Altabel Group's Blog

Magnolia as Open Source CMS

Posted on: January 21, 2016

Java brings a lot of popular and user-friendly frameworks, content management systems and servers that help to simplify the application development process, website management process and much more irrespective of the size and complexity of the project. When it comes to CMS, Java possesses a host of CMSs that have been highly recognized in the market, but one CMS that has gained great popularity and attention from the developers and companies across the world is Magnolia.

Magnolia is an open source content management system which delivers exceptional simplicity on an enterprise level, combining user-friendly usage with a standards-based and flexible Java architecture. Companies such as Airbus Group, Al Arabiya, Avis and Virgin America use it as the central hub for their web, mobile and IoT initiatives. Founded in 1997, Magnolia is a privately-held company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. The company has offices around the globe, and customers in over 100 countries.

Making a good CMS to cater the needs of the clients is never an easy task, and the developers Magnolia knows this thing better. Hence, Magnolia brings some of the much needed features and functionalities for the enterprises.

• Magnolia comes with a smart cache, a built-in clustering capabiliy and distributed deployment architecture that easily decouples authoring from publishing and the possibility to develop load-balanced public servers to bring more throughput and availability.
• It also offer code highlighting for the designers & developers, easy integration of 3rd party frameworks, extendable workflow, J2EE compliance, RSS generation & aggregation and more for the customization.
• When it comes to designing, it brings standard-based templating in JSP and servlets, unlimited page and component design, Freemarker as a template engine, custom tag library to speed up templating and pluggable templating engine for the designers.
• It brings Open APIs, advanced caching strategies, unlimited scalability, clustering & load balancing, transactional activation and tons of other performance related features & functionalities for the enterprises.
• From the security point of view, Magnolia brings flexible user permissions using role-based user management and distributed architecture, which is a need of today’s enterprises.
• It also enables team work through concurrent editing, deletion, address book, workgroup collaboration and some other features.
Apart from all these, Magnolia also enables search engine optimization, content tagging, configurable workflow, content versioning, social media integration, multilingual support, multi-site management, mobile publishing and tons of other enterprise-scale functionalities.


However, like any other technology or platform, Magnolia also has some advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at each of them:

The Pros
• It’s an open source.
• User friendly, easy to use for Administrators/Content Editors/Authors
• Good set of standard components in the standard templating kit (STK)
• Very flexible, almost anything can be customized
• Vast set of open modules for many additional features
• Leverage from page-based site or navigation.
• It utilizes installer, but the WAR files can be used to redeploy it to some other place.

The Cons
• Steep learning curve
• Inconsistent or lack of documentation
• Configuration via JCR-Tree can be error-prone and not very transparent
• Versions -4.5, 4.5+ and 5 all have shifts in paradigms
• Versioning and collaboration

All in all, Magnolia is a very promising CMS that integrates well into an enterprise java stack. It is predominantly suited for medium to large businesses where processes need deep integration and customizations. With regards to small businesses, Magnolia might be somewhat of an overkill.

How about you? Did you have a chance to work with Magnolia CMS? What is your attitude to it?

Please feel free to share with us your thoughts and experience here below.


Kate Kviatkovskaya

Kate Kviatkovskaya

Business Development Manager

Skype: kate.kviatkovskaya
LI Profile: Kate Kviatkovskaya



Altabel Group

Professional Software Development


1 Response to "Magnolia as Open Source CMS"

Thanks Kate for this great article.

I think we should also mention that configuring templates and components in Magnolia’s standard templating kit is quite complicated and dull. Combined with your conclusion that Magnolia “might be somewhat of an overkill” for small businesses, I think they are better off with an intranet solution like MyHub (


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