Shaun Stanislaus’s Tech blog

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20 Best Free CMS & Resources

Hese days there are a ton 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 20+ best free cms toolbox 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!

1. Joomla


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 Resources:

Joomla Toolbox:

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.

2. Drupal

drupal 20+ Best Free CMS & Resources

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 Resources:

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 – 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.

3. WordPress


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 Resources:

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.

4. CushyCMS


CushyCMS is a Content Management Systems (CMS) that is truly simple. It’s free for unlimited users, unlimited changes, unlimited pages and unlimited sites.

CushyCMS Resources:

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.

5. SilverStripe


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.

SilverStripe Resources:

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.

6. Plone


Plone is an open source CMS built with Python. Plone claims to have the best security track record of any major CMS.

Plone Resources:

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.

7. MODx


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  Resources:

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.

8.  dotCMS


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  Resources:

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

9. Frog CMS

Frog CMS

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.

10. Radiant CMS

Radiant CMS

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.

11. concrete5  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 Resources:

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.

12. TYPOlight  CMS


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 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 …

13. Expression Engine CMS

Expression Engine

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…

ExpressionEngine Resources:

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 …

14. Pligg CMS


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 Resources

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: 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.

15. GoodBarry CMS

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 Resources:

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.

16. LightCMS



LightCMS is a bit different than many of the other options on this list in that it targets designers by providing a source of ongoing income. Clients pay to use LightCMS on their site, which includes hosting (sites must be hosted on their servers), and designers can provided their clients with a branded content management system and earn recurring commissions from the hosting.

LightCMS Resources:

ReSeller Information – Designers can become resellers to build client sites on LightCMS and earn a residual income.

Video Demos – Here you can learn more about how the system works and how you can build sites with LightCMS.

How to Use Any Template with LightCMS
– A tutorial from Element Fusion, the company behind LightCMS.

LightCMS Review – Collis Ta’eed wrote a review of LightCMS on Freelance Switch.

17. Textpattern CMS


Textpattern is another free and open source option. Like the other leading open source options, Textpattern has a strong community that makes it easier to find information and resources about using it as a CMS.

Textpattern Resouces:

Textpattern Developer’s Toolbox – My collection at Smashing Magazine for those who want to develop with Textpattern.

Textpattern Support Formus – The official forums from Textpattern.

TextBook – TextBook is the documentation provided for those who work with and develop for Textpattern.

Your First Textpattern Theme – A tutorial for those who are new to building sites with Textpattern.

WeLoveTextpattern – A gallery of sites built on Textpattern.

18. Typo3 CMS


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 Resources:
– 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 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, …

19. Movable Type CMS

Movable Type

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 – includes a showcase of sites for your inspiration.

20. AxCMS


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

21. Contenido CMS


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.


August 5, 2009 - Posted by | Joomla | , , ,


  1. A good list here, I’m going to bookmark it for later.
    Currently I use Joomla & WP for websites. I’ve tried Drupal but I just couldn’t get used to it.
    I’ll give the others a try out in the next few weeks.
    Thanks again for the list.

    Comment by GY IT | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great Article sir

    Comment by Yasir Imran | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  3. I was working with some other popular CMS on this list for quite some time but, when I first tried modxcms I was shocked how far I came and how quick and easy everything became.

    I love the fully Ajax MooTools powered backend and the jQuery frontend manager that lets you edit content on the site itself.

    Comment by Tofu | August 6, 2009 | Reply

  4. This was a great collection and information. You are serving all CMS developers. Great job.

    Comment by Joomla Content Management System | August 12, 2009 | Reply

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