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What is the best CMS to build a site where multiple users manage the content of their own areas?

Posted on 2012-03-29
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I am in the initial stages of building a web site for those aggrieved by the legal system. That requires some unique capabilities that are different from a single person blog.
1. The users would initially apply for an account. It would be granted based on the situation.
2. The registrant would provide the Country, City, State, Court, and Prison Information. This would be indexed so that directories could be generated by country, state, county etc. that would allow drill down to that prison, court system, judge, DA etc. Bread crumb string, etc.
3. The content to be stored will be .pdf files, image files, text, html text, video, sound files, and zipped files.
4. It must be easy enough for someone with basic word processing skills to enter content.
5. Example of content would be user Mary Smith writing about how her husband has been falsely imprisoned and all of the circumstances surrounding the case. She would be able to post pictures, and upload sworn affidavits in PDFs.
6. A contact form so jurists could contact her.
7. If not too much work, I would like it to have a non-public area where the user could have other documents, such as police reports and court transcriptions, that a user could give jurists access to.

I've been a hand coder of PHP, CSS, and HTML, for our large commercial sites, but I don't want to spend ages developing all of this by hand.  I have no experience with any CMS.  I would be interested in your opinions as to which would best support what I'm attempting to accomplish.

Thanks!
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Question by:IT_Architect
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TopWizard earned 500 total points
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Best CMS for your situation is Drupal. http://drupal.org/
It's very flexible, wysiwyg content management, easy file upload, etc.
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by:IT_Architect
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It surprised me that Drupal was the one that came right out of the box.  Drupal is the one that I came up with before I posted this.  The reasons I came up with Drupal were:
1.  Drupal seems to have the basis for group collaboration already.  Open Atrium is a spin-off of Drupal.
2.  Joomla's strength seems to be its commercial addons.  For blogs, it has less to offer than WordPress.  From a flexible development standpoint, it comes in behind Drupal in most respects other than possibly E-commerce.
3.  WordPress looks like its focus is to develop a blog, which can be made to look like a general purpose web site, which is most of the market.  However, the narrower focus that contributes to this development efficiency and ease of use comes at the cost of flexibility.  Attempting to get what you want outside of this design focus seems like it would be frustrating and inefficient.
4.  From a learning investment standpoint, sticking to one of these three would have the best ROI, and I'm thinking that learning something that doesn't put me in a box means I won't have to go through a learning curve twice

The reason for my post is to make sure my analysis is correct, and that I'm not missing something, since I have no experience with any CMS yet.  I appreciate your candor.
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by:IT_Architect
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The answer makes sense, and lines up with my research.  The top three CMS products are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.  Each have evolved to focus on different requirements and market strategies.  WordPress is good for blogs and normal web sites, Joomla for its commercial applications, and Drupal for development environment that doesn't put you in a box to do things their way.  Any can do the task of the other.  I didn't want a Ford, Chevy, Mopar fan fight, but rather an objective opinion of what would be best for the task at hand, and I believe I received that.
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by:Jason C. Levine
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Given your requirements I would also lean towards Drupal over Wordpress even though I primarily use Wordpress for most jobs.  

Drupal handles users and permissions in a much more granular manner than Wordpress and even though Wordpress can be made to do roles and permissions, it can be a little bit of a pain to configure properly. Drupal just does it and does it relatively well.

All other functionality you describe is common to both platforms with Wordpress having more of it present natively or via a simple plugin.  You'll work a little harder in Drupal to enable the same functions but they are there or available.
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by:IT_Architect
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"Given your requirements I would also lean towards Drupal over Wordpress even though I primarily use Wordpress for most jobs..."

Thank you.  This is the type of feedback I needed.  It's tough to be confident while picking out a horse, when I know nothing about horses.

If it weren't for the requirements, I would probably go with WordPress.   I've had to set up WordPress for people in our web hosting business.  In the CMS market, the WordPress market share is twice that of Drupal, and normal web sites are by far the most common requirement.  However, beyond this one, I have another request for a site that has similar demands.  So either way, it looks like it makes sense for me to learn Drupal.

Thanks!
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by:Jason C. Levine
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It's always a good idea to have a second CMS in your toolkit in case your primary choice isn't fully applicable to the task at hand.

I've gotten a reputation for being a WordPress honk because I truly enjoy developing in Wordpress (and for the life of me I can't figure why the iPad autocorrect goes to Wordpress in some cases and WordPress in others) and I don't hesitate to recommend it for probably 95% of what I'm asked to do.  But Drupal is an excellent, if dense, platform and can do things that Wordpress has a little trouble with.
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