I’ve got this problem. My creative juices have dried up worse than the mohave. Sure, I can move things around, write some text, etc. But I’ve had a hard time getting into building a new site. I’ve got some that need to be done, so this is a problem.

So, I’ve been busy researching some backend programming. I’m sure my fingers will be happy soon and my design mind will just purr with excitement. By that time, I’ll have some new structures just waiting for fancy-shmancy skins.

I want to understand how to build a standards-based CMS sytem. I started looking for the perfect package. I’m not a php/asp/perl/jsp programmer so I needed something that had already been put together. I wanted it to be free and I wanted the information to sit on my server, not a hosted solution. I also wanted something that could work for a museum and also work for a small business that needed little more than a brochure-site.

So, what did I find?

Mambo is a great CMS system. It has a great administrative backend and powerful features. Mambo can be modified to create css-based layouts, but the menus and subsections are still table based. So, I continued my search.

MOSXML could be a perfect solution. This project takes the Mambo backend and uses it to output pure XML. XSL and XSLT files are used to create the desired web pages. This project is still in beta and I couldn’t get it to work on my server. I need to do some more tweaking before I give up on this project. It could be a bit too bleeding edge to build a museum web site, but would be good for a test site.

PHPWebSite is another good CMS. While it is much closer to the ideal, it still isn’t perfect. Their goal is to be XHTML 1.0 strict valid by the final launch. Currently, it is still using tables for much of the subsections but the layout can be css-based. The admin is pretty good and the features are great. I found myself dreaming about all of the cool projects that could be built with this. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to hack up the program to get rid of all the tables.

Basecamp is a nice project management product. I haven’t played with it yet. I just set up a Basecamp site to handle an upcoming project. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

So, where am I now? The latest project that I am testing is WordPress. A recent story on converting it to a CMS system seems promissing. The conversion is pretty simple and I do like the flexibility. WordPress is also standards-based and easy to modify.

Now, I need to find a good photo gallery manager to work with WordPress. I’ve looked at Flickr, but I know this is not a solution for a museum. Image rights management would make Flickr a nightmare. So, I’m looking for something that makes it easy to upload mulitiple images, add the appropriate tombstone information, and present the images with flexible galleries.

Ah, the glory of the research. It’s a good thing my creative mind has dried up, I can just concentrate on the coding features.