dotCMS was initially developed as a Java alternative to the PHP CMSes on the market, as well as to provide a counterpoint to high cost, enterprise applications. It is the result of over 8 years of development, which also developed and released the open source project management tool dotProject, Both dotCMS and dotProject were conceived and originated by the dotCMS team.

In April 2009 version 1.7 was released, introducing a plugin architecture, providing a wide range of extension points. A Windows installer to expedite the installation process was released October 2009.

In July 2010, dotCMS released version 1.9, in which major portions of the system have been rewritten from the ground up and includes a completely revamped UI and new API architecture.

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