Choosing a CMS


This is the story of selecting a CMS for an old (really old) website.

Once upon a long ago, I created a website with a bit of content on Sri Lanka. At the time, very few people knew PHP and I wasn't one of them but I did know a little bit of perl. Content management systems were unheard of, finding a website backed up a database was like finding a needle in a haystack.

Despite all the technological shortcomings this site continued to grow and ended up having around 100 pages, all of them created statically. I did however have a few tricks up my sleeve. I left markers in the html code, which allowed me to change navigation menus etc with the helps of a few regular expression.

Content Management Systems have now come a full circle and they are now concentrating on generating static html pages out of the content in the database. My system that is seven years old is no different.

Once I left University in 2000 the site fell into neglect, even though I made three half hearted attempts to update it. During the last such attempt a new blog was setup on it, though I regularly post on this blog the rest of the site continues to be neglected.

I might have abandoned the site, but for the fact that good websites on sri lanka are few and far between. Most of the sites are either commercial in nature or do not contain enough information.

So after a couple of years of procastinating, I finally decided to rebuild the site from the ground up, this time with a database and a CMS. Getting ownership of a domain that I once used to own (but lost after I started working because it was not renewed) started things of. Since then, I have been looking around to identify a suitable content management system and you might already have read about it in this blog.

Drupal has tentatively been chosen as the CMS and over the next couple of weeks I plan to import the content in the static HTML into the CMS. The data will be imported with the help of a few PHP scripts that I hope to write and I reckon it will not be a difficult task to import them into a different CMS should the need arise.

Finally the blog on the site is currently powered by Movable type, and I hope to keep it that way for the moment, even though drupal has it's own blog module. The reasons are two fold. First is that it makes the import process simpler, and second is that I have a novel way of blogging (thanks to a feature of MT).

With MT unlike other bloggers, the posts are exported into static html files (which makes a lot of sense). In my blog, the MT software is actually installed on my desktop and when I post a new entry, I upload the exported files to my server. Since I do most of my bloggin at home, and bandwidth in Sri Lanka is very expensive, this works well for me.

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