2 May 2016
Salsa Digital

About open CMSs

Open CMSs are part of the broader open source movement, a movement that lends itself to sharing, and to building a community. Salsa Digital, as part of our commitment to all things open (open government, open data, open platform and open design), embraces the significant potential and benefits of open source. Open source CMSs have been playing a large role in delivering benefits to many organisations since the inception of ‘open source’ back in the late 1990s.

Why open CMS?

Open source software technologies, such as open source CMSs, create an even playing field across the globe for software development and innovation. Whereas proprietary/licensed software development and innovation is most often located outside Australia (e.g. Silicon Valley or low-cost offshore regions) open source technology can be enhanced and developed by members of the particular open source community, anywhere in the world.

Open CMSs deliver many benefits including:

  • Reduced costs for web development (no license fees, plus reduced costs through the use of existing components contributed by the community)

  • Global and active communities, global and active adoption

  • Collaboration and knowledge sharing with diverse people from different locations around the world coming together to solve problems, create new features, etc.

  • Minimised vendor lock-in (and the unfortunately too common ‘$ proprietary liability’)

  • Reduced risks (code has already been tested and used)

Some of the specific benefits of the open source CMS Drupal are:

  • Enterprise-grade website CMS with sophisticated content publication workflow capabilities

  • Highly maintained and secure by an active and global community

  • Open source with no license fees

  • 1M+ global community contributors

  • Strong worldwide adoption across government and enterprise

  • Winner of several global open source CMS awards

Drupal and Wordpress are the two most commonly used CMSs at Salsa, because of their many features and benefits. Our developers like them because they provide an open, modular and extensible framework to make building sophisticated sites easy. Our clients like them because they enable them to manage rich content among publications teams in sophisticated they’re very affordable compared to proprietary systems.

Looking at government applications, GovCMS (a Drupal-based whole-of-government digital platform designed by government for government) enables government to deliver great digital content and great digital services in a way that’s easy and intuitive to access and digest. This has flow-on effects for citizens, such as:

  • Reduced web development costs for taxpayers

  • Improved usability (through the community of components)

  • Better site accessibility (templates are W3C compliant)

  • Responsive sites (templates allow for viewing on desktops, tablets and smartphones)

Open CMS and open government

Open CMSs are one of Salsa’s four pillars for the delivery of open government in Australia. The many benefits open source delivers makes open CMSs compelling propositions for government.

Who’s using open CMSs?

Open source CMSs are used by a host of governments and organisations around the world, including:

In addition, there are nearly 200 government websites in Australia currently using the Drupal distribution that’s been customised for Australian government, GovCMS. These agencies include:

  • Department of Communications and the Arts

  • Department of Finance

  • Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

  • Australian Passport Office

  • Royal Australian Air Force


  • Victoria’s Department of Premier and Cabinet

  • SA Department of Education

  • Brisbane City Council

View an up-to-date list of the current GovCM S clients.

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