Here is a little background. I've looked mostly at open source platforms. (The others seem to have too much marketing mumbo jumbo to quickly figure out what their capabilities are.) My main requirements are that the content management system:
- have content editable from standard web browsers,
- respect browser text size preferences, especially in Internet Explorer (e.g., don't make the font size fixed at 12 pixels),
- use the full extent of the screen, even on large monitors (e.g., don't make the display a fixed 750 pixels wide),
- be stable,
- be simple to edit and run content with,
- have good security,
- have an active user community,
- have a facility for adding reasonably good discussion boards to my site,
- be reasonably fast and scalable, and
- be not too difficult to install.
It'd also be nice to have something like the ability for users to add their own
comments to each page, like what happens at php.net in the user manual.
Here is some feedback.
OpenACS seems to have an active developer community. That is nice.
I do not like that OpenACS uses AOLServer and PostGRE -- I'd feel more comfortable if Apache+MySQL were an option or the only option. That would give a broader range of hosting options and would instill less fear of security and compatibility problems.
I hate Tcl, based on past experience using it, and I wish that OpenACS didn't use Tcl. Also, the role of Tcl in OpenACS is not clear from the top level descriptions -- one probably has to either use OpenACS or read in some magic place in order to understand how Tcl is used in OpenACS. Maybe a link from the front page at openacs.org to a very high level architectural diagram would help with this. Maybe there already is such a link and I didn't see it.
The openacs.org site organization is a bit confusing. I still don't see where I can try out OpenACS as an admin/content author without setting up my own site. This was the first thing I looked for, after the forums.
The openacs.org front page is too busy for my taste. Also, I get the impression that the front page has a lot of redundancy. For example there's a section, "How do I work with OpenACS", and there is another section, "About OpenACS". The two sections are very similar and therefore confuse people (or at least me) who are looking for things in those sections. Maybe these two sections could be combined. In general I think the front page should be about half its current size, or less.
It might be nice to have an explicit statement at the bottom of the front page of the web site, saying that the site is in fact built using OpenACS -- I wouldn't assume that people realize this.
Some of the other pages, including the forums, are much less busy, and I like that. The site's color scheme is not too garish and I like that too.
This site openacs.org is really slow. When I post something in the forums, sometimes I have to wait up to a minute in order for the post to be stored. When I search for something, it takes forever for the search results to show up. Simple navigation around within the site also seems sluggish, although not as slow as posting in the forums. Are all OpenACS sites so slow? I am fearful that if I use OpenACS, my site will be as slow as openacs.org.
I like that the developers are concerned about security and even have a large section about it in the manual. I have seen nothing like this in other systems.
My first, probably uninformed impression is that the cookie security is unnecessarily complicated. This makes it hard for me to determine whether the scheme is good and makes me distrust the security. (Those are my reactions, justified or not.)
When I searched from the forums, I expected the search to be done only over the forums, not over the whole site.
I think that many new users are gonna be confused about the relationship between OpenACS and dotLRN -- it'd be nice to have a few words clarifying this when dotLRN is introduced on the front openacs.org page. Also, I could have sworn that somewhere I saw something that said that "dotLRN" was preferred, but I see ".LRN" all over the place at openacs.org. (.LRN/dotLRN seems to me to be a terrible name.)
The links to the IIRC chat and log are cool.
You might change "Contribution Instructions" on the front page to "How to Contribute" or something that sounds a bit less demanding.
I hate that when someone registers at openacs.org, their email address is visible to the world and there is no way to change this. I don't think it's anyone's business what my email address is. If someone registers at openacs.org, they have to worry about spam, and also about loss of anonymity. Users could be allowed to contact each other without knowing each other's email address, by letting users send email from the openacs.org site without knowing the destination address of the email. Users could exchange email addresses later if they wanted.
It'd be nice if the forums had a WYSIWYG editor. I also miss an explicit "preview" option when posting.