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August 29, 2006

Patrick's TYPO3 Story - Part UN

Category: Patrick Gaumond, TYPO3

By: Patrick

Here's the challenge: Choose a CMS that does everything, cost under 10 000$ and... you have 2 weeks to delight us with the thing you will choose. Oh and we're in Spring 2003 the whole site is due for September. All 400 pages of it!

March 2003... The month my web life changed...

It was a long time ago... In a city far away from Denmark.

I was working at the business school of Université Laval as the webmaster there. At that time the site was mainly done using the #file include directive from Server Side Include.

The site was built as the needs arise without any real direction and standardization dating back from 1994. At that time it was running on a Sun SparcStation…

So I’m having a meeting with a brand new Édimestre (Edimaster/Infomaster) about the future of our website. At that that time it consist of 400 static HTML pages and the Edimaster was planning to revise every single page and add those necessary. We also had to re-do the whole site architecture and standardize on a common look.

Following this discussion I began to look for a tool to help me do the job. Let me tell you that during spring 2003 there was no and review and feature comparison where very limited.I checked,, OSCOM, and few PDF and so called white paper on the CMS subject.

Another meeting was called, this time with higher ranking personnal and in brief, they set the goals: We want a brand new site for mid-August (courses begins in September in Québec). Use whatever ou want but you can’t be wrong. If the tool you use doesn’t satisfy after few months of testing then go back to « the old way ». « And ou have 2 weeks to find that tool and show us if it’s interesting…. ».

So I had carte blanche (blank check) but also all the pressure that goes with such a responsability!I went back to my researches.

Here’s a brief description of the limits I had:

  • I work in a 100% Microsoft environment.
  • We use and know IIS and ASP/VBscript.
  • We will be 2 person to work on the project from an IT perspective.
  • There will be no new server until at least 1 year. It should work on a Pentium Pro 200mhz with 512mb of ram.
  • I got 2 weeks to find, test and prepare a demo.

Tool requirements:

  • No HTML knowledge needed.
  • Content must be independant from design
  • We need to mange user rights.
  • Must cost less than 10 000 $ CAN.

From those requirement I added:

  • Not Java based (I had bad experience with JSP in the past)
  • PHP is possible since the move from ASP to PHP looks quite easy.
  • The product must be extensible since the requirements are guaranteed to change over time ( a classic !).
  • There must be documentation and support available for me.

At the end of the first week I had a few CMS on my list :Plone/Zope, Midgard, RainbowCMS (the only ASP CMS at that time that was free) and few others, including TYPO3 of course.

The Getting Started manual was fresh off the press at that time and it was an eye opener. From the reading I had a good feeling of the capacity of the product and how to do some standard stuff. It was also clear by looking at the TER that extensibility was there.

I also learn that someone with a tight deadline doing his first TYPO3 project should try to find another product! 

I had another week to set-it up and prepare a demo but at least it was nothing final or official, just some kind of proof-of-concept.

See you in part Deux!



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