Offline Systems Montreal Programmers



Corporate Overview

Blog / Articles

Custom Content Management Systems

Web Programming and Design Services

Hosting and Domain Registration Services

2576 rue Des Ormeaux, Suite B, Montreal, Quebec, H1L 4X5


Our Content Management System
Offline Systems has worked on developing an in-house fully functional, multi-tier content management system over the last ten years. Our CMS is in its second revision (Drive ver 2.6.3 aka Drive2) and has been fully tested to work on a LAMP infrastructure. Developed in Montreal, Canada the software had to handle both English and French content seemelessly. As a result, unlike most other CMS's, Drive2 was built on the premis of being able to manage multi-lingual content. The software provides multi-level administrator accounts that can be locked down to prevent or allow access to specific admin functions.

What is a CMS?
The term CMS is being thrown around a lot in the industry. The definition varies from company to company and from programmer to programmer.

Everyone agrees that a content management system is any system that allows you to quickly and 'easily' (easily is subjective) update, add or remove content on a website. How easily it is to update, add or remove content is where the variations start to come in. Some content management systems still require expert skills in HTML, others (like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla) though easier to use are more difficult to implement.

The ones that require expert understanding of HTML usually have some sort of basic file structure that can be modified and uploaded to a server via FTP. The CMS kicks in by taking the HTML content and generating pages from a basic template. The pages are determined by some sort of XML or database. And the pages are generated on the fly by the server. For an expert programmer this kind of system is very quick and very flexible to use. A system like this is usually extremely simple to implement and can be set up very quickly. The problem is that for the average person this system would be cumbersome and confusing. For the average person, updating content would be almost impossible.

Other CMS's are easier to use. Once they are set up, web administrators are given a username and password and provided with a control panel to update their site. The problems with these types of systems is that initial set up can be fairly complex. Once they are installed they still need to be configured properly. The site's administrator also has a lot of power over their site, but if not used properly, they could easily mess up their existing pages. If you don't have some sort of basic understanding of site structure, you could still find these systems difficult to navigate and use.

Our Drive2 CMS is different in that we custom-program our backends to meet your specific needs. We incorporate the way you are used to working and make the software conform to you. We tailor your access to your level of experience and as you gain experience using our software, we can hand you more control. The ultimate goal is to give you complete control over your site and your content, in a controlled, supported way.

Why Did You Build Your Own CMS?
We are often asked by many of our customers: why did you bother building your own CMS? The answer is simple: ten years ago, modern CMS's did not exist. The ones that did could not handle multi-lingual content. The ones that were available could not incorporate SEO friendly code. For the clients that we had, the CMS's that existed simply could not keep up with what we needed. Fast forward ten years and we have access to core code that has been tried and tested and exists to meet all of our client's specific needs. If modifications needs to be made, they can be made quickly and effectively because we know the code inside and out.

Why Should We Use Your CMS Over WordPress, Drupal or Joomla?
Regardless of what CMS you end up going with, you are going to run into a few obsticles when you first start off. You have to figure out how to install the software onto your server. You have to configure the software to work properly. Once you have done all that, if you are planning to use the software to manage content in any way other than originally intended, you now have to install a plugin, configure that, and find any bugs or problems that this new plugin could cause. If there is a problem, you can either modify the code of the offending plugin, change the code behind the theme you have installed, or uninstall whatever it is that is causing the problem. When searching for a plugin, you will need to read the descriptions carefully to make sure it does what you want it to do. When you install the plugin, you have to back up your site and database just in case the new plugin causes major problems with your pre-existing site. If everything goes well, you now have a plugin that sort of does what you need it to do.

When we first take on a project, we start by designing the functionality of the site and getting approval on the structure. Once everything on paper makes sense to the client and they are satisfied with how they are going to manage content on their site, we get to work on installing the code. Once the basic core programming has been installed, we build our modules to client's exact specifications. By working from the ground up, we make sure that Drive2 works in accordance to our clients needs. We identify the functions that need to be created and custom build their project. The development time is about the same, the testing time is usually shorter and the end result is far superior.

What About Search Engine Optimization?
Though many SEO solutions exist for current CMS's, Drive2 actually has SEO functionality built into its multi-lingual content management system. With Drive2, you can specify URLs in the Menu / Page Management Tool, our inventory systems auto-generate SEO-friendly URLs, even our blog and photo galleries have been developed with search engine optimization in mind. Our latest projects also have integrated social networking features that help with site visibility.

Conclusion.
If you are looking for a simple site and you like experimenting with other people's code, then you have access to a variety of different CMS's that you can implement yourself or with very little professional help. As long as you are willing to conform to the limitations of existing CMS's and you do not plan on growing your site beyond the limitations of the software, you should be ok. If you are a larger organization with specific needs and you are looking to find software to conform to your needs, then a customized CMS is what you are looking for. We can work around the way you work, we can grow and plan around your forecasts. We take online marketing into account and make sure to do what we can to make you site work for you and not the other way around.

Copyright Offline Systems 2012. 3398 rue Evelyn, Montreal, Quebec, H4G 1P2. 514 803 8131.