Andrew Minton

stuff and things I see and do

Andrew Minton

More musings on choices of CMS


Well i’ve been dealing with three really nice php based CMS systems over the last year and all three have their pro’s and cons. Now i’m not the best of quickest coder in the world, but I know what I want to achieve and get there eventually.. these three offerings of CMS have enabled me to achieve this with considerable ease. Click below to read more.

  1. Firstly CMSMS (CMS Made Simple). It’s a tough one to decide between this one and WordPress for speed of setup.. but I like the page based structure of CMSMS and the way you can create your templates from scratch using plain text editor in the CMS itself or offline and upload into a new blank template. which has had a nice re-design lately.. is a great resource of plugins/modules and an active forum of mixed developers and designers.. all chipping in to the big but lean creation of a CMS. At it’s core it is using a nice visual method of editing and adding customised content blocks to you pages called smarty {smarty tage} such as the curly bracketed markup, allows you to customise the layout and presentation of your pages with ease. As a front end developer at heart (maybe a wanna be :p ) I can see the benefits of easy drag and drop or quick typing of these tags into page templates to insert things like Breadcrumbs and sitemaps.. loads of potetnial here…. Biggest benefit of CMSMS is it’s speed of getting to grips with what you have to do to get a nice site up and running.. there is an out of the box template which is pretty sweet and a fair few downloadable templates as a resource on the site. It could benefit from a few more polished templates, gut one or two designers have picked it up and are now producing some very high end polished templates…
  2. Ahh WordPress, the blog platform of blog platforms.. and now a CMS solution… Having used WordPress for just shy of 2 years, I am quickly coming to rally like it’s flexibility and simplicity.. and it’s a battle between CMSMS and WordPress at every turn for me right now when it comes to site building.. The Multi Language ability of WordPress far exceeds any CMS i’ve used so far.. others have tried (and halted in their tracks) but WordPress coders are very keen to push the Multi Lingual ability of this CMS out to the world using plugins such as Qtranslate and WPML etc.. THE most versatile off the shell CMS out there right now.. Biggets gripe for me is the bloat on install.. if you want a skeleton of a CMS to build from, you’ve got to work at it with this boy.. there are probably a few CMS plugins out there that serve the purpose of stripping it all back for you.. but I’ve yet to find one that does the job well.
  3. The wildcard for me is and always will be Symphony-CMS. An amazing community of coders and developers, pooling together to build a very light weight php and XSLT driven CMS. I’ve built 2 simple sites with this CMS, with great help from the Symphony Community, who are more than happy to assist in technical conundrums… And I think for me this is the gripe with it.. if you are more of a front end developer, it’s a steep learning curve to get to grips with the approach of Sections and Fields, Page Templates and Utilities and then Pages, Datasources and Events.. all making up the MVC method of content separation.. of Model – View – Controller.. The beauty in this CMS is you build the whole thing from the ground up.. how the front end looks and more recently with “Extensions” how the back end if laid out for you and your clients. I for one am following this one until it clicks and I can get my hands dirty with Version 2.2. which is in beta at present.. SO the future is bright, the future is a combo of these three CMS’s right now.. Joomla (bloat + confusing MVC model), Drupal (steep curve to grasp the basics)… HAve heard Contrete5 mentioned and Mambo, but feel they are too immature for use right now.

All in all a very happy bunny to be fiddling with these CMS’s. They do bring the ability to deliver interesting solutions to your clients and offering extensions and modules on a weekly basis that enhance the core of all three.. Facebook and twitter connections plus video and audio gallery integrations are a sinch in all three. NOw all you need is a decent Hosting company to run these beauties and it really is worth scoping out a few before you delve in too deep… some hosting providers just won’t cope with the demand on resources from these CMS’s especially ones with high traffic.. Shared Hosting is a tricky one to call when you use the CMS’s.. I use an Amazon S3 file hosting solution to offload the demand on static assets for most of my sites.. to ensure the CPU load is minimal on what I can control.. Lot’s to learn but loads already absorbed into this brain in 1 year .. enough to fry 2 eggs and a rasher of Bacon.. 🙂