What is a DMS?

Posted · 95 Comments
blueprint

When DMS launches on Wednesday, it will be the world’s first official ‘Design Management System.’

A lot of people have asked the question: “what is a design management system?” Well, here, let’s go over some of the concepts behind a DMS. What they mean, and why they matter.

Why are DMS’s important?

Before we get into it, let’s quickly explain why the concept of a DMS is important. Why it has the potential to change things.

To do that, we have to rehash the weaknesses in themes and the weaknesses with drag and drop builders (WYSIWYGs, etc..).

The issue with Drag and Drop Builders

In the old days, everyone used to custom code websites. This was highly technical, and slow.

People immediately started asking, “why can’t I make my website like I make a PowerPoint presentation?”
This is where the idea of WYSIWYG builders came from.

So out came tools like FrontPage, Dreamweaver, and more recently, services like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc..

These tools solved an important problem: they let you customize without coding. Which is why people have and still use systems like these.

Unfortunately, all these tools suffer from several issues related to the methodology.

Web design doesn’t really work in harmony with a WYSIWYG system.

Essentially because you can’t drag and drop out *professional* web design (like a feature slider or carousel). There is too much technical interactively.

All this markup, ack! My eyes!

All this markup, ack, My eyes!

They also clog up your site with TONS of markup which prevents responsive design, seo, etc..

So essentially what you get is an unprofessional looking website, that is poorly structured, and actually took you longer to build. This is where themes came in.

The issue with Themes

Most professionals these days use themes and WordPress (or another CMS) to build their sites. This is because themes allow you to professional design elements to your website and they are typically plug and play.

However, themes suffer from one key issue: you have to code to customize them.

This is where things get tedious and as discussed in The Problem with Themes, it leads to other issues that take lots of time to deal with.

The case for a DMS

A DMS successfully gets around the biggest problems with themes and builders. It is as easy to customize as a builder, yet as professional and plug-and-play as a theme. Thus, it should be the best practice way to build websites once its released.

Diagram showing the comparative positioning of DMS

Diagram showing the comparative positioning of DMS

Now that’s out of the way… Let’s get into the definition of a DMS.

DMS vs. Themes vs. Frameworks vs. Builders?

A DMS is characterized by 5 key attributes.

These things are actually what define a DMS. If a tool doesn’t have all of these features, it is most likely a framework, or a builder, or a theme.

Here are the attributes:

 

1. It has a modular drag and drop system

There is an important distinction between DMS’ and WYSIWYG builders. A DMS has a modular system, while WYSIWYGs have a free-form style drag and drop.

The difference is that modular systems don’t break the page element flow and they don’t rely on inline CSS to create a structure.

Modular systems allow you to create high-performance, symantically structured markup; which is why this is an important distinction in a DMS.

Modular drag and drop

Modular drag and drop

2. It needs an extension system for design and functionality

A DMS also requires an easy, code-free way to add additional design into your modular system. For this PageLines relies on the PageLines Store and the tight-knit 300 community (for creating new extensions)

This allows you to add and remove design to your system and gives you a way to evolve your site.

For adding additional functionality, DMS supports the standard WordPress plugin system. Yup, that means it supports WP’s 26,000 plugins too.

New PageLines Design Store

New PageLines Design Store

3. A robust underlying CMS

No DMS is complete without a rich, underlying CMS infrastructure. For PageLines DMS, WordPress suits this purpose.

The CMS handles all the content and ‘meta’ information, while the DMS handles all design options, page structure and theming.

Gool 'ol WordPress post management

Gool ‘ol WordPress post management

4. It is faster than a theme, more flexible and easier than a builder

There are several drag and drop tools out there that allow you to customize a part of your site using their functionality. A good example of this is the WordPress widgets system.

These systems don’t cut it as they don’t allow you full customizability and you inevitably end up coding or dealing with technical issues you didn’t want or expect in a drag and drop system.

Many builders have good intentions, yet are extremely and complicated to use. Which defeats the point.

A DMS must be faster and easier than builders AND themes to earn the title.

5. A Dynamic Template System

Inside of WordPress there has long been several problems with theming. Specifically, many things need to be hard coded and that creates vast usability issues.

A true DMS needs a way to dynamically add and remove templates, that can then be transported from install to install. This is useful in theming and in portability.

Dynamic Template System

Dynamic Template System

Don’t call it a framework (or a theme) please?

