QUEST FOR A CMS

15. April 2006, 21:09 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

Well, I have broken down and decided that making the site a bit interactive might not be such a bad thing. I found that I liked the general theme of The Birches but not the layout and so have decided to redo the site somewhat and am in the process of transferring the content over. I don’t know if it will be done in time for the CSS Reboot showcase or not, but one can hope.

I have been evaluating the various CMS’s and frameworks that are available and appropriate for the purpose. My list, after doing some introductory research, consisted of the following (in no particular order): Zope/Plone, Xaraya, Drupal, Joomla, Expression Engine, Movable Type, WordPress, and TextPattern.

It did not take long to decide that for the size of my personal sites that using Plone/Zope, Xaraya, Joomla would be unnecessary overkill. They are all good choices but are far to extensive for the simple job I needed to do. That left me with a nice group of four to work with.

First up was Movable Type. I really liked this product. I liked the ability to generate the entire site as static pages, though many don't care for this feature. I also liked that it was written in PERL as I am more familiar with that language than PHP. Movable Type was fairly easy to install and get going. I had some troubles with a couple of plugins and theme installation. There have also been reports that it can be prone to SPAM but that's not an unusual occurance for any package that permits public comment.

Next to try was Wordpress. This was also an easy install and setup and it was easy to get started right away. Themes and plugins were easy to install. Unfortunately I found it difficult/awkward to customize the way I wanted. Part of this was due to its principal design as a web log (blogging) tool and partially due to my lack of expertise in customising PHP. If I wanted a solid basic blogging engine this would have been an excellent choice.

Third on the original schedule was Textpattern, but I got enthusiastic about ExpressionEngine and wanted to try it so had a go at the pMachine offering next. Expression Engine is a powerful, flexible solution. It would suit my needs and indeed considerable greater needs, easily. I did find its documentation confusing in places and its templating features while powerful were a bit puzzling at times as well. I think if I had more time to come up to speed this would be a great tool to learn. Unfortunately, time was in short supply and I wanted to get these sites online without investing major learning curve time on the infrastructure.

Lastly I came to Textpattern. While many say save the best for last it certainly was not intentional in this case - it just worked out that way. The package installed quickly and easily, configuration was a snap, and while the default template has got to be the plainest in the world, it has proven to be a snap to customise. The tag system is reminiscent of Movable Type with the entensibility of Expression Engine and the simplicity of Wordpress. The one major drawback that Textpattern has, and that is changing gradually, is the scattered nature of the documentation. The wiki site however and the forums make an invaluable resource. Textpattern is not perfect, but for a free, flexible and extensible solution it is hard to beat for small to medium sized projects.

As you can gather from the last paragraph, this site and my amateur radio site The Yak Shack have been done using Textpattern. I highly recommend it.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: CMS,Textpattern,Expression Engine,Xaraya,Drupal,Plone,Zope,Movable Type,Wordpress

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