Bricolage: A Good Open-Source Option

Wide-ranging system outdoes some commercial content managers.

When it comes to open source and content management, the focus tends to be on popular publishing systems for creating community portals. But when it comes to serious content management for large, complex Web sites, open source doesnt do as well, with most products still incomplete and less-than-stellar lists of users.

However, an open-source content management system called Bricolage bucks this trend, providing an open option that isnt just capable but is one of the best content management systems eWeek Labs has seen, even eclipsing some of the best-known commercial products.

One reason Bricolage is so much more capable and complete than most other open-source content management systems weve seen is that it was built to run, one of the more complex and dynamic- content-driven sites on the Web. This means Bricolage comes fully formed as an application rather than as a project in flux.

Bricolage runs on the mod_perl module for the Apache Web server, which provides much greater performance and stability than standard Perl applications based on Common Gateway Interface. Bricolage also requires the PostgreSQL database. We tested Bricolage running on a Linux system.

Administration and content authoring chores for Bricolage are done through a standard Web browser, and, unlike most content management systems, we could use any browser. From this interface, we could easily create and customize nearly any element in our test site, performing in minutes customizations that in many other products would take much longer, with extensive custom coding required.

Bricolage has extensive support for custom user roles and groups, which made it possible in tests to create user types that fit specific needs in an organization. The product made it simple for us to create complex, capable workflow systems.

Bricolages My Workspace interface for viewing tasks and adding content is straightforward and simple to use. The product also includes a customizable alert capability to send e-mail or other alerts to users when issues or submissions occur in the system.

The template system and most of the code in Bricolage are based on HTML::Mason, an open-source development system that works via Perl code embedded in HTML. This embedded system makes it simple to convert HTML pages to templates for controlling the look and feel of a Web site.

Another welcome feature is the ability to package a Bricolage site implementation into a single, compressed file and then deploy it to other systems or installations.

More information is available at

East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at [email protected]