The Big Question: Is Custom CMS Data Portable?

By Kris LaGreca

The Big Question: Is Custom CMS Data Portable?New Possibilities Group

Before selecting which content management system (CMS) is right for your needs, you will have to consider its features and functionality. If you are contemplating whether you should buy a proprietary CMS or pay someone to develop a custom system for you this question will need to be answered: is custom CMS data portable? Well, here's what you will need to know.

Portability Issues

It is fine to have your CMS system customized to reflect your organization's specific needs. But, at the end of the day, you will need to export information from that custom system to other applications. So, the question remains, how can you export your customized CMS system data outside the system?

The answer is simple. You can export CMS data, even customized CMS data, by saving the data as CSV files, XML files, or through an API method which talks directly to another application.

Comma-Separated Values (or CSV) refers to tabular data that your custom system saves as plain text. The CMS then separates the data with commas; hence, the name. After the CMS saves the data as a CSV file, you can open it in a spreadsheet program, like Excel. So, what we have here is one application (your custom CMS) saving data in a readable format for both you and another computer application (Excel).

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a new language that is similar to HTML because they have the same root language in their creation. Both languages describe data. HTML is a simple and static form of markup language; you cannot make up your own DTDs (Document Type Definitions). Rather, you must work within the standard formats created in HTML language. XML, on the other hand, lets you create your own DTDs. As a result, XML provides more flexibility for a website and spreadsheet management than HTML, especially for users that have custom CMS data.

API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface. API is the way programmers talk to an application. Each application has its own specifications of format that dictate how the programmer gives the application input and how he receives the data output. In other words, without an API, users have to employ a specific language for each application. API acts as a translator between the programmer and an application. API tells the programmer what data he can ask for, how to make the request and how to receive the request. APIs also allow programmers to build tools, like software, that help businesses see results. Exporting data using an API method means a variety of applications will know how to access the information in your spreadsheet, regardless of how much or how little developers made your CMS to customer specifications.

Do I have to use a typical open-source CMS in order to move my data?

Definitely not. You can import to or export from a custom CMS using the options discussed above, API, CSV or XML. You can export from a custom CMS to a non-custom CMS like WordPress or Joomla in the event that you decide to transfer your data or change CMS platforms.

How easy is it to switch from one CMS to another?

If you choose to move away from your custom CMS to another proprietary CMS, like Squarespace, the switch is simple. Of course, you will most likely want to hire a developer to help with the transfer. XML is the language that would be needed to move an existing platform and it’s a good idea to leave this one to the professionals.

The need to move data is crucial to the success of any business. What’s even more important is making sure that your data stays secure at all times during its lifespan. A custom CMS will always have high-security measures built in and provide you with the portability necessary to run your business efficiently. ‚Äč


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