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The distinction between the terms ''content management system'' (CMS) and ''document management system'' (DMS) is fuzzy.
''Content management system'', the newer of the two terms, implies a system that provides the capability to store and manage not just entire documents, but also to store and manage chunks of content that might be seen as "components" or "fragments" of documents. But note that XML/SGML-based systems described as "document management systems" usually provide this same capability (though many non-XML/SGML-based systems don't) and were providing it before the term ''content management system'' was coined.
''Document management system'' is used exclusively in older guides such as Todd Freter's XML: Document and Information Management, Eliot Kimber's SGML Document Management, and Goldfarb/Pepper/Ensign's SGML Buyer's Guide, though these guides make mention of "managing not only documents but also the information components of which the documents are composed" (Freter), of "working with documents and their components" (Kimber), and of the fact that "one of the main benefits to be gained from managing SGML documents and components in a DMS is the facility to share components among documents" (SGML Buyer's Guide), and so on.
In his more recent XML and Databases paper, Ron Bourret uses the term ''content management system'' exclusively and says that a content management system is a system that allows you "to break your documents into discrete content fragments, such as examples, procedures, chapters, or sidebars, as well as metadata, such as author names, revision dates, and document numbers, rather than having to manage each document as a whole."
Some of the features that content management systems and document management systems generally provide:
- versioning/version control, for maintaining a record of multiple versions of content
- revision tracking, for keeping a record of changes made to content
- check-in and check-out features, for providing access to content
- access control, to prevent unauthorized access to content
- locking, to prevent multiple users from updating content at the same time
- querying, for searching for and retrieving content managed by the system
Not that most content and document management systems make use of a database of some kind to store content.