eZ Systems repins technology underpinnings

WCM is not a new industry. As a result, many Web CMS tools have aging technical foundations under the covers. Some vendors (like HP with TeamSite) do little to nothing about it. Others, like eZ Systems, change out their whole web development framework and templating engine. Either approach can have its downsides, but let’s focus on eZ Publish and how the new “guts” may affect its customer base.

Such a grand change can spur many negative emotions. When eZ competitor Drupal recently decided to make a similar switch to Symfony2 and Twig in a forthcoming version 8, you may have seen what happened. Part of the community split off and created a fork.

There are split emotions about eZ’s move as well. I’ve waited a few months to blog about this, because I wanted to see community’s reaction, as well as adoption of the new technology among customers.

Overall, eZ needed to change from a soon-to-be-archaic and proprietary codebase to a more modern approach. The aging foundation was becoming apparent, not only on the technical side, but also from an editorial experience perspective. (The UI, by the way, hasn’t been affected much by this change. And it still is click-heavy and dated. The eZ guys, I hear, are working on updating some bits of it.)

Current eZ publish versions 5.0 and 5.1 are based on a "dual kernel" approach. What this means is that the legacy system remains for the editorial UI, content repository, and core management functions. The new Symfony-based framework, however, operates at the API level (for REST and PHP) and delivers the visitor-facing experience.

So, it remains a bit complicated. I'm still waiting to hear great customer stories from the (partially) re-done platform.

Transitioning from a proprietary application framework to an industry standard is never simple. Customers have always reported that it's unusually easy to get yourself into trouble with eZ Publish. Until this modernization effort is fully complete, I expect to hear more of same.

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Gil Côté, Partner, Cancentric Solutions Inc.
iStudio Canada Inc.

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