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What is open CMS?

Open CMS refers to open source content management systems (CMSs), such as Drupal, Wordpress or Joomla. The code is open (no license fees) and each CMS has its own community that contributes code and modules back into the system for further reuse.

About open CMSs

Open CMSs are part of the broader open source movement, a movement that lends itself to sharing, and to building a community.  Salsa Digital, as part of our commitment to all things open (open government, open data, open platform and open design), embraces the significant potential and benefits of open source. Open source CMSs have been playing a large role in delivering benefits to many organisations since the inception of ‘open source’ back in the late 1990s.

Why open CMS?

Open source software technologies, such as open source CMSs, create an even playing field across the globe for software development and innovation. Whereas proprietary/licensed software development and innovation is most often located outside Australia (e.g. Silicon Valley or low-cost offshore regions) open source technology can be enhanced and developed by members of the particular open source community, anywhere in the world.

Open CMSs deliver many benefits including:

  • Reduced costs for web development (no license fees, plus reduced costs through the use of existing components contributed by the community)

  • Global and active communities, global and active adoption

  • Collaboration and knowledge sharing with diverse people from different locations around the world coming together to solve problems, create new features, etc.

  • Minimised vendor lock-in (and the unfortunately too common ‘$ proprietary liability’)

  • Reduced risks (code has already been tested and used)

Some of the specific benefits of the open source CMS Drupal are:

  • Enterprise-grade website CMS with sophisticated content publication workflow capabilities

  • Highly maintained and secure by an active and global community

  • Open source with no license fees

  • 1M+ global community contributors

  • Strong worldwide adoption across government and enterprise

  • Winner of several global open source CMS awards

Drupal and Wordpress are the two most commonly used CMSs at Salsa, because of their many features and benefits. Our developers like them because they provide an open, modular and extensible framework to make building sophisticated sites easy. Our clients like them because they enable them to manage rich content among publications teams in sophisticated they’re very affordable compared to proprietary systems.

Looking at government applications, GovCMS (a Drupal-based whole-of-government digital platform designed by government for government) enables government to deliver great digital content and great digital services in a way that’s easy and intuitive to access and digest. This has flow-on effects for citizens, such as:

  • Reduced web development costs for taxpayers

  • Improved usability (through the community of components)

  • Better site accessibility (templates are W3C compliant)

  • Responsive sites (templates allow for viewing on desktops, tablets and smartphones)

Open CMS and open government

Open CMSs are one of Salsa’s four pillars for the delivery of open government in Australia. The many benefits open source delivers makes open CMSs compelling propositions for government.

Who’s using open CMSs?

Open source CMSs are used by a host of governments and organisations around the world, including:

In addition, there are nearly 200 government websites in Australia currently using the Drupal distribution that’s been customised for Australian government, GovCMS. These agencies include:

  • Department of Communications and the Arts
  • Department of Finance
  • Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)
  • Australian Passport Office
  • Royal Australian Air Force
  • Victoria’s Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • SA Department of Education
  • Brisbane City Council

View an up-to-date list of the current GovCMS clients.

Salsa’s open CMS services

Salsa’s 15-year legacy is in open source CMS technologies, delivering enterprise-grade solutions built on Drupal, Wordpress and Joomla. Our services encompass:  

  • Site assessment and readiness — We'll assess your site’s viability for Drupal, GovCMS, Wordpress or Joomla and recommend the best fit. Salsa will also look at business requirements and solution direction, functional mapping and high-level project costings.

  • Technical and visual design — Design, lead, coach, guide and direct visual and technical design as necessary for your Drupal, GovCMS, Wordpress or Joomla site. Salsa is also involved in the open design movement for government.

  • Build and migration — Site build and configuration to meet key functional requirements, content migration, and theming/module development  (if applicable).

  • Integration — Integrate your site with open data (e.g. CKAN integration), EDM platforms (e.g. Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp), CRM systems such as Salesforce and Oracle, payment gateways (e.g. PayPal and Stripe), single sign-on systems like LDAP and Active Directory, and social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

  • Quality assurance and testing — Site audits, user testing and performance testing.

  • Application support — Ad-hoc enhancements and bug fixes, site management, release management and technical governance. More information on Salsa’s website application support and enhancement services.

  • Security patching and updates — Keeping your site patched and running the most up-to-date version of your CMS to protect against threats and downtime. More information on Salsa’s security patching and updates services.

  • Documentation — Functional documentation, technical documentation and user manuals.

  • Agile — Option for full agile delivery led by Salsa including services such as discovery, user stories, sprint planning, code/config reviews, UAT, daily standups and overall project governance and stakeholder comms OR augmented agile delivery with Salsa providing key expert resources and/or SCRUM teams to augment client-led agile project delivery.

  • Training — Drupal training courses and customised courses to meet your agency’s needs. More information on Salsa’s training services.

Case Studies

Consolidating 25+ legacy sites onto open source CMS as a service

Salsa Digital brought together 25+ legacy sites (running across three different content management systems — Joomla, Drupal and WordPress — with different and out-of-date versions) into one common architecture platform. Now all sites are running on an up-to-date CMS with the latest patch versions applied, providing a clean foundation to maintain patches moving forward.


New visual design and site for Stay Smart Online

Salsa Digital was engaged to update the Stay Smart Online website’s look and feel and rebuild the site as an independent govCMS site.


Drupal 8 technical expertise for the University of Southern Queensland

Salsa Digital was brought in to help the USQ team deliver its student portal, UConnect, on Drupal 8.


Major upgrade for

Salsa Digital was commissioned to bring across onto the govCMS platform, delivering a more stable and user-friendly website.


GovCMS Drupal 8 and UIkit Alpha

Salsa Digital and Acquia worked together to test Drupal 8 and version 2 of the UIkit for govCMS and the Department of Finance.



Dries Buytaert on decoupled Drupal

There’s a lot of buzz around decoupled content management systems (CMSs) at the moment, so we were excited to listen to Drupal founder and Acquia CTO Dries Buytaert’s webinar on decoupled Drupal.


User research and govCMS viability

Salsa Digital recently partnered with Folk to run user research and take a look at how govCMS would work for the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA).


Open source: contributing to a stronger, kinder, more resilient NZ

In November last year at Drupal South, Aimee Whitcroft discussed how open data, open government and open source can lead to civic technology solutions that benefit us all.


Get in touch

We’ve been helping government agencies and private organisations around Australia reap the benefits of the open source movement. Use the form below or call us on 1300 727 952 to chat about your needs.

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