Jun 17, 2008

Why would you choose TYPO3 for you next web site?

"Why should I use TYPO3 and not some other CMS?" or "My boss wants to know why we should use TYPO3?" These questions appear in TYPO3 _mailing lists_ from time to time. It is no doubt that TYPO3 is a very powerful CMS. I would even say that it is the most powerful CMS in the world right now. But power alone is not a very big reason to use TYPO3. Even if TYPO3 is the most powerful, does it serve well? It serves many web sites on the Internet. But will it be able to serve ~your~ web site? Will it be able to server your web site ~better~ then other CMS? This is the first question you want to be answered. You would like to know if TYPO3 is the right choice specially for you and why it is the right choice specially for you.

What kind of web sites can be served with TYPO3?

There are lots of web site types: home pages, blogs, newspapers, blogs, e-commerce, educational, etc. Many CMSes are oriented to specific web site types. For example, _Magento_ is great for e-commerce web sites. _WordPress_ is perfect for blogs. Home pages often do not require CMS at all.

What kind of web sites can be served with TYPO3? Virtually any.

Unlike many other CMSes, TYPO3 was built with one important idea: it is very modular. It has a base system (TYPO3 core), which is ready to serve pages immediately. It supports page hierarchies out of the box. TYPO3 supports images on pages, multimedia elements, forms, user login and many more out of the box.

There are over 2000 extensions to TYPO3. They add image galleries, shops, news, address databases, discussion boards, connectivity with systems like LDAP, mailing lists, e-commerce, etc. By installing these extensions, you add corresponding functionality to TYPO3 while keeping the power of the TYPO3 core and functionality added by any other extension. Therefore you can have a blog, a shop, support section, file repository and many more all at once. This is true universal solution. And it is all manageable in a consistent way using TYPO3 Backend,

TYPO3 asvantages

In a paragraph above we already covered the first and most powerful advantage of TYPO3: it is universal system. Once you need something new, you just install an extension and you get the functionality. Isn't it great? You don't have to install Magento on top or WordPress to add T-shirt shopping to your blog. You do not have to login to blog and shop separately (like in case of WordPress and Magento). With TYPO3 you login once and you have access to everything you need. You can even refer from your blog to your products. If you rearrange pages, TYPO3 will automatically ensure that links still work. Magic? No, TYPO3!

Another advantage is a very flexible user system. Many systems allow one administrator user. So you have to login as administrator, John logins as administrator and Jane logins the same way. And no one knows who actually removed that "very important page" the boss made yesterday evening. And no way to find out. Not with TYPO3 though. With TYPO3 you have access control over everything. You can have as many administrator users as you wish. You can have non-administrator users, who are granted specific permissions to perform only their specific tasks.

Users can also be assigned to groups ("Editors" or "Reviewers") to assign user rights to the whole group. Every user can be assigned to many groups. This gives TYPO3 incredible flexibility.

In TYPO3 you have real pages. Not flat list of pages where you have to invent titles like "Products", "Products :: Electronics", "Products :: Electronics :: GPS" and later search a long flat list. With TYPO3 you have a real page tree where you can group pages as necessary, reuse parts of the page tree from other parts through shortcuts or mount points.

TYPO3 comes with lots of types of content that you can create. These types are optimized for the best presentation of the content. For example, you can create a text, or text with image. Image can open in a separate window when it is clicked making a very easy enlarge-on-click feature. And editors do not have to bother about it much: they just turn on a check box that enables this feature. It is that simple! Tables, forms, multimedia - all is available with lots of tuning possibilities. It is an incredible degree of control over web site look.

I could continue this list longer and longer. But let's talk about disadvantages of TYPO3. Let's be fare: every system has disadvantages. So, are they big and how can you deal with them?

TYPO3 disadvantages

Firsts, TYPO3 is large. It needs a good hosting. If you run a company, you can afford it, so it is a minor disadvantage. TYPO3 can run on a shared hosting too, though it is not the best hosting case for it. You would not fly a Boeing from your garden, would you? So need for a good hosting is a price to pay for a good system.

Another often heard disadvantage is that TYPO3 is hard to learn. This is both true and false. TYPO3 can be used by three types of people: editors, administrators and programmers. Learning becomes harder with each next group. It is easy for editors to learn TYPO3. Not as easy as WordPress (because WordPress is a very simple blogging-only tool) but still easy. Compare it to car driving. If you are a driver, you only need to learn to drive this car: use its controls, etc. Nothing difficult.

If you are administrator, you need to manage TYPO3, write TypoScript, install modules, etc. This requires learning. It takes from several weeks to 2-3 months depending on your learning ways and courage. But result is always rewarding because now you can not only drive the car but you can also tune it the way you need (for example, change tires to much better ones).

If you are a programmer, it is the longest learning curve. It is true that there are no many truly good TYPO3 programmers out there. Knowing how to program in PHP does not mean that you can write a good TYPO3 module. But if you compare it to other systems, it is not different! Every system will require learning, so this is not truly a disadvantage.

So, yes, it will take time to use TYPO3. But hey, your are gong to fly a Boeing, not a paper airplane! It is worth the result!

Sometimes people say that being open source is disadvantage. Open source is often driven by a group of enthusiasts and there is no support. Fortunately, there are lots of very professional companies, who can provide TYPO3 support for you. So, if you can't do something "in house", you always can get help and learn how to make it.

Conclusion

So, here you saw advantages and disadvantages of using TYPO3 for your web site. Advantages are obvious and huge. Disadvantages are minor and temporary (until you learn). The choice is obvious: TYPO3 is a right thing for you. It is a fact. Nothing more to say.

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