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Another common trade-off with content management systems is that they vary in flexi-
bility. Some, such as photo galleries, are built to handle specific kinds of content. You
wouldn't use photo gallery software to manage an online news site, for example. Others
are more flexible. For example, Drupal is designed as a generic content management sys-
tem for any type of content. Generally speaking, the more flexible a content management
system is, the more work it is to set up. So, if you know you're publishing a photo
gallery, setting up a photo gallery package probably makes more sense than setting up a
general-purpose content management system and customizing it to present photos.
In Lesson 20, “Putting Your Site Online,” I talked about the various options for web
hosting. A similar set of options is available when it comes to content management sys-
tems. You can write your own. This provides the most flexibility, but it can be a huge
amount of work. You can install and manage an application that someone else wrote and
customize it for your own needs. Generally, to go this route, you need your own server or
at least an account with a web hosting provider. The final option is to sign up for a
hosted application. For many kinds of web applications, free versions are even available.
They make sure that the servers stay up and that the application is running properly, and
you just focus on entering your content and making whatever customizations are avail-
able. Hosted applications are generally the least flexible, but they're also the easiest to
get started with.
Types of Content Management Systems
Content management systems can be sorted into rough categories. As you've probably
figured out, there's more to it than just deciding to use a content management system.
You have to figure out what type of content you have and which content management
system makes the most sense for you. In some cases, multiple content management sys-
tems may be the answer. You might prefer to publish your writing using a blogging tool
and to publish your photos using a photo gallery application. Here's a discussion of some
common types of content management systems.
Blogging Tools
It seems you can't escape the term weblog (or more commonly, blog ) these days. A web
log is just a website where new items are published in reverse chronological order. The
items can be articles, links, recipes, photos, or anything else. Generally the most recent
items are displayed on the front page, the site maintains an archive of earlier material,
and in many cases the site allows users to publish comments of their own. You can find
blogs on just about any topic of interest, and increasingly blogs are integrated into other
types of websites. For example, many magazines and newspapers publish blogs as part of
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