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Okay, so my 'main' Web site has been on the Interweb for more than twelve years now, which is, like, 614 years in Internet time. It's hundreds (literally, hundreds) of static HTML pages, each with a hand-coded navigation system. That means it's clunky, inconsistent, and a big honkin' pain in the fucking ass to update. It is time to reign in the madness.

I'm considering, God help me, moving the whole mess to a content management system. I'd kind of prefer one that doesn't suck, but rain_herself says there's no such thing as a CMS that doesn't suck--the only thing you get any say over is how bad it sucks and in what way it sucks.

Here's what I'd like:

- Security. I don't want to have to install security patches every three days and I don't want to get pwned if I don't.

- Flexibility. I don't want to port every page over to the CMS, but I do want to port big sections over. I want hard-coded, static HTML pages to be able to live happily side by side with CMS-managed pages, and the navigation to work consistently across all of them.

- Template flexibility. I do not want the entire site to have the same template; I do not want the whole thing to get poured into the same HTML containers. I want, for example, all the BDSM pages to have a consistent look, all the polyamory pages to have a consistent look, but I want to make the BDSM pages look different from the poly pages.

- Ease of updating. WordPress sets the bar here. When I log on to WordPress, if there's an update, there's one button that installs the update automatically--downloads the files, unpacks them, installs them, updates the back-end database, all with a single click and all without disturbing any settings or customizations. If WordPress can do it, I figure other people should be able to do it too.

- The ability to incorporate JavaScript (even if it's built against a library like Jquery or Mootools) into pages as I please.

- Compatibility with analytics tools.

- The ability to specify an exact URL on managed pages. This is very important. Right now, for example, my BDSM page at http://www.xeromag.com/fvbdsm.html has awesome Google rank and literally thousands of inbound links. I do not want this URL changing to something like http://www.xeromag.com/cms/scripts/showpage.php?sectionid=4&pageid=23 and I do not want to create redirectors from existing URLs to point to the new, managed page URLs. The ability to do this is non-negotiable and is an absolute dealbreaker for any CMS that can't manage it.

- An optional comment system that can be turned on or off on a per-page basis.

- Free and open source.




So, lazyweb, whaddya think? Am I living in a Utopian fantasy dreamland where naked mermaids cavort with dolphins under a cotton candy sky, or is this actually going to be doable? Is there a CMS out there somewhere that will do what I want?

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Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
winterlady
Oct. 5th, 2009 11:19 am (UTC)
Check out e107 - I use it for our guild content management.

It can be as secure or as open as you want. I don't know about the java code because I don't use it, but I *DO* know, that you can create pages that you can have links to...

http://tsga.sytes.net/news.php that's an old guild site - but you can look at it. It's as modular (or not) as you want. (I happen to like the squares... :))

The CMS and all of the mods are free - and it has a whole set of tools on the back end. I'd also say about 80% of the templates (designs) are free, too.
lance_lake
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
e107 won't work with custom Javascript as far as I know. Also, It has URL variables when loading up pages (which he said was not allowed).
okayokayigive
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
Wordpress will do everything you need - static page integration, different templates for different sections (you can have a BDSM template, a poly template, etc), you can specify your own URLs for select pages, jQuery is native but you can add pretty much anything else JavaScript-wise, and comments can be turned on and off on a per-page or per-post basis.
lance_lake
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:28 pm (UTC)
Wordpress may be the best he can choose if he wants to remain in the public domain. But IMHO, I think wordpress has gotten big enough that some hacker is going to take it down like they did with phpBB back awhile ago. I've also never seen a wordpress blog that didn't look "Wordpressie".

But that's just my personal feeling and in no way grounded in Logic. Yeah, I would say that MOST of the things you listed is going to be in Wordpress.
okayokayigive
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
I can't say I disagree with you on the hacking front, unfortunately, although they seem to be pretty good about getting timely patches out.

As far as WP sites that don't look like WP, that's totally dependent on whoever you've got designing it. If you can make something happen in XHTML/CSS, you can make it happen in WP. (It may require some custom development, but that's neither here nor there.)

For example...
http://ugsmag.com/
http://www.colazionedamichy.it/
http://oddwebthings.com/
http://nobiliserotica.com/

(In the interest of disclosure, I built that last one. ;) )

A lot of people think that WP sites have a certain look about them, but only because most highly custom WP sites don't advertise that they use WP. :)
alexmc
Oct. 5th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
> A lot of people think that WP sites have a certain look about them, but only because most highly custom WP sites don't advertise that they use WP. :)

That is going to be true for most CMS :-)
lance_lake
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
Speaking as a web developer who started back in the 90's, you aren't going to find something fitting all your expectations you listed here. Not without some serious cash (Think around 2-3 thousand).

