ocPortal in Review
ocPortal has been gaining traction as a quality content management system (CMS) since its latest release. However, it hasn't gained the notoriety of the bigger players like Wordpress, Drupal, or Joomla. This has many people wondering if ocPortal is worth considering for their next website. Unfortunately, there is comparatively limited information about of the ocPortal website and forums. Here is a quick overview of ocPortal to give you an idea of what to expect.
A Quick Background
ocPortal was designed by the British company ocProducts. ocPortal was originally a commercial CMS platform, but has become an open source option over the past several years. It was designed to be a CMS that is not reliant on many outside addons in order to give webmasters everything that they could need. As with every CMS there are both pros and cons that need to be taken into consideration.
1. Out of the Box Functionality
The most obvious advantage of ocPortal is that it is full of features right out of the box. Important features like an excellent forum, banner campaign management and integration, shopping cart with membership functionality, downloads database, and SEO tools. In fact, there are currently very few addons available because there simply isn't a need for them.
2. Excellent Support
Since the transition from commercial to open source, there has been zero change in customer support. The forum is packed with people to help answer questions, including the original architect of the program. There are also a number of tutorials that are ready accessible to everyone. I highly suggest reading through several of the tutorials because they give you an excellent idea of how ocPortal is designed.
3. Enhanced Security
The built in security safeguards are some of the best available when compared to other CMS platforms. The premise of their security is by defining common ''hack attack situations''. There are currently 20 different hack attack situations that ocPortal is designed to automatically prevent. The ocPortal infrastructure is also designed so that webmasters can create ''secured zones'' that require a session to access them.
4. Variety of Content Options
ocPortal is designed to allow for 12 different content options to be used on any page.
- Blogs/News – Both you AND your members can have blogs
- Newsletter System – You can have unlimited newsletters and have them sent to either people who have subscribed or specific user groups.
- Independent custom pages
- A community database system that is designed very similar to Wiki
- A ''catalogues'' system – this system is designed so that you can create your own customized database records. This system has a multitude of uses and is often used when a webmaster needs content that does not fit into any other content option.
- Gallery – The gallery is designed to host both videos and pictures, even users can have their own gallery.
- Community Calender – This primarily useful when users need a way to coordinate activities with other users.
- Chat Room/Instant Messaging Capabilities – can be used by all users.
- Advanced Banner Exchange/Banner Management – This allows you to control all of the banners on your site. You can decide how often a banner appears, restrict the number of clicks on a banner, and even ''hit balancing''. Hit balancing is great for banner exchanges because it will only show a banner if someone from that website has clicked on your banner.
- User Engagement – Allows you to set up interactive content such as quizzes, surveys, and competitions.
- Points/Ecommerce – You can award points for anything, such as for user submitted content or can sell them outright. These points can then be redeemed for anything that you sell. It is also a great way for advertisers to buy clicks, space, or other privileges.
- Polls – You can create an unlimited number of polls to keep your readers engaged.
Since ocPortal still has a comparatively small fan base, some of the potential drawbacks may not be seen until farther into the future. However, there are some issues that stand out immediately.
1. Theme Wizard
ocPortal has a theme wizard to ensure that you have your website up and running in minutes. Unfortunately, it does little more than allow you to choose the color of your website. In order to make significant changes, you will need to either devote a large amount of time to getting used the architecture (primarily panels, menus, blocks, custom Comcode tags, and Comcode/Tempcode includes) or pay someone on the ocProducts staff to do it for you. Additionally, since the community is still small, there are very few places to find templates outside of the generic template that is given to you with CMS itself. Its complexity can seem very overwhelming initially.
2. Small Community
This is only a problem in the sense that it can take a long time for updates or new versions to be released. Additionally, since ocPortal is not designed with the intention of adding a bunch of extra addons, there simply are not many available.
All in all, ocPortal is a great option for some people and a terrible option for others. Regardless of your feelings about it, ocPortal is definitely a CMS to keep an eye on. If the community continues to grow, it could become one of the dominant open source CMS systems available.