An online CMS differs from an offline system in that templates are employed whenever the user inserts content into a web page for publication. These templates area said to be ‘on demand’ in that they are applied as per the user’s requirements.

HTML is generated whenever a page is retrieved from the cache or is accessed by a user. In order for this to happen the user has to log onto their CMS via their web browser which then provides this access.

Content is stored in a database which is a mandatory requirement, especially if the user wishes to view, amend or upgrade that content.

Template processing takes place as and when requested compared to offline systems which pre-process all of their content and apply their templates beforehand.

Examples of online processing systems include Joomla, Drupal, Plone and Mambo.

Advantages of an online processing system

One advantage of an online processing CMS is its extensibility which means greater functionality in the form of add-ons such as image galleries, forum, wikis and blogs. This scalability is an important feature of these types of CMS.

Other advantages include:

  • The user views content in real-time (published)
  • The user is only shown relevant content, e.g. content which is out of date is withdrawn once it has reached it’s ‘sell by date’.
  • The content can be accessed by multiple authors/editors in a variety of locations.
  • Content can be maintained from any location which has internet access.

The downsides to this type of system include a slowing down of performance due to the fact that every time a user views a page, that page is retrieved from the database which slows down the processing speed exponentially.

This is an issue for any website owner who is looking to increase the traffic to his/her site.

This system requires a fast connection and an up to date browser especially in regard to content creation. Both of these are improving all the time but performance speeds are quicker on a local computer as used for an offline system.

Finally, content can only be created, amended, retrieved or removed via access to the internet. There must be an ongoing connection for site maintenance to take place.