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Thread: Ruby versus PHP. And which CMS?

  1. #1
    mikechip2 Guest

    Ruby versus PHP. And which CMS?

    Our church is in the planning stages of creating a website. With the ever-continually expanding role and function of websites today, our church sees the potential of having a website and its many benefits to fulfil our communication needs. We will first survey the members of our church who are involved in communication and the distribution of information and we will be setting up a committee to determine our needs.

    Initially we have determined the three main purposes our church website:
    1. information
    2. evangelization
    3. to create community

    I am aware that it is important not to jump to conclusions too early in selecting a technology to address our needs, however I also feel it is beneficial to be aware of the technologies currently in use which are commonly available as a starting point to making decisions about the overall scope of this website development project.

    As a starting point, I would estimate we may need to manage approximately 5-10 updates on the website per day and be able to publish our bulletins, announcements, events and homilies and maintain a schedule of the many ministries our church offers accessed by the members of our church community. We may eventually need to have the ability to operate fund raising initiatives and therefore the flexibility to add commerce capabilities at a later date are important.

    Other factors that are important to us include:

    a system with:
    an open source license
    good tech support (such as tech support via a public mailing list or a public forum)
    strong security

    A system that performs well in terms of:
    ease of use
    flexibility - multi-site development capability

    A system with a good selection of built-in applications we may use such as blogs, data entry, forums, wiki and online newsletter publishing capability.

    I have volunteered as a member of this website committee for our church because I was a website designer several years ago and have always had an interest in new media. A few years ago, when PHP was the popular method of choice (is this still the case today?), I attended an international convention on Drupal that lasted a few days in our city and developed an interest in Drupal for a website development project. Joomla was also (and still seems to be) one of the most popular CMSs available. During the last three years however, my work has taken me into print advertising and I have not focussed on website projects lately. I am sure that in these last three years much has changed in the world of website development and I need to be updated. For example, I picked up Linux World magazine and read about the growing popularity of Ruby and Ruby on Rails which I don't believe was very common back then (not sure however).

    We are looking for a flexible system (either pre-packaged or a website template system which we can use to develop our own website or a suggestion for a method we can use to develop a completely customized solution) that has growing room and versatility. We are not afraid to try something new if in fact it is superior. I am an advocate for open source solutions however will be open minded if there is another obvious commercial product - within very reasonable cost. Or we may hire a developer and put out this project for tender.

    This brings me to these important questions I would like to address:

    Should we hire a developer or should we employ a technically proficient individual from our church to set up and operate a do-it-yourself template-based solution as you might commonly find on the internet these days - such as setting up a WordPress site? (I don't think WordPress can handle commerce though - however I am not certain.)

    Which technologies should we be aware of?

    What has happened in the world of website development in the last three years that we should know about? i.e. what technologies have leapt ahead?

    What are some obvious choices if we were to select a CMS? Drupal, Joomla, Ruby on Rails, something python-based or any others?

    PHP or Ruby? PHP was the popular query method of choice a few years ago. Is it still now? Should we base our site on PHP (because there seems to be much online support)? I read PHP is now considered to be a little sloppy and rough on the edges and Ruby is seen as more logic-based and more intuitive. If we felt we would like to rely on a Ruby-based solution (such as Ruby on Rails) is it difficult to find Ruby developers? or should we look for a Ruby CMS that might be already pre-packaged that we could work from ourselves? Would it make sense for one of us in our church website committee to learn Ruby as a benefit (or as an additional benefit) to the development and maintenance of the site if we decide to develop on Ruby?

    If we decide to employ a developer, is it necessary to employ someone local for the benefit of face-to-face contact or is it reasonable to work with a long-distance developer (over the phone or by email and internet?). It is risky to work with an over-seas developer whom you have never met or is this a common business arrangement today?

    How do we deal with this most common dilemma: How can we determine what we need from a website when we don't know what is possible?

    Other lesser important questions: I researched other website systems used by other organizations I felt were similar to what we were looking to achieve and I phoned their developers. There was one CMS used called "Ectron". The developer, however, was charging a high fee to use it. Is this a well known CMS? Does it have a steep learning curve or could it be operated by the average user? Is it PHP-based? Its not that important for us to know but I was curious if others have heard about this one. We would like to avoid developers who charge a high monthly fee to operate our own website. Is this a reasonable or should we expect to pay a high monthly fee if we would like to high quality results?

    Last (less important) question. Has anyone used Artisteer?
    I wonder if it can be used with Ruby on Rails. If not, we could design the front end manually which we likely will.

    Thank you for any advice or guidance that may help take us to the next step.


  2. #2
    mikechip2 Guest
    I should add a few of my latest thoughts to this post:

    The open source licencing issue was my mistake in that I wasn't aware of the terminology and how it should be used. Basically what I meant was that I didn't want to be stuck with a product like Microsoft and have to pay for multiple copies of a licence just for users of our own site to be able to update our own site. I've seen this kind of arrangement before and would like to stay clear of this. There are variations of this which might be suitable but we do not have a high budget and would like to avoid such traps. I am also an advocate for open source solutions such as linux OS - although I have not tried it yet - but that is a little off-topic.

    I found this pro-Ruby link at:

    This is one perspective about Ruby which is convincing me to go with Ruby.

    Now what about Flex? Should we be considering Flex?


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