Contao Open Source CMS

This article is machine translated.

“Contao Open Source CMS” is the official, full name of the project and it says everything you need to know when you first contact the system. It is a CMS, i.e. a content management system under an open source license called Contao. Are we clear? Then you can skip the next two sections. Otherwise …

content management system

A content management system is by definition a program for the management of content. Within this very general category there are countless subgroups, such as

  • Document Management Systems for the administration of documents,
  • Customer Relation Management Systems for the administration of customers or
  • Web Content Management Systems for the administration of websites.

Contao belongs to the group of Web Content Management Systems because it is designed to manage online content, unlike traditional content management systems that also serve radio and print media.

One of the characteristics of a content management system is that several users can work on a project in a collaborative manner. Changes can be tracked at any time in the version management and can be undone if necessary. In advance, the administrator can define in the rights management which areas and contents the users are allowed to access.

Furthermore, a CMS can support workflows. In Contao, you can allow an editor to create content but leave the publishing of the content to the editor-in-chief. This simple workflow guarantees that no article appears on the website that the editor-in-chief has not checked before.

And even if you maintain your website all by yourself and don’t need any rights management or workflows, it still makes sense to use a CMS. Because it makes your life much easier by abstracting tasks like creating and checking a form or embedding a Google Map - which means “you don’t have to know how it’s done technically”. To use Contao, you do not even need to know HTML, although it is the markup language used to create web pages.

And because Contao is installed on a web server, you have access to your data around the clock and from anywhere in the world. So you can theoretically work on your website from a beach in Ibiza - although this often leads to problems during your family vacation, which are not technical.

Open Source

Open source software is characterized above all by the fact that the comprehensive “free” use of the program is permitted and there is no restriction of licensees or areas of use. The openly accessible source code and freedom from license fees are essential prerequisites for free usability.

For you as a user, this means that you can use the program as you like - even for commercial projects. It is a common misconception that Open Source software may only be used for non-commercial projects. Such a “restriction of licensees” is just not allowed!

Of all Open Source licenses, the General Public License, or GPL for short, is probably the best known and most frequently used. It guarantees the licensee the right to use a program

  • to use,
  • to be changed at will,
  • to reproduce,
  • to distribute and
  • to be made publicly available.

In addition to these rights, the GPL also creates obligations for the licensee. For example, you may not remove any existing copyright notices or pass on the program under another license.

Further details and answers to common questions about Open Source licenses in German (the license itself is in English) can be found on the website of ifrOSS, the Institute for Legal Issues of Free and Open Source Software.

Contao was initially also licensed under the GPL, but is now licensed under the Lesser General Public License, shortLGPL, which is legally an extension of the GPL. The main difference for us is that third party developers who do not write their own extensions for Contao do not necessarily have to put them under an Open Source license as it would be the case with the GPL.