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The Evolution and Future of Content Publishing

With Haris Mahmood

The Beginning

  • Hypertext

    • "Ye Olde Web" courtesy of Tim Berners-Lee

    • Intended to share research among researchers more seamlessly

    • Evolved into a proper standard, HTML… and grew exponentially into the "web of content"

    • The Internet has enabled better collaboration among people

    • BUT: Consumer Requirements hampered such seamless collaboration/efficiency

  • Content Management Systems:

    • Evolution happens in the web out of limitations and abilities/possibilities

      • We have content, that we need to manage into a system (hence a CMS)

        • Early examples: Rainman, Filenet, Enterprise-scale CMS (PHP-Nuke, etc.)
      • 2003: WordPress was born

        • Allowed unlimited customizations and 3rd party extensions

        • Launched the "CMS Explosion" (which produced Joomla, Drupal, MySpace)

    • A new focus developed - we needed something that’s simpler, intuitive, and easier to use

      • Enter Squarespace (and others)


  • Lots of CMS options, but also lots of concerns

    • Performance

      • Many CMS don’t have the best performance (e.g. WP is dependent on cache clearing)

      • Common tensions: Features vs Performance (i.e. dependence on tables and ‘gross’ HTML markup, i.e. unclean code)

      • Tim Preston-Warner: Produced Jekyll (to solve the problem of gross HTML - content must be in static HTML) - site generators

        • Significantly reduced site load time
    • Webhook

      • Open-source; allows you to do self-hosting
    • Site Leaf

      • Sits on top of Jekyll and integrates well with GitHub (e.g. hosting) - allows content changes via code, github or visual interface (you’re not tied to doing updates in a particular way)
  • Growth of new frameworks and libraries

    • New issue: Dev flexibility, content required on multiple platforms

    • Content API

      • Gave only the data

      • Separated data and presentation, i.e. decoupled

      • Eg. Prismic, Contentful


      • 40% of the Web is built on WP

      • Will allow to put content in just one place

  • APIs speed up publishing!

    • Keeps content consistent

    • Allows for parallel development

    • Huge, incredible potential

Helpful Tips

  • Given a project, take a step back and look at all the CMS options available

  • You don’t have a build a custom CMS right off the bat - focus on other things that matter more, e.g. performance, UX, etc.

  • Look at the requirements and needs of that particular project

  • Determine what’s most appropriate for your platform and project