Since DMS for WordPress is installed as a theme in the CMS (we have to install it somewhere!) people sometimes refer to PageLines as a framework or theme. Hopefully, this article illustrates why it’s more of a system, or specifically a DMS…

Calling DMS a framework, or worse a ‘theme’, is like calling a space shuttle a ‘plane’ because they both use a runway to land and they both fly.

It just doesn’t make sense ;)

Additional Reading

If you’re interested in more reading on the DMS concept…
Kenneth Jamieson over at Samurai Developer has written an awesome article called “Can PageLines DMS Save WordPress?” Check it out!

James Giroux has also written an awesome article on his experience as a DMS beta member. Read “DMS is Coming” here.

If you STILL haven’t seen the teaser for the upcoming DMS launch on Wednesday, check that out too!

87 comments
nolimit2it
nolimit2it

I've played with a few of the "builders" and I've even used some of the themes that have "frameworks" and child themes... all of them are either messy to use or restricted in their abilities. If this is as good as it sounds it could revolutionize the way we build sites. If I could save 1 day for every site I have built in the past 2 yrs I would have saved up almost 2 months worth of relaxing time... whoohoo!!

JojoBombardo
JojoBombardo

Would it be possible to download the demo content and import it to play around with all the cool features ?

ifew
ifew

very excited.

webmktgco
webmktgco

So many questions.. I hope these will be addresses-

1. How are child themes handled?

2. Still can edit style.css, other files?

3. Real time editor seems VERY slow.  Will this improve?

4. Are we able to set template width numerically?


Lots more, but these are the most pressing.


Thanks!



mediumstudio
mediumstudio

So, this only works in Chrome? I have font issues with it (seems like its Mac, only). I am psyched, otherwise, to see something like this come to fruition. I've been looking for something like this for years ...

scottsdalescott
scottsdalescott

Im a bit confused on the  upgrade path of a site. If I purchase a license for the DMS is it then applied to an existing site and the site becomes manageable under DMS? Or do you have to begin with one of the themes from the DMS store?

I got confused when I went to purchase a license and the first thing the site wanted me to do is purchase ad-ons (such as themes).

If anyone can point me to a link where I can better understand this upgrade path for existing sites I would appreciate it.

aliceerickson
aliceerickson

I'm with Invisioning in that I'm very concerned. I very recently purchased a Pagelines Pro license and several add ons. It's not clear to me at all if these are even usable under DMS. Could somebody at Pagelines give us an explanation on that? Do I throw out what I've already bought and start over again? Do I get a discount on DMS? ??

Invisioning
Invisioning

I had the purchased version of Pagelines and I'm very concerned that the monies spent on that is gone and now I'm going to have to purchase monthly.

How is this DMS overlaying the existing PL installations?

Purchased store plugins that were purchased are no longer available?

I love pagelines and understand you need to be paid for development.  I'm hoping that those who supported you in the past are not forgotten in this roll out...

Deepsouth41
Deepsouth41

Two questions:

1) When you buy one of the plugins or styles from the store can you use it on multiple sites, or do you have to buy a copy for each site?

2) The free version hardly had any options. How many styling options does DMS have? I like to get into very fine positioning and head sizes etc

thanks

gleenk
gleenk

The death of webdesigner, front-end developers and coders. 

Iamak
Iamak

Hello, 

I tried on Firefox Version 22 and DMS demands for Chrome. Am I missing something? 

thinklearnearn
thinklearnearn

44 years ago today July 24th 1969 Apollo 11 splashed down after landing on The Moon on July 20th - This date July 24th 2013 - will be just as important to the world of building and developing websites -Thumbs up to DMS and PageLines for thinking outside the box.... oh and today July 24th is also my sister Donna's 53rd birthday ;) -
Carpe Diem - Robert

knowtheoffers
knowtheoffers

Looking forward to the release of the DMS, have followed all the discussion on your site but i have a number of questions for you which might be answered when this finally goes live. 

One of my concerns is the new DMS store which shows various monthly charges for difference licenses, it seems pagelines is heading down the road of  a cashcow, i have the developer license and its your pattern that you charge more for every "new" stuff you roll out and during your last roll out of PL i had no choice than to buy it because i build a prominent site with PL

Will current pagelines still be supported and for how long? I guess within a year or two, you will come up with another inspiration which will mean we have to pay.

Definitely this DMS might be the break or make it for me with PL...

I hope this new 3 layered tool ( i called it ) will live up to the hype and ultimately will be easy to use, and well supported.

Iamak
Iamak

Hello,

Can you tell me if there is any kind of eligibility criteria to get invitations. Whom would you send the earlier invitations? Only for top contributors or something?