What are you willing to get rid of?

alexmc
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC)
Personally I use Drupal but I wonder if you would prefer some kind of hosted CMS which gets updated for you... That way you could let someone else worry about security updates.

www.drupal.org


> the only thing you get any say over is how bad it sucks and in what way it sucks.

Wise words.

> - Security. I don't want to have to install security patches every three days and I don't want to get pwned if I don't.


If you stick to the most basic modules Drupal has a pretty good record. Sure there are security warnings but mostly they are on some of the hundreds of third party modules. If you don't use those modules you don't have to update them. There are folks who say php is fundamentally unsafe.

I am not sure how you can make it secure, and not worry about security...It is hard work.



> - Flexibility

I don't see any problems with leaving some pages as the existing html files. You can add the existing menu structure into the CMS menu - but if you want to ammend your old html files - that is your problem :-)

When comparing Drupal and Joomla (its main php competitor) the advantages of Drupal are its flexibility compared to Joomla, but Joomla sites often look better :-(

> - Template flexibilit

Quite easy to have different templates for different sections of the website.

> - Ease of updating.

Not sure it matches wordpress for ease of use, but yes, it does have a "press button to update module" admin facility


> - The ability to incorporate JavaScript

Not sure what you want here. I can't see why it would be a problem. Basically by default users can't add javascript into a page because it is a security risk, but you could set up special users or special page types which allow it.

> - Compatibility with analytics tools.

To be honest, I'm not sure. I don't see why not.

> - The ability to specify an exact URL on managed pages.

Yep - but this is mostly done through Apache mod_rewrite and .htaccess files. Your hosting provider may not allow that.

> - An optional comment system

I think that is available in the core - but Drupal isn't a full blown BBS or forum.

skittenwench
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
see now *this* statement id precisdely why I'm not an uber geek ;) "there's no such thing as a CMS that doesn't suck--the only thing you get any say over is how bad it sucks and in what way it sucks."
I didn't get through even the most basic progrsamming class because I was bored silly & just didn't have the patience for it... (turbo pascal...- I took basic in high school ;))
alexmc
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
When I first came across CMS systems (for a major national newspaper) they cost over a million pounds and the developers cost a million pounds too.

Nowadays the software is cheaper - but you still need to spend a lot on the developers to make it do what you want. Unless you have very simple needs you do need to treat a CMS as a major IT project.
skittenwench
Oct. 5th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
oiy! *lol*
You uber geeks can enjoy your premade imperfections *lol*
I'd get grouchy about it I suspect
annafdd
Oct. 5th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
My Drupal site is compatible with Google analytics, and since I am hosting it with a provider that specifializes in Drupal compatibility, URL management has been a breeze.

Comments can indeed be handled.
alexmc
Oct. 5th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
I didn't read this fully.


http://www.xeromag.com/cms/scripts/showpage.php?sectionid=4&pageid=23 and I do not want to create redirectors from existing URLs to point to the new, managed page URLs.


I think this is done through the path redirect module http://drupal.org/project/path_redirect
jtroutman
Oct. 5th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
I don't have much to offer, except that what you want is actually possible possible these days.

The last time I worked on a CMS it was 7 years ago for a client, and we did about $50k in work for something completely custom, because there was practically nothing free out there. And it still sucked a lot.

We ended up with a set of re-write rules for apache to present the correct content when certain URLs were called.

let us know what you find.
fuzzybutchkins
Oct. 5th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
Full disclosure: I'm a wordpress geek, and I'm partnered for business and pleasure with flannelbutch up there.

There are two directions you could go, here. I think wordpress will get you started the fastest without tears, but drupal will give you the highest degree of control over what you want your site to do.

Since Drupal is NOT a CMS, it is a dev platform that is predisposed to building CMSs, you'll have to sit down and learn how to build the website you want before you can build the website you want. I personally find Drupal to be a pain in the neck to work with.

And regarding "wordpressy" wordpress-looking sites -- Yeah, lots do. That's because so many people choose free themes and don't customize them. I personally think it's much easier to make a wordpress site look unwordpressy than to make a Drupal site look undrupular. I am still prejudiced.

If you want to try Drupal, also consider Joomla. It's a little more enterprise-y, but your site is big enough that it wouldn't be overkill to try joomla. Expect to pay a little bit for plugins and modules with Joomla.

Wordpress isn't a CMS either, it's a blog that can behave as a CMS. Where the other platforms are places where you build up functionality, with wordpress you're modifying a pre-configured set of features, picking and choosing which ones you need.

