CMS observations

Published by mithat on Sunday, 12 July 2009

This is here because I don’t have anywhere better to put it at the moment.

Here are some observations regarding some lightweight CMS.

First, let it be understood that CMS does not mean blogware! There seems to be some confusion here. While A CMS may include blogging features or even be authored exclusively to support blogging, CMS is a more general concept. What I am investigating here are CMSs that are are good for use as portals and/or building brochure sites. A review of blogging platforms belongs elsewhere.

In the context of this review, lightweight means that the software doesn’t require MySQL or a similar heavy DB program.

Comments will tend to be more critical than not because I am just a grumpus.

The requirements

The following are absolutely required:

  • Flat file or SQLite2/3
  • SEO and/or otherwise decent page names
  • Easy WYSIWYG/M available

It can be assumed that these requirements are met by the systems below unless specifically mentioned otherwise.

The following would be nice to have:

  • Different templates for different pages
  • Multiple content areas
  • Drop down menus
  • ‘News’ support — or the ability to pull in RSS from e.g. a blog
  • Image and other file mgmt that doesn’t require leaving the CMS
  • Is it too much to ask to have a list of pages within the site when creating intra-site links?
  • Multiple content areas … at this level … ha!

The CMSs



  • Super simple template system
  • Decent, but not spectacular, News support
  • Page names are {root}/{pagename}.php
  • Security seems fair to good
  • Offers different templates for different pages out of the box


  • You need to remember to press the “Generate” button
  • Admin/editing UI is kinda goofy
  • Uses FCKEditor and it’s a core hack to get rid of it
    • I don’t know if sticking in another editor is easy
  • Menu system is sorta unintuitive (but allows hierarchical menus)
  • Uses non-GPL extensions (e.g., CAPTCHA) and getting rid of them is a core hack
  • Community seems not very responsive.
  • No way to delete files w/o FTP



  • Super lite to start with, super configurable
  • Excellent plugin (tweaker) setup
  • Good templating system (but not as easy as LNE)
  • Self-detecting SEO, otherwise are of the form {root}/index.php?page={pagename}
  • Security is fair to good, esp. after locking it down a little.
  • Friendly, active community


  • No hierarchical menus; pages are associated with several single-level menus
  • Supporting multiple templates is a real core hack
  • Admin UI is sometimes confusing
  • Unknown ‘News’ support
  • No way to delete files w/o FTP (but maybe possible w/tinymce-tinybrowser)



  • Decent community
  • Has plugin to suck stuff from Blogger
  • Has plugin for simplifying backup
  • TinyMCE + Tiny Browser available


  • Supporting multiple templates is a real core hack
  • Page names are goofy: {root}/?file=kop{N}.php where only {N} changes. Supposed to be better in next release.
  • No way to delete files w/o FTP?



  • Cool name
  • Community seems decent
  • Looks good out of the box
  • Nice menu config (hierarchical, but I think there’s only one menu)
  • Pages are of the form {root}/?about_us.html
  • Has ‘Articles’ and RSS … but getting ‘News’ onto home page will take some (non-core) coding.
  • TinyMCE plugin provides links to intrasite pages, but no way to browse for images
    • Can I hack this with tiny-image-manager?
  • Has out-of-the box file manager
  • Does multiple content areas!
  • Flexible ‘snippets’ can be used in layout


  • Uses SQLite3 (which is included in newer PHP distributions but may not be available or enabled in older ones)
  • Layouts are kept in the database (CSS is not)

Skyblue Canvas



  • Requires POSIX OS.