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How Do Content Management Systems Work?

How Do Content Management Systems Work?
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All of us know, what is a CMS, or do we? Though WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento etc. have become common tools in the online publishing industry, we know little about them. To put things in straight terms how many of us actually know how content management system work, what goes inside into publishing the content accessible to billions of people on the Internet. If you read through the reviews of the top CMS tools you would come across description and explanation of the features and functionalities of the CMS tools, but most of them miss out on explaining how these tools and technologies fundamentally work. Here in this brief write-up we shall try to increase your knowledge around the working of Content Management Systems.

What Is A Content Management System?

It is a web based tool that allows you to create and manage a website. This is the most unsophisticated definition of what is Content Management System that you would come across. While it is fundamentally true, it is factually incorrect. Content Management Systems’ application extends beyond web publishing and they can also be used in the print media industry, creating PDF documents, mobile applications and even print bills for retail industry. But since most users relate to them has web publishing tools, we shall stick to this narrative. We won’t dig deep into the technical aspects of how the content is created or published but look so of the fundamentals behind the world of a CMS.

Modular Architecture & Database

Content Management Systems have a modular architecture where small individual modules are responsible for performing different tasks. This includes anything and everything right from the time the content is being generated to the time it is being published. While some of these modules come by default others can be added easily based on your needs. For instance modules responsible for creating a slide show would generate a slide show while others may be used to keep track of visitors to the site. Modern websites generate tons of data and the CMS would use a database to store and organize large volumes of data in the back-end. The system would fetch this data from the back-end database whenever a request is generated at the client’s end.

CMS Workflow

All CMSs have workflow that allows you to create a new content, edit it, save it and publish the content whenever you feel is suitable. Within this workflow there are several steps that define the individuality of the content management systems. While the workflow process or how they allow you to publish the content may vary, certain steps are common between most content management system and we shall now take a look at some of the important steps in the workflow process.

Download CMS – Most CMS applications need to be downloaded and then installed into your FTP server. For this you would have to download a zipped format of the CMS and install on the FTP. Most hosting service providers make it easy for you to install CMSs such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal and require no downloads. Once the CMS has been installed on your server, you would need to link it to the domain and create the subfolders and the directories.

User Permission – CMS tools are easily accessible from anywhere in the world via username and password authentication method. Once you have created the admin account you would be able to create account for other users and define their permission levels. The custom permission levels would allow users to access only those sections of the site and conduct business as they have been permitted for.

Design & Visual Appearance – Templates or themes define the visual appearance of a website or blog. Most content management systems come with pre-set templates that allow you to begin updating the site immediately. Apart from this you can also use readily available free and premium third-party themes or get one designed from scratch to meet your needs. One of the fundamental functions of the theme is to apply the same layout consistently throughout your site.

Create & Publish Content – Modern content management systems come with WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors that allows users to publish content without having to write a line of code. From editing images to formatting texts these tools allow users to easily create and publish the content.

Store Data – Whether or not the content is published or available to the world, Content Management Systems help in storing data that include documents, pictures, video files. You would reserve the right to make this information public or restrict the right to view using a permission based system.

Content Management Systems are constantly evolving and helping users and make their websites ever more interesting and interactive. As a user it would pay dividends to know the fundamental workings of the content management systems before you use them.

Varun Bhagat is a technology geek and works with PixelCrayons as a Sr. Technology Consultant. He possesses in-depth knowledge of different web development technology and helps our clients to choose the best technology as per their needs.

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