Plain Black Updates Its Open Source CMS

The spruced-up version of its WebGUI features virtual cash register and survey builder.

Ed Scannell, Contributor

February 11, 2009

2 Min Read

Hoping to bolster its position in the Web-based content management system market, Plain Black has rolled out a spruced-up version of its flagship product that makes it easier to maintain Web content and features a new point-of-sale cash register.

The point-of-sale capability added to the 7.6 version of WebGUI now lets authorized users work with a virtual cash register. The new feature was added to make it easier for companies at remote events such as trade shows, for instance, to sell tickets and products directly to customers.

Another new capability the company believes is significant is an improved survey builder, making it easier to create surveys that can be used to collect information from customers. Also new is a matrix application to assist Web site managers in creating comparison charts that can be then updated in real time.

Many of the changes made to the latest version were inspired largely from the wish lists of the company's corporate customers.

"We think the new version reflects the interests of our worldwide user base that has been carefully evaluated for reliability and ease of use," said Tavis Parker, Plain Black's VP of marketing.

The new version sports a pluggable Account Manager framework meant to ease the pain associated with creating Web sites and social networking applications. Using the framework, developers can do a better job of customizing the account system.

The framework's interface is tabbed so users can carry out a number of tasks, including sending and receiving messages and taking a look at various contributions made to the site, Parker said.

Because it's pluggable, corporate and third-party developers can swap in and out new functions to better support the customized applications they create. Developers also are able to turn off those components on their sites users aren't likely to use.

Another new capability users wanted, Parker said, is called comparison charts, which is intended to evaluate competitive products or feature matrixes. The technology is driven by an Ajax-compatible chart generator that more quickly loads chart information and has a speedier search capability that allows it to go out and collect data faster.

Finally, Plain Black has added to version 7.6 the ability to upload photos to a Web site from any location. This eliminates the need for administrators to make a trip to their Web sites to add photos. Instead, with a single click, pictures can be loaded into the product's Gallery where they're displayed on the Web. A plug-in that allows Apple's iPhone to work with the product is now available, company officials said.

Version 7.6 is free and can be downloaded at

How are other companies handling open source content management? InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).

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