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Open Source CMS vs Custom Programming PHP/ MYSQL

Custom Programming vs Open Source CMS

When you use need to create an application you can be faced with a decision to use an open source cms like Joomla, WordPress or Drupal, or build it from scratch. The answer is not very cut and dry. It depends upon your objectives. If you are very familiar with a cms, you may hear a client’s needs then know an open source cms could make the application in a heartbeat.  Since your read on the client was little or no changes, it could be the obvious choice. In addition to the scratch or open source cms argument,  you could always look for custom php/mysql scripts to do the job. Generally, the pure language coding is much better performance than an open source cms, and possibly easier to edit and update. A quick trial and a quick look at the code could let you know what you are in for. If you know procedural php/mySQL and can understand PHP OOP you will not have surprises.

However, if quality is a concern and specialization could be ongoing, a custom script could be the best bet. Using a language like PHP / mySQL in its pure form is always more flexible to use and build than creating a custom open source extension. For example, when I look at all the files assembled to make a custom form with a Joomla extension, it blows me away how distorted the system is when it could have been done in a couple of hours using a single file. If you can custom program and build CRUD applications by memory just by reading database tables and writing code, you are no faced with a no-brainer decision.

Beware: Look Good and Grow With Open Source CMS

When you use an open source cms for a development, you can often bridge the gap between your actual skill level and how you look on the web. It can allow a non-programmer to sell developments but not understand what the coding does. Although assembling can be easier, editing the code is another story. If you really want to follow the CMS into a new level, you will need to become familiar with its own libraries and file structures. Alternatively, you can always make custom applications using the cms database tables but not use the actual cms files. Here is where you can have the best of both worlds.

The problem in using an open source cms is that the coding is not as flexible as building an application in the PHP / mySQL language. For example, if you have strong php / mySQL skills, a solid login system, know how to handle data from the database, can create forms quickly and understand sessions inside and out, you can make data and imagery do whatever you want with much faster and leaner code.  In other words, if you really want to change the code around to accommodate a client, changing an open source cms extension could be long drawn out nightmare opposed to using 1 lean file which could be edited before you even know which files you need to edit.