What is ETL and CMS?

You’re a programmer with a task to retrieve information from some source, manipulate and message it, and to deploy it somewhere.

Like all things in programming, there is an acronym for that: “ETL”.

ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load. The Wikipedia page is pretty thorough in its summary of the topic and reviews many of the typical functions an ETL process needs to take to accomplish its task.

The problem is ETL doesn’t roll off the tongue so easy. The acronym provides a weak set of metaphors for programmers to map familiar concepts to.

Rafe Colburn provides a great mental model to apply when developing ETL scripts and applications. It’s one I follow, but have lacked the words to describe. Go read his post.

Here’s a thought to challenge you if you are a CMS developer, now that you have read the above – are whatever forms you build to enable people to contribute and manage content in a CMS a kind of ETL process? Does the Wikipedia description for “Extract, Transform, and Load” contain functions there that you would expect a CMS to encompass?

And speaking of CMS, Gadgetopia has a terrific article on what a CMS system is. It is difficult to be clarifying in a world where hype and acronyms get thrown about so much (like this very post!) – but the Gadgetopia piece certainly is. It helps outline the functionality you should expect from a CMS implementation.