This was the story of being a webmaster in the mid-'90s, before content management arrived. It was a tedious experience of manually managing hundreds of files, making sure you had multiple backups of everything, and trying to cobble together a toolset that gave you some modicum of control.
Fast-forward almost 20 years, and web technologies have evolved to remove most of the tedium. Today’s web manager largely works with abstract notions of content rather than actual files, without needing to understand the underlying technology, file system, or programming languages.
But even abstracting content from technology has still left us with eternal problems to solve: How do we structure or “model” our content? How do we allow for its organization? How do we search it? How do we work together on content without causing conflicts?
This book is an attempt to approach web content management from the outside, without pushing any particular technology or methodology. It is designed for readers who want to understand the larger context in which a specific content management system (CMS) might work, or understand the underlying content management problems that any particular system will need to solve.
Additionally, this book is intended to be language- and platform-agnostic. I will discuss many different systems, technologies, and platforms. I neither explicitly endorse nor condemn any of them. I have made an attempt to draw examples and screen captures from a wide variety of systems.
One of the challenges of writing this book has been coming up with different phrasing to subdivide the entire domain of CMSs into groups. In the following pages, you’ll see countless phrases such as “most systems,” “some systems,” and “almost all systems,” as well as a lot of qualifiers such as “rare,” “uncommon,” “often,” “sometimes,” and “usually.”