Thanks!


Lucas Garvin
Lucas Garvin

So excited for DMS! The team over at Visify is looking forward to making our development projects exclusively in DMS.

Crispee
Crispee

after watching today's demo -- i'm very excited.

mikkelbreum
mikkelbreum

Where can I read about the difference between the open source version of DMS and the PRO features (what is it that you can't do with the free version)?

mikkelbreum
mikkelbreum

@arpowers if I buy a personal or business license now, and use the 10% launch code, will I be able to later uprade to business/developer, and still have the 10% applied to the new amount?

CaseyGraffix
CaseyGraffix

Found this and it also looks very interesting, seems as if they are going down the DMS path also, no mention on when it will be released though. http://ultimatumx.com they are also claiming it to be the ultimate design suite???

TheRedBaron
TheRedBaron

I started with Platform Pro and was amazed at the extra functionality of Framework in comparison. Can't wait to find out what this next evolution brings!

simfrantzen
simfrantzen

Well let's see what surprise I will receive, for me it is important to interactively change my page layouts, no difficult coding, just drag an drop, change colours or whatever, i have used pagelines before, but for eventual customers that would be to difficult, for me a good solution would mean that I could setup a basic theme for my customer, but that a customer has the freedom to easily add their own ideas to the theme. Well let's see and wait

Iamak
Iamak

Amongst the page builders Greg's http://wordpress.org/plugins/siteorigin-panels/ is brilliant with it's widget integration and responsive layout. Themify's Page Builder framework also looks promising. 

Can you tell me if DMS have widget integration capability just like Site-Origin's?


Csfalcao
Csfalcao

Too good to be real? It's exactly what I was dreaming for: for those of you who knows the html/css Mac app Flux, you just drag and drop text, image and it will create menus, div, etc automatically. Move a title  or change a font and all other divs will adapt to it. 

It's like creating your page in Wordpress directly in fronted.

If Pagelines live up to the promises, that will be an earthquake the themes market. Truly, DMS would be explained with just one feature: take total control of your site.

nphaskins
nphaskins

@aliceerickson Don't worry about the add-ons, we've (third party devs) been working very hard to update them all. I updated all 30 of my store extensions and work perfect with DMS.

hollylisle
hollylisle

@knowtheoffers That's the problem I have, too. I also have the developer's license for Pagelines, which was supposed to include everything, but at this point seems to include nothing. So though this looks good, I guess I'm out.

Lucas Garvin
Lucas Garvin

@Iamak Do you mean beta invitations? If so, there aren't any. The full product will be released tomorrow. I'm not exactly sure what time, it could be in 45 minutes for all I know, but I do know that it will be tomorrow.

Crispee
Crispee

@CaseyGraffix  While i like Ultimatum to a point they are very scattered when it comes to support and overpromising.  

soulhuntre
soulhuntre

@CaseyGraffix I played with that in the past and like so many of these plug ins it is seriously hampered by the context it lives in. It is constrained, and there is almost no third party ecosystem. 

Play with the free version of DMS< you will see what I mean when I say there is no comparison.

arpowers
arpowers moderator

@Iamak Ya DMS is gonna be something completely different. I'd classify both the above in the 'builder' category. 

jancaynes
jancaynes

@nphaskins @aliceerickson I tried DMS last night on a subdirectory of a multisite.  Got a fatal error on the entire site and had to delete DMS and the sections plugin in order to get my site back up.  That's aside from not being able to access the cool plugins Nick made and I already purchased.  I  was being forced back into repurchase.  Looks like I'm out for DMS.

Crispee
Crispee

@bfrye26 @Crispee yes - they did a livestream demo to several of us.  hopefully that's ok to say.  Very impressive stuff that I think everyone will be happy about.  

DaveBlewitt
DaveBlewitt

@Crispee @CaseyGraffix I've been reading reviews on the current version in blogs and they rated it really well at the time of writing but many articles have messages telling people to avoid it due to the lack of developer response and bugs. Glad I went with my gut feeling and purchased DMS.

Lucas Garvin
Lucas Garvin

@Iamak @Crispee @bfrye26 The demos are complete to my knowledge and I don't believe they were recorded. DMS should be live and ready by morning of the 24th. As far as I know.

Iamak
Iamak

@DaveBlewitt @Crispee @CaseyGraffix Did you purchase DMS? I am not seeing any thing about the product purchase. Can you provide a link for me and tell me where did you purchase  it :)  ?