I'm going to focus on php, mostly because it's durn easy to set up, and also to get involved in the community yourself with a few patches. php was once a joke of a language, but i quite think it's grown up while java got stagnant and bloated, and perl developers just got bitter and joined lisp developers who also expected to take over the world.
but i digress
Drupalfirst, the dearest to my heart is Drupal. I love it so because it's easy to contribute to. You submit a patch, and then be clear and precise in how your patch solves a bug, or makes something better. In general the codestyle agrees with the opinions i formed on my own. Functions should not speak, they instead return strings that you choose to echo or store or do something else with. you very seldom pull in code from global. There are tools to handle all the common things for you, like tables, sorting, lists, and an amazingly good forms api.
Drupal is ideal for a site that publishes thousands of items a day, and gets millions of hits -- or a site that published once a month and get a few hundred hits.
SilverstripeSilverstripe is a New Zealand opensourced website application. I've not used it for a "real" project as yet. However i did install it to have a look. It requires php5, and therefore on ubuntu / debian it also requires apache2. This is a hassle if you're on a shared host, but not unsurmountable.
Silverstripe has a heavily "AJAX"-ed publishing interface. It reminds me of windows xp (not that i've ever used windows xp, but i've seen xp on youtube). It seems to me that silverstripe is intended for building a website of pages, and then linking them together. You can log in and edit a page. All the linking from page to page is managed by yourself (with <a> anchors). This is ideal for a static site you need to build quickly, and retain a way to edit details quickly (or hand out a login to a non-geek to edit pages later).
WordpressWordpress -- this isn't a CMS, it's a Blog, but it has been used for Content Management, and with the right plugins and your own theme you could make a fairly good content driven website.
I'm right now developing wordpress code + plugins for a client. The documentation isn't complete, but there is some. The code base isn't so big, so it's feasible to just read the code to work out what's going it. It's also got ajax requests going on within the admin/publishing interface. There's a plugin api, that is driven by actions. When an action occurs (menus, category lists, post saves) then your plugin that has registered that action will also be run. Fully Themeable also - and it must be the most popular (and well respected) blog software on the planet.
CakewalkThis is a MVC framework for php. It claims to support postgresql, but i've found multible SQL errors each time i've tried. The mailing list tell me i should be running the CVS version, which doesn't seem like a good idea for a reliable website.
Cakewalk attempts to follow in the ruby on rails glory. They're still a work in progress, so keep watching.
Joomla.. i really *should* know this CMS, but i haven't.Mostly the lack of postgresql support meant it wasn't an option for any project i've worked on so far.
Other related posts:
Google Code Jam
ANZ's Internet banking goes to insane lengths to be more insecure..
microsoft supporting old edition of ODF
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