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  1. #1
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    CMS recommendation?

    OK, here's the situation. I have built a few websites for friends and relations, and have hand-coded the html and css. Fine. These websites are relatively static so changes are infrequent and I've done them for the owner when needed. No problem.

    I now have a situation where the content on a new site will need to be updated more regularly and I don't want to have to do it myself - much easier and more practicable if the owner did it. However I don't want the owner to be able to mess up the site layout etc - so am thinking of using a CMS, something like Joomla maybe.

    The website won't be very large, doesn't need anything like e-commerce. The easier the CMS is to use to amend and publish content, the better.
    I'd like whatever it is to produce valid code....

    So here's the questions:

    1. Is Joomla a good choice? What other candidates are there?
    2. If I go down the Joomla route or similar, are there any limitations imposed by the CMS on site design? Specifically, is it restricted to using a pre-existing template?
    3. I'm assuming that building a website in Joomla is completely different to hand-coding in html?
    4. Any other different approaches to addressing the problem?

    Apologies if these are very obvious questions, despite looking at numerous webpages I'm struggling to fom a coherent opionion on this one...

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Senior Coder tomws's Avatar
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    #1:
    I pimp Drupal wherever possible. Powerful, tons of contributed modules and themes available, but could be overkill. The freely available themes aren't as stylish overall as those I've seen for Joomla, in my opinion. I'm rolling out a couple of these each month for our community development organization.

    I've not used Joomla yet, but I know it works in a similar way as Drupal. It's slightly more limited that Drupal, from my understanding, in that it doesn't have as large a repository of add-on modules and some of those available aren't as powerful as Drupal's. That being said, it's still tremendously capable (take a look at some of their corporate users) and is geared more towards end-users whereas Drupal is more developer-friendly.

    Depending upon your content, you may also consider Wordpress. It's also well-proven, but tends to be more centered on blog-type applications.

    There are a myriad of CMS options besides these, but these are at the top of the heap (for free and LAMP/WAMP stack, anyway).

    #2:
    Regarding templates, I'll tell you how it works in Drupal since that's what I know. Joomla/Wordpress is probably the same. Drupal allows you to use a pre-existing theme, which is great for getting a site up quick. But it also allows custom theming - which covers 1)customizing a pre-existing theme, 2)building a theme on top of a specially designed starter theme (I love these), 3)building your own truly custom theme.

    #3:
    I'd say yes: building a website in a CMS is different than hand-coding. This may net be directly applicable to your situation, but compare your usual site-building process to what I do for our low-cost website program.

    1. Client selects package and theme.
    2. Copy the base package code to the client's directory.
    3. Copy the base db to the client's db.
    4. Set theme through the admin panel.
    5. Enable/disable modules through the admin panel as needed.
    6. Toss in sample content through editor interface.
    7. Train client's site editor(s).
    8. Go live.


    Theoretically, I never need to touch HTML and very little PHP. In actuality, though, I need to tweak the theme (html) or play around with a module (php) or build a custom block occasionally (combo).

    #4:
    I would encourage you to use a CMS for this application. You could write your own, but that's really just re-inventing the wheel. You could even work Smarty into your old build process, but then that's extra work. Do yourself a favor and use a CMS - Joomla or Drupal. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be glad.
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    SB65 (06-03-2009)

  • #3
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    Thanks tomws.

  • #4
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    I strongly endorse CMS made simple. Free, open source, Smarty based, 100% customizable, tons of modules (extensions), active community, and most importantly: it’s simple.

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    SB65 (06-03-2009)

  • #5
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    Thanks VIPStephan, that looks to be a nice straightforward solution.

  • #6
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    I personally recommend the following for the following:

    Wordpress: for small websites which are primarily for blogging or getting the company a place online, also blogs are easy to get high on Google.

    Joomla: I personally use this at work a lot, we heavily customise it (as you would with any CMS) but it is insanely easy to make templates. Biggest let down is SEO isn't great without a core patch (although it is being worked on for the next release) - Additionally as mentioned with Drupal, I can help a lot with Joomla! as I have made custom templates (MANY times) and also modules, plugins, components.

    Drupal, I have personally found only useful when your going to be dealing with masses of content without much custom functionality (I could be out of the loop)

    OSCommerce: Perfect if you are just running a shop with a bit of content, Joomla! actually has a GSOC project to incorporate this with Joomla to replace Joomla's existing e-commerce suite Virtuemart.