Shrug. If you're going to do this all yourself, good freaking luck.
annafdd
Oct. 5th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
True, Drupal is a pain in the ass. Which is not necessarily such a bad thing, I should note.

But I am not a programmer, I haven't written a line of code in my life, I am a mac user and therefore not all that used to steep learning curves as far as software is concerned, and I learned how to use Drupal to create and manage my own site in a few weekends.

Drupal is robust, open-source, has loads of ways of doing things, and beats Wordpress on anything that isn't a blog. Wordpress is better for blogs, though.
fuzzybutchkins
Oct. 5th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
Tastes great, less filling. You're a Mac, I'm a PC. Starbellied sneeches and all that.

Having said that, have you ever tried to make wordpress be anything other than a blog? Because folks constantly wander up to me telling me that wordpress is only good at being a blog, and yet they've never really tried to make it, say, a database. or a homepage, or an archive, or a magazine.
annafdd
Oct. 5th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC)
Only superficially. I mean, I have played around with creating static pages for my Wordpress blog, but I have to say that I didn't spend a lot of time on it.

I think the main difference for me is that WP already is a CMS, and a very good one; Drupal allows you to create your own, which is a lot more complicated but offers more flexibility. Coming at WP from Drupal, I was trying to make it do things that I have implemented in my own Drupal system, and of course I was frustrated. I wasn't trying to work with the strengths of WP.

I think one of the things I like about Drupal is that it becomes a very absorbing hobby on its own. WOW! Look at this module! I wonder if I can make it work? let's install it! Oh no, it breaks my installation...

...and twelve hours later, you haven't got a better site, but you have felt much warm fuzzy gratification in having kicked the bastard in its place.
chipotle
Oct. 5th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
Personally, I'd suggest you ask one of the naked mermaids if they and the dolphins can help you install and learn Django or Rails, or possibly CakePHP or Symfony. They are web frameworks, not CMSes, and do not hide the fact that they require programming to get anywhere -- in the long run I'd suggest that's probably a bonus, though, because you will not run into a situation where the CMS can't do what you want. My personal favorite is Django, in part because it was clearly written with the idea of putting together CMSes in mind, but it's not nearly as easy to deploy as your typical PHP-based CMS or blog.

If that sounds too exasperating, WordPress has a good chunk of the capability you're talking about, although ExpressionEngine might be more flexible. (I know there are EE sites out there which have different templates for different sections and sometimes even different posts -- i.e., I don't think http://jasonsantamaria.com/ could have been done in WordPress.) I'd also seriously look at a dark horse in the "light CMS" race called TextPattern, which I've actually used in the past and liked. I don't know that any of these will internally do the URL routing that you want, but it's possible to use Apache mod_rewrite rules to accomplish that if you're willing to spend an afternoon pulling your hair out with regexps.

Of course, the other downside of PHP-based CMSes and blogs is that as a language PHP is optimized for writing shitty code. That doesn't mean all PHP is shit, but a disproportionate amount of it is, and this has security implications. All of the PHP-based systems I've seen fall prey to this to varying degrees, but WordPress gets special love in this regard, as it's so common it's an excellent target for hackers. Nobody bothers to write exploits for TextPattern.
fuzzybutchkins
Oct. 5th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)
(I know there are EE sites out there which have different templates for different sections and sometimes even different posts -- i.e., I don't think http://jasonsantamaria.com/ could have been done in WordPress.)

Sure it can! Gimme 4 grand and I can show you ;-)
onmyownterms
Oct. 5th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
Jumping on the WordPress bandwagon...
From a CMS perspective, at work I'm a Sharepoint guru, but even from an Administrator role, most of the Sharepoint stuff requires some serious 'geek code' to get certain aspects up and running.

That being said, I use Wordpress for my website. I'm learning it from the ground up, and am VERY impressed with how it handles and how easy it is to make it jump through the hoops I want it to jump through (though sometimes I have to fight with my webhost to get me to modify some of the files I want to modify).

But as others have said, it depends on how much cash you're willing to spend. WordPress is an elegant, FREE, solution. If you've got the cash, then there are probably better candidates out there.
icedrake
Oct. 5th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
Surprised no one's mentioned MODx. It's a beauty.
visudo
Oct. 6th, 2009 05:17 am (UTC)
You're never going to find something that fits all of the criteria you listed there. Well, let me rephrase that--you're never going to find something, but it can be built. Not for less than at least a few grand, though, I imagine.
mantic_angel
Oct. 15th, 2009 06:40 am (UTC)
If you find something that does fit your needs, let the rest of us know? :)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )