been running Drupal for two years now. It’s powerful and easy to use. We’ve never had a problem with it and never really wanted to switch. p

As for HTML5- this isn’t a CMS issue. Whether or not you can use HTML5 will depend both upon your servers and your users’ browsers.

One of the sites we have is FIRSTConnects.Us, which uses Drupal. We originally used a custom PHP backend for this, but we switched to Drupal after scalability became an issue. Drupal is very powerful (the White House uses it!), but while it made complicated/abstract things easy, doing very simple things became harder. A lot of this came from the fact that we were trying to use drupal modules that weren’t really meant to do what we wanted.
Since most CMS’s seem to get functionality through modules/extensions, I would come up with a list of features you want and then compare the modules/extensions for each CMS. This will save you a lot of time later.
If you want some help finding Drupal modules, I’m sure our webmasters could make some suggestions!

Thanks guys. (I’ve been out of town for business things hence no reply). I’m also glad to see that there was a lot more added in to help other teams looking for the same answers. I’m definitely looking into drupal. Thanks for the tips guys. -Dustin Shadbolt

I just posted an article on my blog about building a FIRST Team’s website with Joomla!

Drupal is quickly becoming my CMS of choice. While I did love Joomla at one point, I’ve noticed how slow and bloated it really is after trying other systems. The article system is amazing, but ACL, for example, is lacking greatly (that is until 1.6 is released). Drupal can be very confusing at first due to its complexity, but that’s also one of its stronger points. It’s lightweight, fast, very customizable, and popular. Not to mention the obvious plus of it being open-sourced.

Another fun route, if you’re in the mood to learn quite a bit, is to use an MVC (Model-View-Controller) system and write your own CMS. PHPCake, Symfony, CodeIgniter, etc. But that can get messy if you’re not familiar with the whole concept.

By the way, using a CMS isn’t cheating at all. Quite a few large companies and businesses (not to mention our own government) use CMSes. So if FIRST is preparing students and teams for the real world, then using Drupal or Joomla is right on track.

Teams such as the Adambots win the web excellence award quite often, and they’re using MediaWiki as a CMS. So don’t downplay the importance of a CMS. Trust me, we’re a really small team too, and the functionality far outweighs winning an award.

There is a learning curve with any CMS, so expect to be tweaking it quite a bit. A couple of hints…

Always have a backup copy available when you are adding or testing code.

Cross browser check often.

Watch your image sizes. Photoshop has a save for web feature that will save you lots of load time. Use only the image size you need. Never scale to make it fit. The smaller the image the better. png images render better at smaller sizes.

I couldn’t agree more. As a matter of fact, I would highly encourage all teams towards using CMSs for that reason. Most companies have employees who need to be able to add content to websites, but don’t necessarily know how to use HTML. Similarly, allowing such individuals to edit the files on the server could be disastrous.

I recently got a job working with a research lab on campus as an IT guy, and one of the major reasons that I was able to get that job is that I gained experience working with Drupal as I built and maintained my teams website.

If you think that using a CMS is cheating, there are plenty of ways to use a CMS and challenge yourself. Build your own custom Drupal modules or make your own theme. Both will give you something to do while providing excellent experience for the future.