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These days there are a lot of awesome Content Management System options out there that make our jobs as developers and website publishers so much easier! As the need for businesses and website owners to maintain an up-to-date web presence continue to grow, content management systems will only gain in popularity with developers and users.
So take a moment and look over the list below of the 30 best Open Source Free Content Management Systems and Toolbox 2012 Edition options available that it can be confusing to know which one is best for a particular situation, and to know the basics of what is available. In this post we’ll take a quick look at a number of different CMS options and provide some links that will help you to dig deeper with those that interest you.
And don’t forget to let us know in the comments section which is your favorite CMS and why!
Joomla is also a popular open source CMS that originated from Mambo. Of all of the open source options, I’ve seen more mixed opinions on Joomla than any of the others. It has a large community of users, and it is intended to allow developers to build all kinds of websites, including corporate, e-commerce, online magazines, intranets, and more.
Joomla Documentation - Official documentation for users, designers, and developers.
Joomla Forums - The official forums for Joomla users and developers.
Joomla Developer’s Toolbox - My collection at Smashing Magazine of resources for Joomla developers.
Joomla Based - A gallery of sites built on Joomla.
Best of Joomla - Another gallery of Joomla sites.
Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. Tens of thousands of people and organizations are using Drupal to power scores of different web sites
Drupal Handbooks - If you’re getting started with Drupal or just looking for some documentation, the handbooks can be a great resource.
Drupal Forums - Get some help from the Drupal community through the official forums.
Drupal Developer’s Toolbox - My collection at Smashing Magazine for Drupal development-related resources.
Drupal White Papers, Cheatsheets and Free Books - MyDrupal.com has a nice collection of useful resources for developers.
Drupal Sites - A gallery of websites powered by Drupal.
Create a Killer Band Site with Drupal - GoMediaZine has a six-part tutorial that leads you through the process of building a site with Drupal. Of course, this is a great resource even if it’s not a band site that you want to build.
WordPress is probably the most popular open source CMS right now. While it started out as just a blogging platform, WordPress now provides developers and users with the opportunity to build just about any type of website on its system. The standard WordPress installation provides most of the necessary functionalities you would expect in a CMS, and there are plenty of plugins that can bring added functionality.
WordPress Codex - Provides documentation of just about everything you will need when working with WordPress.
WordPress Forums - With WordPress’s active community of users, the forums are a great place to turn when you have questions.
WordPress Developer’s Toolbox - A post that I put together for Smashing Magazine with all kinds of resources for those who develop WordPress themes.
How to Be a Rockstar WordPress Designer - An ebook by Collis Ta’eed and Harley Alexander that is available for purchase.
Designing for WordPress Series - Chris Coyier’s series of tutorials for designing and developing for WordPress.
CushyCMS is a Content Management Systems (CMS) that is truly simple. It’s free for unlimited users, unlimited changes, unlimited pages and unlimited sites.
Set Up a Client’s Site to be Editable with CushyCMS - A tutorial that I wrote for getting started with CushyCMS.
How to Build a Maintainable Site Using CushyCMS and Twitter - A tutorial from Collis Ta’eed that covers the basics of working with CushyCMS.
CushyCMS - Simplicity at its Best - A basic overview of CushyCMS by the Positive Space blog.
The SilverStripe CMS is a flexible open source Content Management System that gives everyone involved in a web project the tools they need to do their jobs.
Sapphire - Sapphire is the framework developed to build sites for SilverStripe.
SilverStripe Forums - Get help from the community of SilverStripe users.
Tutorial: Building a Basic Site with SilverStripe - A good starting point for working with the CMS.
Plone is an open source CMS built with Python. Plone claims to have the best security track record of any major CMS.
Plone Documentation - Official documentation for working with Plone.
Plone Support Forums - Get answers for your questions from the Plone community.
Plone Tutorials - Learn more about Plone from these tutorials covering various topics.
The Secretary is an open source CMS (PHP/MySQL) that is specially built for creative people who are in need of displaying their portfolios.
You can create projects, add items to each project (can be images, videos or sounds) and even group these items to present them in a custom way/look.The application has a simple and powerful backend that mostly works with drag'n drops and enables users to create any number of web pages besides creating a portfolio.
MODx helps you take control of your online content. An Open Source PHP application framework, it frees you to build sites exactly how you want and make them 100% yours. Zero restrictions and fast to build. Super-simple templates in regular HTML/CSS/JS (any lib you want). Registered user systems and a killer community. Welcome to web-building nirvana.
MODx Developer: A web development discussion focusing on MODx, PHP, MySQL, jQuery and some other stuff.
Get the Source from Subversion: Subversion (SVN) repositories allow you to monitor commits to the trunk of our source code and keep up to date with the latest development activity.
MODx Documentation: Whenever possible, please be consistent with the layout already in place. MODx 0.9.6 Documentation. Getting Started · What is MODx · Installation ...
Installation Options: MODx is an open source PHP Application Framework that helps you take control of your online content. It empowers developers and advanced users to give as much control as desired to whomever they desire for day-to-day website content maintenance chores.
