An evolving CMS: eZ Publish becomes eZ Platform and eZ Studio

The Norwegian programmers at eZ systems possess more than just an affinity towards uncomplicated software user experiences; they’ve also got a soft spot for snazzy nicknames. With eZ CMS applications, the name reflects the main goal of the system: making business content management as easy and seamless as possible. The software series appeared on the market in 2003 with the arrival of eZ Publish along with three other important foundations of the software series. At the moment, the CMS (content management system) is divided into two distinct programs: eZ Platform and eZ Studio.

eZ Publish: the CMS and its predecessors

eZ Publish was first released in two different versions by eZ Systems: a free GNU (general public license) version and a fee-based Enterprise version. The latter option is geared towards companies and also offers customer service in addition to the CMS itself.

The strength of eZ Publish lies in its ability to manage websites with heavy content loads. Its current version shows how the program has developed into a high-performance business CMS solution. In addition to companies and news media websites, the software also offers community and intranet solutions for sites with specific needs, like large-scale e-commerce platforms. The European Space Agency and The Economist both  use eZ Publish as a CMS foundation for their websites.

The CMS operates via its client’s web browser, runs as a PHP application on a web server, and saves content in an SQL database. Thanks to the help of an online editor function and a drag-and-drop feature, even beginners are able to quickly create content and edit eZ Publish templates. And by supplementing eZ Publish with SEO or e-commerce plugins, users are able to add to the system’s default features and better cater to their individual projects. Numerous extensions for all eZ CMS applications can be found on the online service, GitHub. Experienced users are also able to create their own content classes, giving them the flexibility to individually customise the data structure.

eZ Platform

2014 was the last year in which the CMS was released under the name eZ Publish. Since then, the program’s new versions have been called eZ Platform. This can be downloaded from the provider’s official website free of charge. The introduction of eZ Platform brought with it some substantial changes. These are:

  • The system uses Symfony2, one of the most popular PHP web frameworks, as its technical platform
  • The back end has been completely revised and is now organised in a clearer manner
  • Unlike eZ Publish, functions in the editor only appear if they are relevant to the tasks being carried out by editors

eZ Platform additionally offers many functions that were available as features in eZ Publish’s back end:

  • User-defined content classes and objects
  • A media database
  • Workflow management
  • A templating system
  • User roles and permission management
  • Upkeep of multiple websites
  • Version control function

Not every eZ Publish feature was transferred to eZ Platform, however. Many users may miss the extension eZ Flow, a tool that’s especially useful for multimedia and e-commerce websites. eZ Flow makes it possible to publish content in a time-controlled matter. This feature makes it easier to add special content and facilitates revenue generating mechanisms, like Ad Servers or paid content. In order to use all the advantages these extensions offer, you’ll need eZ Studio in addition to eZ Platform.

eZ Studio

eZ Studio is a software extension for the eZ Platform. In a sense, it can be seen as the counterpart to eZ Publish’s Enterprise model. Creating and managing content is even more intuitive with the fee-based program. The eZ Platform page can also be revised in the front end with the help of its online editor function. Users can try out a demo version on eZ Studio’s website in exchange for filling in some information about themselves and their company.

Important functions of eZ Studio:

  • Publishing website content can be planned through the timeline function
  • Landing pages with completely different designs can be generated with little need for prior knowledge or experience
  • Allowing content to be revised with multiple editors is easy thanks the flex workflow function

Quality comes at a price

eZ Platform and eZ Studio are both marketed in different editions under the name eZ Enterprise. The least expensive package starts at £10,409 a year. In addition to eZ Platform and eZ Studio, this option includes a webserver, a content database, and online support. The more expensive editions also feature a customer service hotline, technical assistance as well as annual installation checks. With this complete package, companies have access to a system that allows content to be added easily and professionally.

The online editor from eZ Studio is appropriate for both experts as well as inexperienced users: in comparison to the system’s core software (and also that of many other popular CMSs), it’s much more clearly arranged, easier to operate, and at the same time versatile in terms of how it can be used. Other aspects of eZ Studio, like its intuitive use and handy features, add further value to the system. The eZ Systems software truly does deliver what it promises.

On the flipside of the coin, eZ Platform’s functions are quite limited at the moment. Some of the most useful applications that were once available with eZ Publish have since been eliminated from the new CMS’s core software; instead they are now offered as a part of the fee-based eZ Studios option. Further functions are to be added in the future.

But this will all depend of course on whether or not eZ Platform and eZ Studio are able to hold their own against competitors like Joomla, TYPO 3, or Drupal. For medium to large company websites with diverse content, the CMS has already got what it takes.