Skip to content


This chapter gives an overview of imperia CMS's functionality. The various concepts and components of this system will be discussed in this chapter. These include:

  • system architecture

  • data storage and document model

  • group concept

  • workflow

  • iWE

You can find details about imperia 's installation in the installation manual.

This documentation is referring to version 11 of imperia. If your system is running on an older version, you might notice differences in some features.

Data Storage and Document Model#

imperia offers various options for the data storage backend. You have the choice of saving data on a file system. This is quite performant for small- and medium-sized projects. Alternatively, you can store your data in a relational database system. imperia supports a number of commercial and free database systems.

After installation, imperia stores documents on the file system. If another source of data storage is to be used, this should be set before documents are generated. However, you can later switch the data management, using an imperia script. For more information, see chapter System Administration.

An imperia document is a collection of information. Apart from the actual content, a document includes descriptive information, such as the author or the used template. imperia stores that information in the so-called meta fields. These are structured as key-value pairs, where the key specifies the name of a field and the value is its contents. Each key represents a meta variable, each value is the content of that variable.

Some meta fields will be generated at the moment of creation of a document. Among others, these include the following key-value-pairs:

Key Example value
directory /news/current
template myTemplate
meta file myMeta

These keys and values ​​of a document are inherited from the properties of the category, a user has selected when creating the new document. Each of the key-value pairs can be changed at any point in the workflow, for example, with a workflow plug-in (MetaEdit) or by a user in the Edit step.

Group Concept#

An essential part of imperia's development system is the group concept. Groupsgive a user rights to access imperia modules, for example, the Media Asset Management (MAM) or the Archive, and to execute functions, such as creating a new document or documents unlock.

Furthermore, groups give users privileges to different categories that represent specific areas of a project. In this way they can execute functions only in these project areas.

Groups are often assigned so that each group gives certain features or access to certain sections. Each user can be assigned to multiple groups at the same time, so that he or she receives the sum of privileges of all assumed groups.

For more information see Users and Groups.


The different topics of a project in imperia can be represented by categories. These can be divided into several subcategories. The settings of categories and subcategories are dependant on each other. A name of a category has to be unique for its level, which means that within the same subtree there cannot be two categories named, for example, “news”.

With imperia 's permissions management, you determine who can read and write in each category. For a user to create documents in a subcategory, he or she must have at least read permissions for all parent categories.

Any document that is generated in a given category receives some of the category's properties, stored in meta variables:

  • Directory (meta variable directory)

  • Template (meta variable template)

  • Meta file (meta variable metafile)

  • Workflow at entry point

Further information in the Category chapter.


Often, a company has a series of steps for preparing the content for Internet, Intranet and Extranet. These could be, for example, entering information about a page, entering contents and approval for publishing.

In imperia, a series of such steps is called a workflow. imperia workflows can be defined freely. You can map almost every conceivable set of operations. Each document has to go through its workflow before it is ready for publishing.

Each step of the workflow is represented by a workflow plug-in. A range of workflow plug-ins is provided in the delivery package. A workflow is formed by connecting series of individual plug-ins. The tool to create and modify workflows is a graphical interface called the Grid.

Workflow plug-ins are divided into interactive and non-interactive. Interactive ones expect user input. Such is the Edit plug-in - it provides a template in EDIT mode and expects a user to enter and store content.

A non-interactive plug-in is, for example, the Metasetter plug-in that uses a meta variable of a document to set a value. For example, this can also define control variables for a workflow.

As there are plug-ins that process a document's meta variables, there are such that check variables' values. For example, the IfElse plug-in that can change the further processing of a document in a workflow.

So you have both the ability to set meta variables, as well as the ability to check values of meta variables and then decide on the further workflow of a document. These two options make the workflow in imperia a very powerful and convenient tool when it comes to tracking a company's existing workflow.

Further information can be found in the Workflows chapter.

iWE2 - imperia 's WYSIWYG Editor#

The iWE2 (imperia's WYSIWYG editor) is the “What You See Is What You Get” editor in imperia. It is based on the the CK Editor and adapted to the requirements of imperia CMS.

Further information can be found in the iWE2 chapter and in the programming manual as well as user manual.