Best in Class – Open Source Reviews

I have been working with OpenSource software for a while, not developing but reviewing for customers, and in most cases have installed at one point or another almost every product listed on this page.  And after downloading and installing some not so great products I though you might benefit from a review of what I believe the best in each class for open source software, specifically targetted at the web.

Your comments appreciated.

Content Management: Mambo

License: GNU General Public License (GPL)
Link: MamboServer.com
Status: Production
Platform: PHP + MySQL

I believe Mambo to be one of the best pieces of Opensource software available today.  It has an amazingly professional interface, high level of sophistication, yet also accomodates simple functionality for the occasional content manager.

Likes:

  • Simple installation
  • Flexible templates
  • Image Library
  • Lots of add on modules available

Dislikes:

  • Modules vs Components vs Mambots all a little confusing

Simple Content Management: WebsiteBaker

License: GNU General Public License (GPL)
Link: WebsiteBaker.org
Status: Production
Platform: PHP + MySQL

I thought it necessary to have a second CMS category to accomodate more simple products.  WebsiteBaker is by no means simply, it is however simply to look at and doesn’t appear to have the flexability that you would find in a fully fledged content management system.

Great and easy admin interface, the default template is a little plain however and doesn’t really show off the power of the product.  It does have a great tool in the form builder, however a little poorly implemented and clunky to work with.

Likes:

  • Simple admin tools
  • Perfect for a quick and easy site

Dislikes:

  • Not many add ons available

Realestate Management: OpenRealty

License: Unknown
Link: Open-Realty.org
Status: Production
Platform: PHP + MySQL

I searched high and low trying to find some realestate software for a friend and eventually found this.  This really is a decieving product.  On the surface it looks a little simply and perhaps not ‘enough’ to do what you might find on most realestate websites.

After installation however and having a good look through the functions I found this to be very flexible and comprehensive, it even supports virtual 3d tours of property!

Image management is easy and the construction of the templates is excellent, which lets you quickly adapt this software to your own site’s look and feel.  It does have a simple content management system built in, however this software’s real function is property viewing and that’s where it excels.

Likes:

  • Image management
  • Flexible templates
  • Ability to add new fields and search criteria

Dislikes:

  • Default template a little plain

Blogging: WordPress

License: Unknown
Link: WordPress.org
Status: Production
Platform: PHP + MySQL

This really is a beautiful user experience.  I love the interface, I love the flexibility.  The default templates are nice and you easily modify to suit your own design.

The functionality is all you would expect a blog to be, trackbacks, categories, comments, draft editing, multiple users and workflow for content authorisation.

There is a little bad press about this at digital point, however if you have a low end blog then this is perfect.

Likes:

  • Blog editing has some nice AJAX
  • Previews before posting
  • Scheduled publishing (write today, post next week) 
  • Comprehensive options and configuration
  • Links management

Dislikes:

  • Images in the editor a little strange 

Portal: DotNetNuke

License: BSD Style
Link: DotNetNuke.com
Status: Production
Platform: MS SQL + .NET 2.0

I started working with DotNetNuke about 2 years ago.  Back then it supported an access database as well as MS SQL server, however it appears to now only support MS SQL.

I love the fact that it uses a really simple ‘page’ and ‘component’ style interface as well as the fact that almost everything you do is done in-line as opposed to having to go to an admin interface that is a little disconnected from the site.

Changing navigation is a breeze, as is adding member only content.  The other thing is that you can create as many sites as you like from the one installation, each with their own URL and template, all managed in the one place.

The list of components/modules you get is comprehensive and there are hundres of good quality addon modules you can buy. 

Likes:

  • Multiple sites, one admin interface
  • Ease of use 
  • Image library
  • Large community support

Dislikes:

  • Dropped support for MS Access, so might be expensive to run

eCommerce: VirtueMart

License: GPL
Link: VirtueMart.net
Status: Production
Platform: MySQL + PHP + (Joomla or Mambo)

I think the thing I like best about this is that it works well with Mambo/Joomla.  This application was recently renamed and now targets Joomla more and Mambo, but Mambo is still supported.

This software does what you might see in a standard eCommerce system.  Product information and images is comprehensive and it integrates very smoothly with a full blown CMS in Joomla.

Order management is easy, and integration to a range of checkout/payment systems is included as standard.  It has nice extras like specific group based pricing and coupons. 

You may also find a download for the whole Joomla/VirtueMart system, so one install does both CMS and eCommerce, easy!

Likes:

  • Works seemlessly with Joomla/Mambo
  • Ease of use 
  • Coupons

Dislikes:

  • Interface is a little slow 

Still to come…

Calendar

GroupWare

Email Subscription Management (Bulk Email) – PHPList

Email Autoresponder

Online Course Management

HTML Editor – FCKEditor

Document Management – KnowledgeTree Document Management Server

Photo Gallery

Forum

Surveys/Questionaire

Banner Ad Management – phpadsnew

CRM – Sugar or Tiger

Social Bookmarking – Scuttle

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