Web Content Management Systems: Open Source WCMS Solutions Gaining Popularity and Market Share

Content management systems (CMS) are computer applications designed for the creation, editing, managing, searching and publishing of various digital media and electronic text.

Web content management systems (WCMS) are CMS software packages implemented as web applications for the creation and management of HTML documents and associated electronic images. For users with little to no knowledge of programming or markup languages, WCMSs usually provide authoring and other administrative tools designed to facilitate the creation and management of website content,

Currently, total revenue in the web content management system market is approximately $750 million per year, with an expected annual growth rate of 15% through 2017.

According to Water & Stone’s Open Source CMS Market Share Survey, WordPress is the current industry leader followed by Joomla! and Drupal. The Water & Stone study does not include commercial offerings or hosted options such as Blogger.

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Commercial development of web content management systems began in the 1990s. By the mid-2000s, the market fragmented into enterprise applications, mid-market, software as a service and open source solutions.

In the past 5-10 years, many personal website owners have expanded beyond simple blogs to host additional topic-specific content. Web content management systems have become the choice of site owners and operators to simplify the management of that content.

System Capabilities

Key features offered by most web content management systems include:

  • Easily editable content
  • Document management
  • Workflow management
  • Scalable feature sets
  • Automated templates
  • Upgrades of new feature sets and web standards

Categories of Web Content Management Systems

Recently, several different categories of web content management systems have been identified, based on methodology used for publishing content.

Offline processing systems pre-process all content by applying templates prior to publication of web pages. Examples of such systems include Bricolage and sagar Vignette CMS.

Online processing systems apply templates dynamically, based on demand. When readers visit a web page, HTML is generated either from a cache or immediately upon page access. Some of the better known open source systems producing content in this manner are Mambo, Joomla!, Drupal and Plone.

Hybrid systems combine or offer both online and offline processing. A popular example is Movable Type, which defaults to static, offline publishing of web pages. Movable Type can also be configured for online, dynamic publishing using templates and data contained in the application database to generate web pages on the fly.

Open Source Solutions Gain Populatiry

Seen by some as mostly wiki and blogging platforms, open source web content management systems are growing in popularity because they have evolved into stable, robust, mature products. These systems currently account for three percent of WCMS market share with growth expected to continue into the foreseeable future.

Basic configurations of these products are typically available for personal use at no charge. Commercial usage of these systems can require payment of licensing fees.

In the business world, Gartner, Inc. suggests open source content management systems can only survive if development focus shifts from technical aspects of the products to functional business solutions. Fierce competition from feature-rich commercial products is likely to force this shift within the next 10 years.


The 3 Best Free Content Management Systems

Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal are 3 of the leading CMS (Content Management System). All three of them are free, open source CMS written in PHP – the most popular Web language. The other popular (free or paid) CMS are far behind Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal but of course, this doesn't mean that the other CMS are not good.



Joomla (Read introduction to Joomla here.)is rightfully among the best free CMS because it offers tons of functionalities, thousands of extensions, and has a dedicated community of supporters. Many of the top web sites in the world run Joomla. Joomla can be found on sites of all sizes and it performs equally well as a personal blogging platform, as well as the platform to power a multi-million visitors site.

Joomla has an active community of developers and supporters, which means that new features, new versions, and bug fixes are released frequently. The community is very helpful and when somebody has a problem and asks a question in the Joomla forums, usually an answer or a solution is given pretty fast. This friendly spirit is not to be underestimated because when a webmaster is stuck with a problem, timely help is vital.



WordPress is another very, very popular PHP CMS. It is not possible to tell if Joomla is better than WordPress or just the opposite because both PHP CMS are great. They are different from one another and any comparison would be inaccurate. It is highly subjective but for a novice webmaster, WordPress seems to be a bit easier to learn and master. Anyway, there is no way to measure which of the two (i.e. Joomla or WordPress) are easier to administer and maintain.

Otherwise, as far as functionality is concerned, WordPress is again among the 3 best CMS because it has all the features one can expect. WordPress also has thousands of plugins, which add additional functionality, which means that it is possible to configure it exactly the way it must be.

WordPress is also a top choice for sites of any size. The developers' community of WordPress is also active and the forums are a great way to solve a problem.



For many webmasters Drupal is the number 1 choice for a CMS. However, in comparison to Joomla and WordPress, Drupal is less popular (which of course doesn't mean that it is inferior). Drupal also offers all the things one can expect from a top CMS and it is also a popular choice among sites of all sizes. Drupal might not have tens of thousands of themes and extensions as Joomla and WordPress do, but still it offers quite a lot and it is possible to build a great site with it.

Any ratings of the best CMS are to be taken with a grain of salt because the choice is a matter of personal preferences. The fact that Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal are frequently named the 3 best CMS doesn't mean that they are exceptional. In addition to these top 3 best CMS, there are tens of others, which are also good – TextPattern, Nucleus, PHP-Nuke, Xoops, PostNuke, Typo3, e107, Plone (a Python CMS), to name a few, and these CMS are also worth trying.


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