Every now and then I need to find a new tool to work with. It might be a blog or a content management system, a image gallery or an e-learning platform. It could be for a personal project, for a client’s needs, or just a whim. More often than not my starting point is opensourceCMS.com.
This site hosts 150 live demos of open source content management systems with both the public interfaces and the administrative interface exposed for you to experiment with. This means you can get a quick feel for a packages interface, structure and capabilities without having to download, unpack, install, configure etc.
Three things to bear in mind:
- There is only one instance of each package running, so if someone else is evaluating the same application at the same time you will see some unexpected changes.
- Each application is refreshed every 30 minutes. This means that all your changes will be lost and you’ll be starting from scratch. This is a way of shortlisting, not of conducting an in-depth evaluation.
- Only PHP/MYSQL packages are included. If you’re looking for .NET, Rails or Servlet solutions you’ll need to look somewhere else.
- The installations are plain, vanilla, out of the box; no extra plugins, modules or themes. So in Drupal, for example, you won’t see a WYSIWYG editor even though there are several available.
Although the site’s focus is on content management systems it’s fairly broad in its definitions, including blogs, forums, shopping carts, project management systems and e-learning applications in the mix.
I use this site intensively three or four times a year. Each time I use it I save time and effort, quickly drawing up a shortlist of applications that meet my needs or my clients’ needs.