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CMS Survey: Review of Samizdat

From: Dmitry Borodaenko
Subject: CMS Survey: Review of Samizdat
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 02:00:19 +0000

Below is a comparison of Samizdat to other CMSes in the CMS Survey[1]
(mainly Drupal, Plone, Wordpress, and Spip: reports on others are
incomplete), followed by conclusion on how it fares and what are its
drawbacks and strong points.


What We Have

Anonymous open publishing (3) - universal, only Spip doesn't have it out
of the box

Syndication (2) - lack of RSS import is a big drawback

Comments (3) - universal, only Spip is behind

Categories (3) - universal, though no other CMSes are reported to allow
open editing of categories

Search (3) - lack of fast full-text search is compensated by RDF
searchability, which takes some figuring out, but is more useful

Features (3) - no open decision-making process is reported in other
CMSes, Wordpress is even further behind others

Calendar (0) - another major drawback of Samizdat: basic calendar is
included in all other CMSes

Multimedia handling (2) - usable enough, but laggin behind other CMSes
(not as urgent as other drawbacks as it's not yet important to people on
the other side of the digital divide)

The ability to create multiple instances (3) - universal, Spip is behind

Easy mirroring capability (3) - only there in Drupal and Plone, both are
not reported to be easier than in Samizdat

Good performance on affordable hardware (2) - only Plone report contains
solid numbers, Samizdat offers same peak performance on a 2x slower

Customisability (3) - universal

Internationalisation (3) - universal

Translations (3) - no other CMS fully matches Samizdat functionality

Easy moderation (3) - information on exact range of moderation features
is not reported anywhere, quite possible that Samizdat is ahead of
others in making moderation both easy and transparent

Anti-abuse measures (0) - another major drawback of Samizdat, other
systems have at least plugins

Documentation (2) - not as extensive as other CMSes, but the engine is
much leaner and simpler, too

Scaling (3) - universal (more or less)

What We Want

User logins (3) - universal

User logins (network wide) (0) - only CMS-specific in other CMSes

Access controls (2) - not as extensive as in some other CMSes, but
enough for any non-authoritarian site

Notify moderator button (0) - not in other CMSes, either

Anti-bot systems (0) - same drawback as "Anti-abuse measures", move

User moderation - Open editing (3) - not clear from Drupal and Plone
reports how Samizdat compares to these two, and it is ahead of others

User profiles (2) - not as good as others, but will become much better

Version control (2) - universal

Podcasting/Vodcasting (0) - behind others, but see previous note on
digital divide

User notifications (0) - definitely a drawback, not sure how important
it is

Customizable skins by users (3) - universal (more or less)

Accessibility (2) - no fancy certificates, but no shortcomings reported

GIS (0) - only Plone has something

Photo galleries (1) - same drawback as "Multimedia handling"

Image Manipulation (0) - ditto

P2P integration (2) - Plone has something better, but see note on
digital divide

Social networking - Filtering systems (1) - nothing mature in other
systems, either, it's still in research stage

WYSIWYG Editor (1) - lack of JavaScript HTML editor is a drawback worth

Tagging (3) - Samizdat still seems to be ahead of others, although this
concept is now finally catching on

Cross Site Search (0) - only Spip has something

Licencing options (0) - as discussed on IRC, not something we really

Redundancy (DB content storage) (2) - not reported in other systems

Easy installation (2) - not ideal, but on par with Drupal and Plone, and
easier than Spip (that is, if you don't want to compromise on security)

Documented APIs (3) - quite different in approach and size from Drupal
and Plone, but not in a better-or-worse sense

Software modularity (3) - no other CMS can match Samizdat on
maintainability: design is not perfect but as good as others, and code
size is much much smaller

Healthy community behind (2) - community is tiny, but entirely Indymedia
oriented, which makes it much easier to steer Samizdat development in
the needed direction, not to mention the softwre being
anti-authoritarian by design


Major drawbacks that allow no excuses and need to be worked on as first
priority: RSS import (patch available and will be integrated soon),
anti-abuse/anti-bot measures (including notify moderator button),
calendar (at least in a basic form). Once these features are
implemented, there won't be other reason not to choose Samizdat over
other CMSes for Indymedia purposes.

Other weak spots (bells and whistles, but of the kind that users are
increasingly expecting to have for granted): multimedia handling
(including photo galleries, image manipulation, podcasting/vodcasting),
WYSIWYG editor, user profiles and social networking.

Areas of improvement (things that can't be called drawbacks, but still
are worth working on): performance and mirroring, P2P integration,
OpenID support, user notifications, GIS, developer community.

Strong points. First of all, it's complete openness and transparency in
all aspects of operation: publishing and editing, categorization and
feature articles, moderation. No other CMS pays special attention to
having everything possible decided by all users and accountable to all

Next in order of importance is support for multi-lingual communities.
Samizdat is not that far ahead here, but still no other CMS seems to go
beyond switching between language specific site versions. Samizdat goes
the extra mile to make sure every user gets the content that matches the
list of languages they can understand.

Using RDF as underlying data model has a lot of potential, current
search capabilities of Samizdat show the direction where this can go,
even though current implementation is not even 10% of what can be done
in this area. Semantic Web is still far from widespread adoption, but
once it's there, we won't understand how we coped without it.

Last but not the least is maintainability. For the number of features it
already has, Samizdat code is really tiny, and it grows slower than
linearly as new features are added. It is well documented from developer
point of view, no one ever complained about it being hard to understand.
Comparison of the "amount of developer time spent to useful
functionality" ratio is also in Samizdat's favor, showing how easy it is
to add new capabilities. And to keep it secure.

Dmitry Borodaenko

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