What is a Content Management System CMS - Definition and types

What is a CMS? (content management System)


A content management system (in English Content Management System, abbreviated CMS ) is a program that allows you to create a support structure (framework) for the creation and administration of content, mainly on web pages, by administrators, publishers, participants, and other roles.

It consists of an interface that controls one or several databases where the content of the website is hosted.
The system allows managing independently the content and the design. Thus, it is possible to manage the content and give a different design to the website at any time without having to format the content again, as well as allowing easy and controlled publication on the site to several publishers.
A classic example is that of editors that upload content to the system and another higher level (moderator or administrator) that allows these contents to be visible to the public (approves).


The first content management systems were developed by organizations that published a large amount of content on the Internet, and needed continuous updates; as:
  • Online magazines
  • Newspapers
  • corporate publications
In 1995, the technology news site CNET released its document management and publishing system and created a company called Vignette, a pioneer of commercial content management systems.
The evolution of the Internet towards portals with more content and the high participation of users directly, through blogs and social networks, has made content managers an essential tool on the Internet, both for companies and institutions and for people.
The wikis systems and groupware are also considered CMS.
Today there are systems developed in free and non-free software. In both cases implementation is necessary to adapt the content manager to the graphic scheme and desired functionalities.
For certain managers, there are many templates available that allow simple implementation of the aesthetic part by a user without design knowledge. The paradigm of this case is WordPress, manager on which there is a large community of extension developers (called plugins ) and template (called themes ).

Characteristics of a CMS

The content manager is a computer application used to create, edit, manage and publish digital multimedia content in various formats.
The content manager generates dynamic web pages interacting with the webserver to create the web page at the user's request, with the predefined format and the content extracted from the server database.
This allows to manage, under a standardized format , the server information, reducing the size of the pages for download and reducing the cost of managing the portal with respect to a static website, in which every design change must be made in all web pages, in the same way, that every time content is added, a new HTML page must be mockup and uploaded to the webserver.

Other initial considerations

Understood as a support system for content management; since, in fact, it is communication strategies that really lead to managing content and advertising effectively; computer systems can at most provide the necessary tools for online publication, or include decision support services for content management.
The content manager is generally applied to refer to publication systems, and the support and maintenance functionalities may be underestimated, to the detriment of the functionalities related to the optimization of publication times.
The correct implementation of the system, according to the needs of the client is necessary, and it is necessary to understand the project of a web portal within a well-structured and structured communication project.
The choice of the correct platform will be vital to achieving the client's objectives since they exempt differential features both in their adaptability to graphic schemes and the possible integration of additional features and extensions.
The search engine optimization is related to the volume content of a portal and how it is presented. It is important to keep that in mind for the structure of the portal to ensure proper organic positioning.


A content management system always works on the webserver where the portal is hosted. Access to the manager is usually done through the web browser, and the use of FTP may be required to upload content.
When a user accesses a URL, that call is executed on the server, the graphic outline is selected and the corresponding data are entered in the database. The page is generated dynamically for that user, the final HTML code is generated in that call. Normally, several content presentation formats are predefined in the manager to give him the flexibility to create new sections and information.

User Management

Depending on the platform chosen, different levels of access for users may be chosen; going from the portal administrator to the user without editing permission, or content creator. Depending on the application, there may be several intermediate permits that allow content editing, monitoring, and republication of other users' content, etc.
The content management system controls and helps manage each step of this process, including the technical tasks of publishing the documents to one or more sites. In many sites with these systems, a single person plays the role of creator and editor, as for example in personal blogs.

Types of content managers

Content managers can be classified according to different criteria:


According to the programming language used, such as:
  • Active Server Pages
  • Java
  • PHP
  • Ruby On Rails
  • Python


  • Open Source
  • Proprietary software


  • Blogs; designed for personal pages
  • Forums; thought to share opinions.
  • Wikis; designed for collaborative development.
  • Teaching; a platform for teaching contents
  • on-line.
  • Electronic commerce; management platform
  • users, catalog, purchases and payments.
  • Digital publications
  • Dissemination of multimedia content.
  • General-purpose

Standardization initiatives

Within the portals, standardization processes have been carried out aimed at homogenization in their programming interfaces in such a way that a service developed for a portal can be executed in any other portal compatible with the standard. The objective is to obtain interoperable portals avoiding proprietary development.
The two most important initiatives are the Portlet Specification API JSR-168, the Content Repository API JSR-170

Advantages and opportunities

The content manager facilitates access to the publication of content to a wider range of users. It allows that without programming knowledge or layout any user can add content in the web portal.


  • Dynamic management of users and permissions
  • The collaboration of several users in the same job
  • Interaction through communication tools.
The information management costs are much lower since a link in the publication chain, the layout maker, is removed. The layout is done at the beginning of the process of implementing the content manager.
The update, backup, and restructuring of the portal are much simpler by having all the vital data of the portal, the contents, in a structured database on the server.

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