What is a Content Managment System?
A Content Management System provides all the tools necessary to create a website. It uses a combination of a database and blank design templates to automatically create pages on the fly. The CMS usually relies on predefined modules for common components such as articles, event calendars and link lists. This provides for faster set-up and lower costs but limits the flexibility of the site to some degree.
VCN is currently hosting an open source CMS program called WebGUI (Graphic User Interface). The software is accessible through any computer with access to the internet, so there is nothing to install and all upgrades are handled in a central location. Each web-page in a WebGUI installation can be edited by a particular person or group. If you have editing privileges for a particular page, after you login in a series of drop down menus appear. You can then add objects such as text, images, event calendars and message boards by filling in a series of templates. While the look of each object is somewhat limited, in WebGUI there is no need to have knowledge of HTML or other programming languages typically needed for taking care of the "back-end" of the database.
There are a number of obvious advantages to using such a system. The first is that the ease of the tool enables people with a lower computer skill level to be able to update their own section of the website. This means that those with the information are closer to being able to publish that information on the web. Secondly, the control of the website can be decentralized to various community members while all the information remains in the same area. This facilitates communication amongst members of a particular community. Lastly, the built in interactive components allow for other community members to interact with the site through the use of discussion boards, polls, surveys and data forms.