Discussion on Urdu Content Management

There is an ongoing discussion about the choice of a back-end system for the proposed Urdu portal. I have been asserting the need of a content-management system (CMS) for the creation, integration and management of Urdu content. I have practically no prior practical experience of using a CMS. I have just done some web browsing to gather some information. Following is the minimum set of features that a CMS should support in order to be useful for the Urdu portal:

# Support of layout templates
# Interactive support for adding/removing sections
# Online WYSIWYG editor for editing content
# Customisable for displaying Urdu content
# User registration
# Integration of content such as Urdu Wiki, Urdu forum, member blogs etc.

The content-management systems Drupal, Mambo and Typo3 all have excellent support for these features. Further these CMSes also contain built in applications such as chat, eCommerce etc. One big problem with the above mentioned CMSes is the learning curve associated. Installing these CMSes is not very difficult. I installed Drupal and Typo3 without much problem but I did not go much beyond their default generated web sites.

I did not think about evaluating WordPress earlier because I always thought of it as a blogging platform, which probably is not completely true. People have actually been using WordPress in their content-management solutions. The overwhelming argument in favour of WordPress is the available know-how. There are already a number bloggers i.e Asif, Danial, Ejaz, KO etc. who have been using WordPress and are familiar with its intricacies. A lot depends on these fellows to give Urdu portal a head start with their knowledge of web technologies. The main page of a WP-based web site consists of posts, which is not exactly what we want in a portal. Again I would expect on my WP-expert friends to come up with a decent customisation of WP. Following articles advocate the use of WP as a CMS:

* Centripetal forces
* WordPress 1.5 as a Web Site CMS

I would also leave the issue of a more powerful CMS for the future. The content-management needs of the Urdu portal are surely going to get more demanding with time. A migration to some other CMS may be necessary by then. On the other hand WP is also under continuous development. It can also be hoped that it stays capable of managing the content of the Urdu portal.

Comparing the features of two or CMSes is not an easy task. There are dozens of factors/parameters that have to be considered in such a comparison. CMS Matrix is a web site that makes this comparison a lot easier. You just have to select the CMSes to be compared from the given list and it provides a side-by-side comparison of their features. I selected WordPress, Typo3, Mambo and Drupal for such a comparison. It could clearly be seen from the comparison that WP lags behind the other full-fledged systems in terms of content-management capabilities.

Another web site opensourceCMS provides information about the open source content-management systems. It also provides a CMS-rating which based upon the user’s votes.

Layout

A horizontal and a vertical menu bar should support the web site navigation. The content should be presented in the form of sections distributed in a two column layout. Following web sites/portals present such a layout:

* ہم سب دوست
* پہچان
* Small and medium enterprise development authority

I have deliberately chosen only the sites that use Unicode Urdu. Impelementing the proposed layout in WP would probably require a fair deal of CSS/HTML/PHP wizardry and I hope that our experienced friends will help us.

Font

I think we should, at this point, also debate the issue of which Urdu to use in the Urdu portal. Most of the Unicode Urdu-based web sites are using either Urdu Naskh Asiatype or Nafees Web Naskh font. I would vote for Urdu Naskh Asiatype. This font also works on Windows 98. Some people may think of tahoma. Personally, I do not like tahoma but that is only my opinion.

Content (or wish list)

The content of the Urdu portal will keep evolving just like its layout. I can think of the following content presented by the Urdu portal to begin with:

* Urdu Wiki containing technical resources about installing Urdu support and Urdu blogging etc.
* Urdu forum. This is going to be completely based on Unicode Urdu. I will gladly help Qadeer in setting up this forum
* Blog feed aggregator (Urdu planet). This should be left to Zack.
* News feed aggregator (for news from BBCUrdu.com etc.).
* Links to newspapers columns and editorials with their summaries
* Literary section
** Book reviews
** Interviews
** Classics
** Poetry
* Urdu chat

You are encouraged to supplement the above list. I have added a section to Urdu Wiki for the purpose of collecting ideas about the types of Urdu content to be incorporated.

And finally there are some very useful suggestions about creating an Urdu web site by Mr Amjad Sheikh.

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