    Joomla: http://extensions.joomla.org
    wordpres: http://codex.wordpress.org

    Don't know the area for extensibility plugins etc for Drupal and oscommerce.

    Sorry to bad mouth CMS Made Simple but its caused us no end of hassle at work with extensibility having to make core hacks in some cases to get basic functionality I would expect standard with most opensource CMS'

    (All of the above is opensource btw, however as with all of them there are non-free plugins which are around, but normally inexpensive.)

    EDIT: Yay! 100 posts 2 stars!
    Last edited by udjamaflip; 06-03-2009 at 05:03 PM.
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  • #7
    Senior Coder Rowsdower!'s Avatar
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    Just a quick hit-and-run post here, but osCommerce extensions can be found here:
    http://addons.oscommerce.com/

    Drupal extensions are here:
    http://drupal.org/project/Modules

    I haven't used either of these but as a spectator to this thread (I am in a similar position to that of SB65) I figured I would check these out along with the rest...
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    It's usually a good idea to start out with this at the VERY TOP of your CSS: * {border:0;margin:0;padding:0;}
    Seek and you shall find... basically:
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  • #8
    Senior Coder tomws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by udjamaflip View Post
    Drupal, I have personally found only useful when your going to be dealing with masses of content without much custom functionality (I could be out of the loop)
    If you tried it before version 6, check it out again. It's vastly better than my trials back at versions 4.7 and 5.x.

    Adding on the Views and CCK modules also provides amazing (to me, anyway) custom content handling.


    By the way, I mentioned that the available Drupal themes weren't as good as Joomla. Well, they're still not, but I discovered yesterday that they've definitely stepped up in quality over the last few months as version 6 has matured. I replaced most of my original two dozen options with newer designs that suck less.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rowsdower! View Post
    Drupal extensions are here:
    http://drupal.org/project/Modules
    For those keeping score, the list for D6 is over 2000 items and includes the ever-popular and useful modules such as Vietnamese Typing, Buy Me a Beer, and Connect IV Game. Where else can you get those?
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  • #9
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    Thanks for all the helpful posts so far, here's another silly question....

    I am currently in the habit of building all pages/sites and testing them locally on my PC before uploading to the server. If I employ a CMS using MySQL, can I still do this?

    I'm assuming I could do this by loading up a local copy of MySQL using XAMPP or whatever, but wanted to check this understanding? If I do take this approach does this introduce an additional complication on publishing the completed site/page?

    Apologies once more if this is a daft question, but I have tried and failed to find an answer to this.....

  • #10
    Supreme Master coder! abduraooft's Avatar
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    If I employ a CMS using MySQL, can I still do this?
    Why not? All standard CMS packages comes with an easy installation script(and manual).

    I'm assuming I could do this by loading up a local copy of MySQL using XAMPP or whatever, but wanted to check this understanding? If I do take this approach does this introduce an additional complication on publishing the completed site/page?
    You may upload all the extracted files from your local machine once (before installation in your local machine), or you may extract the archive at your server too and install there. There will be a series of forms, through which you may enter your mysql host, username, passowrd, admin account details etc. After that, you'd need to upload the files which are customized by you for your needs in your local machine, like some CSS files, some images etc.

    Just opt one CMS and proceed by reading the readme file it it
    The Dream is not what you see in sleep; Dream is the thing which doesn't let you sleep. --(Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam)

  • #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SB65 View Post
    I'm assuming I could do this by loading up a local copy of MySQL using XAMPP or whatever, but wanted to check this understanding? If I do take this approach does this introduce an additional complication on publishing the completed site/page?

    Apologies once more if this is a daft question, but I have tried and failed to find an answer to this.....
    Diffrent CMS' have different things you need to change when moving servers, providing you're fairly fluent with phpmyadmin and basic PHP it will be easy for you.

    If you upload a dump of SQL for Joomla, then upload your entire website from your local dev environment, all you will need to do is amend configuration.php and it will just...work!

    Similiary with Wordpress, if you upload an SQL dump, and the website files. You need to change wp-config.php AND wp_settings table there are 4 values you need to change in there which control the permalinks.

    I don't know how to port Drupal or OSCommerce but I don't imagine it would be too disimiliar
    Andrew Sharman
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