OpenCms Documentation

Why OpenCms?

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Documented since: 9.5 Latest revision for: 9.5 Valid for OpenCms: 13.0

OpenCms is a feature-rich, industrial-strength, open-source content management system. You can use it for small websites, but you can also manage complex sites, building intranet and internet web sites and so on. It integrates seemlessly in your IT infrastructure and, using Java and XML, is based on powerful, widespread technologies.

Who should use OpenCms?

OpenCms is suitable for building highly complex multi-lingual websites, editable by manifold users with different permissions. You will profit particularly if your website's content has to be easily editable by users with no technical background knowledge, possibly in multiple languages. Thus OpenCms plays to its strength in internet or intranet sites of (large international) companies or organizations, where various employees edit content.

For your private website, OpenCms may be the choice as well. You need to put some effort into designing your own content types and setting up your own layout - or just use and adjust the demo template. But, there are other CMSs that will come with more predefined templates and add-ons that you typically want on a private website. Furthermore, for running OpenCms you need to install the JDK on your web server and run a JVM. This will exclude most cheap options for hosting your private site.

Strengths of OpenCms

OpenCms has many strengths. Here you will get an impression of some of its main "pros".


With OpenCms you can build a website that perfectly fits your needs. The logic can be as complex as needed. Here's what facilitates building the perfect website easily:

  • The clear concept of content makes it easy to design content types that fit exactly to your needs.
  • Advanced permission system and user management allows easy configuration of which user can access which content or webpage and who can alter things.
  • OpenCms builds webpages based on JSPs (Java Server pages) - thus arbitrary Java code can run in the background to get the logic you want into your page.
  • The OpenCms module system makes it easy to add or remove functionality from OpenCms.
  • An OpenCms instance can run on a server cluster. So you can get the performance or reliability you need for your website.

Easy to use

OpenCms is easy to use for administrators as well as for content editors.

Those who install, maintain or administrate OpenCms will profit from these features:

  • OpenCms ships with a setup wizard making installation and configuration a trivial task
  • OpenCms has a straightforward templating system that makes it just a few-step-standard procedure to get the layout from your HTML prototype into an OpenCms template where content can simply be added, removed or moved by drag and drop
  • Most administrative tasks can be performed via a graphical user interface
  • Tasks can be automated: OpenCms provides various graphical user interfaces, but for many things: all you need is a command line. You can set up OpenCms automatically via a script and use the OpenCms shell to perform, for example, backup tasks automatically.
  • User administration can be handled by several persons for different organizational units

Those who edit and add content will profit from these features:

  • Textual content can be edited in place - just as using Word.
  • All content fields can be edited by a form-based editor with various intuitive widgets.
  • Content can be added to a page via drag and drop in the page editor.
  • Galleries provide intuitive handling of images and other binary files.
  • Pages can be added and moved via drag and drop in the sitemap editor.

Feature rich

OpenCms provides several features out of the box and new features can be added via your own modules, or freely available add-on modules. The default OpenCms installation already features:

  • Faceted search for your website based on Apache Solr
  • Support for highly configurable dynamic lists of content, such as news
  • PDF generation capabilities
  • Support for web forms (either to store input in content or in an extra database using a free add-on module)
  • Multi-lingual contents


OpenCms was first release in 2000. Since this time - more than 15 years ago - it has been continuously improved and developed with a focus on the needs of its users. When new OpenCms versions are released, the focus is not only on new features, but also on backward compatibility and upgrade options.

OpenCms has mainly been developed by Alkacon Software GmbH. Alkacon offers world-wide professional support on OpenCms, training and also some commercial extensions. Furthermore, many online agencies may help you building your site with OpenCms.

Low cost

OpenCms is open source. It is freely availableExcept the commercial add-ons.. This will

  • save you licence costs
  • make you independent of specific vendors.

Moreover, OpenCms is based on wide-spread standard formats and software components. Thus, setting up a website with OpenCms or extending it will require only a minimum level of very specific expert knowledge.