Squirrel Notes Issue #43

This issue was published on Monday, March 2, 2020.

Intro to CMS Syllabus: I teach the “Introduction to Content Management” course at FH Joanneum in Graz, Austria. (This summer I'll teach a second, expanded course: "Advanced Topics in Content Management.")

After fiddling with the course for years – I just finished my sixth cohort – I finally got around to formalizing and documenting the syllabus. There are two books, eight lectures, two assignments, and a bunch of additional reading.

It's CC-licensed. If you'd like to do anything with it, I'd love to hear from you.


Preston So on Distributed CMS: I linked to a Preston So article last issue, and here's another great one:

The distributed CMS: How the decoupled CMS endgame will impact your organization

This is from last June, when Preston was still at Gatsby. He spends a lot of time on the history and evolution of CMS, how we got to where we are today, and where we're going, which is an exciting, disruptive vision.

Soon, the CMS as a coherent, monolithic whole will cease to exist [...] and we will need new terms and new ways to describe the content mesh and the distributed CMS architectures that will enable a channel-rich and technically robust future for content. The future of the CMS is here, and it is distributed.

That last line echoes a talk I did last year: The Future Might be Distributed


The Actual CMS at Vogue: Last issue, I mentioned some comments the new editor of Vogue made about CMS. I reverse-engineered(-ish) that they were running on WordPress.

Well, we have a reader from Conde Nast who responded.

Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where things are not as simple as they first appear. Over the course of the last few years, Condé Nast has been going through a process of consolidating some of the technology and teams that run our brands websites around the globe.

[...] as you browse around vogue.com, you might be seeing a page served from the original WordPress site or it could be from “Verso”. Verso is a React based, multi-tenant application that's sitting on top of the in-house headless content API. These both sit behind a CDN layer. The CDN caches responses but also makes decisions about which application serves the page. As more capabilities are added to Verso, the CDN is updated to send the respective requests to Verso.

I stand corrected.


Surgical Video CMS: An assignment in my Intro to CMS course is for students to research a matrix of five CMSs. One CMS has to be “vertically targeted,” meaning it was designed for a specific use case.

Weird systems are fun – there are lots of CMSs built for libraries and museums, it turns out. But this time, a student found something really special:

Content Management System | Medical Documentation Solutions | Sony Pro

This is a hardware device by Sony which is marketed as a “Content Management System.” It stores and indexes surgical video used by surgeons preparing for procedures.

I love stuff like this. Do you know other specialized CMSs? If so, please send them. I'd love to include some in future issues.

(Also, congratulations to Contao, who must have SEO for CMS locked up in Germany and Austria because it appears in almost every submitted assignment.)


New Book on the CMS Selection Process: I wrote another book. I tweeted the cover image last week.

It's is called “Things You Should Know: 25 Lessons I've Learned About Selecting Content Services and Technology.” It details 25 patterns I see over and over when people buy CMSs or services.

It will publish in late March.

(Also, I finally got around to creating this page: Books by Deane Barker.)