The fully functional GPL version of dotCMS continues to forge ahead – providing bleed–edge features and the latest code to a thriving community of developers and users.
dotCMS demo: There are a number of ways you can see and learn more about the dotCMS. We offer the following dotCMS demonstrations
dotCMS on Twitter: dotCMS Open Source is a free, non-warranted and non-crippled wCMS. We are always pushing dotCMS Open Source farther and faster than our competition
dotCMS Video Tutorials: The Web Office is currently in the process of putting together a full video tutorial series that will outline all of the tasks, both basic and advanced, that you do on a day to day basis in dotCMS
Frog CMS is a PHP version of Radiant CMS. Like Radiant CMS, it aims to be a simple solution for your content management needs.
Frog CMS Resources:
Official Documentation - Learn all the basics of Frog CMS from the docs.
Frog CMS Forums - Get answers to your questions from the community of users.
Composite is a free and open source content management system based on the Microsoft .NET 4 platform.
It has all the standard features that can be expected from a CMS and has much more like a SEO assistant or built-in image editor.
The application can be controlled by users from every level as it is possible to set a different "publication workflow" for different user roles.
Radiant is a no-fluff, open source content management system designed for small teams that was built on Ruby on Rails. It gives an endless list of awesome features and is definitely worth checking out.
Radiant CMS Resources:
Radiant CMS Documentation - The best source of information for Radiant CMS users and developers.
Radiant CMS Tutorial - A basic tutorial for getting started with Radiant CMS.
A CMS made for Marketing, but strong enough for Geeks! Concrete5 is an open source content management system. It’s revolutionary – and it’s free.
Concrete5 Forums - You can interact with other users and get your questions answered in the official forums.
Concrete5: Site Building Toolkit -Some basic information on c5 from Web Resources Depot.
C5Mix - Concrete5 tutorials, themes, tips & more.
Pimcore is a feature-rich and robust PHP content management system, that is built with Zend Framework, for creating and managing digital content + assets.
The interface is powered with ExtJS and almost all editing is done via drag 'n' drops.
It is possible to work on multiple documents at the same time with the help of the multi-tabbed usage.
TYPOlight CMS is a web CMS that Uses Ajax and Web 2.0 technologies, has a live update feature for those of us who have multiple blogs, gives multi-language support and hosts a ton of other great features
TYPOlight CMS Resources:
TYPOlight webCMS - TYPOlight Showcase: Please only submit websites built with TYPOlight. Submitted sites will be published once reviewed. Please allow a few days for submissions to be featured. ...
TYPOlight webCMS on Twitter: All happenings relating to this accessible web content management system, which is based on PHP5 and MySQL.
development of TYPOlight webCMS: This website is the base of the ongoing development of TYPOlight webCMS. It provides additional information and documents for TYPOlight users and system ...
TYPOlight Tutorials: This section contains useful tutorials for TYPOlight which have been created by other TYPOlight users. All tutorial contributions will be greatly ...
ExpressionEngine is a flexible, feature-rich content management system that empowers thousands of individuals, organizations, and companies around the world to easily manage their website. If you’re tired of the limitations of your current CMS then take ExpressionEngine for a spin…
Learn ExpressionEngine with Video Tutorials: Learn ExpressionEngine quickly with a series of easy to follow screencast tutorials and video training.
Building Websites with ExpressionEngine: Go from the basics of setting up ExpressionEngine to creating professional ExpressionEngine websites with this concise, practical guide.
ExpressionEngine Developer's Toolbox: While open-source CMS options like WordPress get a lot of attention from bloggers and designers, ExpressionEngine is a powerful, robust choice that many ...
Pligg is an open source CMS that specializes in allowing developers to create social networking sites where users can submit an vote for content. Sites such as Sphinn and Design Float are built on Pligg.
Pligg Forums - Get answers to your questions from the Pligg community.
Understanding Pligg Template Files - A good starting point for those who want to understand more about how Pligg works.
Setting Up a News-Voting Website with Pligg - This tutorial will take you through the steps of getting your own site set up with Pligg.
50+ Free Pligg Templates | Fresh Pligg Themes
Pligg, LLC on Twitter: Pligg is an open source CMS that creates a site where registered members submit and publish news and rank other articles based on the quality of content.
Pligg Templates: PliggTemplates.eu is the most popular Pligg Templates Club. We have a large resource of free and professional Pligg templates, BlogNews November 2008 New
SEO for pligg CMS: PLIGG is an Open source Social Networking CMS Combining social bookmarking and blogging, which enables users to submit and vote for articles.
GoodBarry is another CMS that offers reseller options to designers who want to provide a branded solution to their clients. GoodBarry’s emphasis is growing online businesses, so e-commerce functionality is a big part of what they do, although other CMS functions are also included.
GoodBarry Forums -Support forums from GoodBarry.
ReSeller Information - Learn about using GoodBarry on client sites and making some additional income.
GoodBarry Videos - Video tutorials and information.
GoodBarry Review - Design Shack covers the basics of GoodBarry in this review.
Typo3 is a powerful, free, open source CMS. Typo3 has a lot of features and can be used to run large websites for many different purposes.
