September 2006


This is a series of post starting here, in which I look at different CMS installations and despair.

At the end there’s only two left to consider, Magnolia and Joomla! And I’ll go for Magnolia first. Simply because I will need to tinker a fair bit with the system, and  Magnolia seems a lot more friendly to a Java developer than Joomla! Don’t get me wrong, I can program in PHP as well, but I’d rather not, and the  Joomla! template PHP is rather cluttered.

As for extensions? This may be a problem for other sites, but I don’t think it will be for this particular setup. Even if so, I can install some WebService stacks parallel to the Magnolia apps and use JSTL and ordinary JSP to serve the content in the templates.

Multilingual content? Joomla! has it, but all too contrived. Doing separate directory structures for separate languages may not be optimal for everyone, but it’ll work for this installation. And I can already see myself doing some templating tricks for the rest.

Joomla! is a runner up, and if the client is not happy with the Magnolia editing functions I’ll have them try Joomla! instead. In either case I think I’ll be happy to work with any of the two systems.

This is a series of post starting here, in which I look at different CMS installations and despair.

Magnolia came in late in my research but I immediately started thinking that I perhaps had found something good. As several other systems it comes with one “community” version and one “enterprise” version, but I don’t mind as long as the feature set isn’t too crippled on the community install.

The Good

  • Easy installation. Two WAR files dropped in and that’s it. Very good. Apparently comes with Apache Derby bundled so you don’t even have to configure a database. Although, more on this later…
  • Stage environment. Two separate installations, one for editing and one public. Very good indeed, although there’s a down side as well.
  • Uncluttered and very good AJAX gui.
  • Easy to editor pages. And easy to understand and change the site structure.

The Semi-Good

  • Multilingual content. It is not supported, but it is officially not supported with an “no, but of course you can do it, and easily” answer.  Meaning most sites will end up with  separate directories for each language, and when you really need one page/many languages, you can actually do it. 
  • No themes. But officially no themes. But very simple templates. This is counted on good in my book as I’ll end up designing the site anyway, starting from scratch with a clean and simple templating system is just as good as a full-fledged, community supported, themeing engine for my purpose.

The Semi-Bad

  • Bundled database. Good for installation but you should really document very clearly how to reconfigure it to use an external database, I can do with Derby but would prefer MySQL.
  • Stage environment. Although the idea is very good it means that you most probably will end up having two parallel applications running, thus cluttering up the site URL’s. This can be solved of course but it takes some tinkering. I was thinking of installing the stage installation on a separate domain instead, so you’d get, for example, “www.mysite.com” and “edit.mysite.com”. I shall have to think about that.

The Bad

  • Somewhat small community. Or I haven’t really found them yet.
  • No 3rd party modules? Is that because of the point above? Or have I missed something?

Conclusion
Very good package. And probably a winner. I really like the cleanliness. And the the easy page administration (saves a lot of support time). I like the templating. On the downside, I’ll be looking for 3rd party modules if I need them and may be forced to write my own, but I would need to do so in any case for any system to a certain extent, so that is only a minor scratch on the whole. Multilingual content? Well, considering the competition Magnolia comes out smelling of roses, I’d much rather take an honest “no, but it easy to do”, than a “yes, but it is rather complicated”.

This is a series of post starting here, in which I look at different CMS installations and despair.

AtLeap is a relatively new CMS from Blandware. Despite it seeming a bit immature, I was intrigued enough to install it simple because 1) it was easy; and 2) it screams “multilingual” at you at it’s front page.

The Good

  • Easy installation for anyone familiar with Java / Ant. For anyone else I image it’d be a pain.
  • Completely server / database agnostic. Impressive!
  • Multilinual content out of the box. Why doesn’t everyone have this?

The Bad

  • Cluttered admin GUI. One big menu with both admin items and real site items? No thank you.

Conclusion
I admit not spending too much time on AtLeap. It is obviously somewhat immature. I imagine it would be a very good base for larger projects with a lot of custom development, you get the goods right at you door and don’t mind writing your own themes and extensions. As it is, I probably won’t have time for it.

This is a series of post starting here, in which I look at different CMS installations and despair.

Many hours were spent looking at systems which for various reasons didn’t even make it to any local installation or if they did, were immediately dumped. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Alfresco. For the life of me I couldn’t find any information on how to change the default MySQL user/password for a WAR file installation. “alfresco” / “alfresco”? No thank you, that’s not an option it’s an insult. Too bad, otherwise it looked ok, and the Spring, Hibernate, Lucene, MyFaces, JSR 168, JSR 170 list together with built in WebService support had been very nice indeed for a Java buff such as myself.
  • Drupal. Multilingual content?
  • OpenCMS. No non-root WAR file installation AFAICS.
  • Liferay. Same as above. Which is a shame, I think I would have liked it. Struts, Hibernate, Spring etc. Plus tones themes and a lot of extensions. Pity, if I get to run on a dedicated server I may try it out.
  • Jahaia. Seems ok, but does not support multilingual content in the community edition. Too bad.
  • Apache Lenya. A bit too immature, but interesting. Too bad my experiences with the Coocon framework aren’t the best. Never the less, I may install and try this one later on.

