Comparing Content Management Systems

There are a lot of good open source Content Management Systems out there and I’m sure we all know some of the big ones in the market. There is a slight problem with so many good alternatives out there and that is which one to choose? Let’s take a look at the two biggest open source Content Management Systems for .NET developers; DotNetNuke and Umbraco.

Both of these systems are constantly updated and improved by a core team of developers. They both have plugins that are constantly updated and bugs are routinely squashed. So what are the fundamental differences?


DotNetNuke is currently the most popular .NET CMS with a user base in the hundreds of thousands and millions of downloads. Some key points around DotNetNuke are:

- Written in VB.Net which is an easy-to-learn programming language.
- Easy installation process – using the Web Platform Installer makes this process even easier. It’s also easy to install on shared hosting providers.
- User friendly – this really is a very easy to use system with tooltips and help options.
- Largest .NET CMS user base (700,000+) and a dedicated group of developers developing modules, fixing bugs etc. With a community that develops plugins, shares knowledge and is willing to help, DotNetNuke has an unrivaled user base.
- Multiple website support – you can have one installation of DotNetNuke and have multiple portals with separate user lists, content and skins.

Extensible and skinnable.


Umbraco is becoming increasingly popular and has a community that is growing day by day. It’s written in C# and is currently being rewritten for .NET MVC2. Some key points around Umbraco are:

- Written in C# which is a powerful and flexible programming language.
- Total freedom and flexibility – Umbraco gives the developer the chance to customize and tweak everything about the installation.
- Interface and design – Umbraco effectively gives you a blank page in which to create your website. As such, you can make the website look however you want.
- Seperation of code and presentation.
- Growing user base – umbraco is rapidly gaining a dedicated user base.

So which one?

Ultimately, there’s no silver bullet for a CMS. You have to take everything in to consideration. What are the business needs? Who is going to use the system? Do you have technical ability to develop things on your own? Where are you hosting this?

Umbraco provides a very flexible and powerful framework, but requires some considerable technical ability to successfully implement. It also has very high hosting requirements which rules out a lot of shared hosting providers.

DotNetNuke provides a fairly solid framework and requires no technical ability once it’s installed. It has a simple module and skin installation system. It is also easier to install on shared hosting. You lose a bit of flexibility, but gain more ease of use for the end user.

There are many more platforms out there and either way you go, you’ll still have a fully functional CMS and a great looking website!

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