Typo3.org - Provides of all the documentation and developer’s resources for the community of users.
Typo3 tutorial - Siteground has a tutorial series that will help you to get started with Typo3.
Creating TYPO3 Templates: You are probably familiar with the concept of templates from other content management systems. The basic principle of TYPO3 templates is, however, ...
Typo3 templates at osskins.com: Joomla templates, Drupal themes, Typo3 templates, Wordpress themes, Mambo templates, custom web design, CMS, professional templates, free templates, ...
TYPO3 Template Design Guide: The TYPO3 Templates are structured and ordered like this: * One Maintemplate in the root of the site. This Template hasn't much Code in it, ...
Movable Type is another popular CMS that has a few different options depending on your needs. There is an open source version available for developers, plus a free version for individual bloggers. For larger companies, prices start at $395. Movable Type can be used for blogs, websites, and social networks.
Movable Type Resources:
Movable Type Open Source Project - A community effort, led by Six Apart, devoted to building and maintaining the open source version of Movable Type.
Movable Type Documentation - Official documentation for using and working with Movable Type.
Movable Type Forms - A great place to find answers to your questions about.
Movable Type Developer’s Toolbox - My collection at Smashing Magazine for those who want to develop with Movable Type.
Movable Type Showcase - MovableType.com includes a showcase of sites for your inspiration.
LiteCommerce is an open source and free e-commerce application that integrates with Drupal to make use of the powerful CMS capabilities.
The connection to Drupal is optional and it can also work as a standalone online store.
Unlimited number of products or categories can be created, a product can belong to multiple categories and it has support for inventory tracking.
Free of license cost solution for Enterprise Web Content Management Based on Microsoft .NET Framework with 8 major releases since 2001 Built and funded by Axinom through investments, projects and partners Tailored to accommodate web sites in a price range of 5.000 to 500.000 USD Partner Product Framework for high-end web based solutions and ecommerce sites One Face to the Partner – Axinom is responsible for the quality of the product
Contenido, the successful Content Management System, has a new image. A new logo freshly represents what Contenido has already been for a long time: Easy to use, modularly expandable, successful on the market for over five years and free of license costs.
ProcessWire is an open source CMS application that is built with PHP and simplicity in mind.
The application has a very low learning curve as there is no complexity and it is pretty developer/designer friendly considering it's built to adapt to your way of doing things.
With the help of a jQuery-inspired API (a big "plus" for jQuery fans), it gives you the tools to reach data, but you make the markup.
ImpressPages is an open source CMS application where you can create and edit while browsing.
Creating new themes requires only the knowledge of HTML-CSS and with the help of a drag 'n' drop interface, texts, videos, photos (or photo galleries) and even forms can be inserted quickly + positioned as you wish.
The application is SEO friendly with the URLs generated, automated sitemap and ability to edit meta tags for all pages.
Multilanguage websites are handled in a very flexible way; once a new language is added and the content is created, users can be auto-forwarded to the language matching the setting of their browsers.
Textpattern is an open source content management system, built with PHP/MySQL, that offers a flexible usage for designers, publishers/bloggers and end-users.
The application uses built-in tags for retrieving and displaying dynamic content which gives you a complete control over the content and presentation.
With a minimalist admin interface that can be used by an unlimited number of admin users (with custom privileges), Textpattern has the capability to build any type of website with sections, categories and different page layouts.
Bricolage is an open-source and enterprise-class content management system that makes creating, managing and publishing content very easy.
It is built with Perl, uses MySQL or PostgreSQL for storing data and has a powerful templating system (Mason, Template Toolkit, or PHP).
With the help of this templating system and the flexibility offered on every step, it is possible to build any type of websites.
WordPress is, without a doubt, a very powerful CMS application which makes creating and managing any type of website pretty easy.
Press2Flash is an open source AS3 framework that helps Flash developers to integrate their Flash-powered websites with the backend of this awesome CMS.
It uses XML for communicating with the WordPress API and there are no hacks or workarounds (so the system stays secure).
Besides creating, editing and deleting the contents, there is also support for other functions like featured images, tag cloud and more.
Fork is an open source content management system that offers a user-friendly environment for building and managing a website.
It is built with PHP (uses Spoon)-MySQL and there are various mature extensions offered like a form builder, blogging, location, analytics (integrates with Google Analytics) or newsletter.
A few number of high-quality themes are offered for free to easily get started and also learn how it integrates with HTML.
GoCart is an open source e-commerce application which is focused on offering an easy to use/customize solution and not having a huge number of features but only the important ones.
It can have unlimited categories, tiered categories with any depth, unlimited products-product images-options and can display related items.
The built-in shipping methods include a flat or table rate, USPS, FedEx + UPS and has support for Paypal, Authorize.net and "COD (collect on delivery)" payment methods.
Centurion is an open source application which is both a fully-functional CMS and a base/framework for building project-specific content management/admin systems.
It is built on top of Zend and comes with features like user/comment/navigation management, social sign-in, internal search and more besides the handling of content.
A single installation can control multiple sites and the sites can have multiple languages.