And on we go…

This is a series of post starting here, in which I look at different CMS installations and despair.

Joomla! is the offshoot of Mambo. I’ve heard a lot of good from both. So I actually started looking at, and installing, Mambo.  But after surfing round for an hour or so, looking for documentation on multilingual content (mambelfish? god preserve me) and installing Mambo and playing around a bit, I found this: Joom!Fish. This is the Joomla version of the Mambelfish and lo! They distribute a package with Joomla pre-bundled with Joom!Fish. That was enough to tip me over the edge and install Joomla instead.

The Good

  • Very good installation routine. Easy does it. Should be installable anywhere.
  • Tons of extension and themes.
  • Integrated search engine: we like!

The Semi-Good

  • An attractive admin interface, but… Oh, so cluttered. They’ve done their best to clean it up but the navigation isn’t 100% and now and then leaves you waiving your hand for help, not knowing where to go for a particular task.
  • Multilingual content. The upside of it is that… it is there and works. And you can translate anything in the entire system. But the process stinks and the inline editing is confusing. When you create a page, you create a “default” page which you can then translate to different languages and this is the page he inline editing works on. You would have thought that, had you selected Swedish, and been looking at the Swedish translation of the pages, the inline editing would have edited… The swedish page! But no, it doesn’t. So inline editing is off. It also makes me wonder, what is this “default” language they seem o think I’m using? Esperanto?
  • User group system. Not very well documented nor very flexible.

The Bad

  • Cluttered PHP and cluttered GUI makes for confusion. Took me hours to understand and set up a small test site in two languages.
  • Translation doesn’t always mean that the different languages will have the same page/site layout. For example, the festival I will implement the system for usually have extra pages for foreign visitors about ticket ordering, traveling etc. This seems only semi-supported (read: undocumented and bad).
  • Editing multilingual pages is just to hard.  The pages themselves are ok but the rest! Menu items and what not. I can see support issues coming my why should we go with this.

Conclusion
The installation, the extensions and the themes saves Joomla!. It is not a bad package, and for a single language site I would probably use it. As it is, it is still not out of the running, I’ll keep it installed if nothing else and better comes along.

BĂ„stad Chamber Music Festival wants a new web site. And who can blame them? But naturally it should be a CMS of some sort. Thus the task for the weekend was: Find a decent CMS to use. This turned out to be cumbersome and boring.

These were my requirements when I started:

  • Ease of use. The editors of the site should not have to be more than normal computer users to edit the site. Without any education. A WYSIWYG editor is implicit here folks.
  • Simple to administer. I don’t need a lot o features, I need something which is simple and flexible and clean.
  • Multilingual content. It must support multiple content languages, and still be easy to use.
  • It must be possible to install on any decent web host without root access as I don’t know  as yet how the hosting will be provided. With decent I mean: MySQL and possibly Java on a reliable web host.

I would also like, but do not require:

  • Java. As I’m no fan of PHP (aving worked to little with it) I’d prefer Java.
  • A lot of extensions and themes. Although I don’t particularly need the extensions for this client and will probably end up doing a new theme, the choices would be nice to have.

I absolutely don’t want:

  • Cluttered PHP.
  • Cluttered installations or cluttered admin interfaces A cluttered interface, be it disc or gui or api points to a cluttered mind.

Check the next post for our first contendant, Joomla!

It was bound to happend:

Yes, we now have confirmation of Steve Irwin’s decision for Christ.

I want to inform Creation Ministries International, that Steve Irwin became a born again Christian two and a half weeks ago at the Kings Church AOG Buderim, Queensland Australia, going forward publicly before the congregation to ask Christ to become his Lord and Saviour.

Many of us will now spend eternity with him. I am sure Terri is comforted as a Christian in the fact that she will be with Jesus and also Steve again for eternity. Steve declared the day before he died that he was the happiest he had ever been in his whole life.

Note that this story is still “undetermined” by Snopes but… Even linked in christian sources encourages people to not fall for it. My bet is that this is a false rumour, anyone against?

But even if it is true it makes sad reading. Someone is using the death of another human being, a human being with family and friends who loved him, to advance christianity. It is a sad and ugly thing to do. Especially as this doesn’t seem clear cut, there may be many who take comfort in such an email, and should it turn out to be false… Let’s just say I despise poeple sending such emails quite a bit. The originator may well have sent it in good faith but even so; it’ll just be another example of the rotten moralty of christianity.

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