Have something to say about razorCMS, we're all ears.


Postby youcantryreachingme » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:11 am

Ok, I've used some very simple CMS systems, right through to enterprise level. I'm no expert, but I've seen a few ways of doing things.

My feel for razor is that it meets my general desire for an easy-to-use system. These kinds of systems are really good for small businesses because managers of that sort of business know how to run their business and they don't care to learn tech-heavy software systems. Even popular CMSes like Joomla and Drupal are too cumbersome and complicated for these users.

For a fair amount of time I tried working with compactcms, which does some things really well, but it doesn't quite have the same level of robustness and support for user accounts as razor, as yet.

So, what I like about razor:

* no database. I don't know why, but this appeals to me. It makes it lean, it removes one thing that otherwise has the potential to "go wrong". It removes an installation/setup/configuration step. I expect it also makes an installation of razor highly portable - just copy all the files across to a new location and maybe make some minor config changes in the admin area. I have not tested this, and your content needs to use relative URLs throughout (links, images) - which is something you need to be aware of at the time of producing the content, well before you're even thinking of moving your site.

* it supports relative URLs for links, with ease. This means I don't need to include my domain name when I create a link to a page on my own site. This means I can move my site easily from a local development PC, to a hosted webserver, without breaking all my content. I haven't actually tested this yet, but what I've seen so far is better than some other systems I've seen.

* Easy to use interface. It would be really straightforward to teach this to a small business manager. Managing menus and subcategories is not intuitive, but this can be fixed through good communication (update the manual), and simple code fixes (rename some labels in the admin screen and/or add links to context help in the admin screen) - but even without the code changes, the way this works can be documented clearly and explained, perhaps with step by step examples, and most end-users should be able to manage their own menus.

* Single content items can appear in multiple menus. Not only so, but achieving this is simple - there is an admin form saying "add page X to category Y". Done.

* Extensions / modules / blade packs - the concept of their inclusion is really interesting actually. I like the way that after installing, a button/form appears where you are editing an article, that allows you to insert markup which will invoke that blade dynamically when that piece of content is being rendered. Really neat design.

* Significant site-search options. Site search should not be underestimated. It's nice that the functionality of the site search can be configured to a large degree.

* Multiple levels of user roles. This would make it easy to set up a site for a small business owner with very basic content editing functionality, and retain a super user account which you could use yourself in order to support that client if they need it.

* Easy to use image uploader. This is a really nice interface. It's clean, simple, easy to understand. There are a couple things I would change, however. One is that there is no clear instruction that if you want to insert an image, then after locating it, you have to double-click it. For some end-users this would not be obvious, but this can be worked around through training. Another is when you insert an image, you are given a tab to "upload" an image. (This is as opposed to using the "Browse Server" button). After uploading, the image browser appears but in a tiny panel about 50 pixels tall and its not usable. I found that rather than using the "upload" tab, just click "browse server" and upload from there. The "upload" tab could be deactivated or fixed.

* Backup tool. I know, this should be fairly standard for most small CMSes, but they don't all have it.

* Lightbox integration. People like nice interfaces. This gives you that for images.

* News module - nicely done, especially that you can have multiple categories and include them on numerous pages. This ability to slot a feature into multiple locations is really good (for example, menu links to the same article as described)

Here are some of the system's shortcomings, in my opinion:

* The contact form is really, really basic. The human-check blades are also quite archaic. I'd like to see this area improved. CompactCMS allows you to flag an article as "code", so that you can include php as part of the content. In this way you can create any kind of form you like.

* More blades - I wish there was more backing behind this product, with people producing blades. I don't know if there might be a financial model whereby you actually sell your software. I've purcahsed a classifieds system in the past - $40 for the base system, then +$10 to $50 or so for each additional module. Third party software vendors could submit modules for inclusion on the official website, and they would sell licenses via paypal. I ended up spending about $200 in the end for all the features I want. Perhaps a model like this would allow bladecms to attract more third-party module. (Maybe there's a whole stack out there I'm unaware of?)

* A pseudo shop blade (and I'd be tempted to write this - as I have done with compactcms). By this I basically mean an item iterator. That is, I should be able to define an item (eg, a product) as having a whole bunch of fields - for example, a textfield called "product name", a textfield called "price", a rich text area called "description", a dropdown list of values called "availability" with possible choices of "in stock", "on order", "out of stock". A checkbox field called "show Australian-made logo". The blade then gives you screens to list items (configurable - how many per row? How many per page, with pagination tools), and to view item details. Each of those is templated so the presentation of items is consistent for every item. In short, basic functionality to present your goods, but without a payment system. Why? Many small businesses are happy to operate this way and include paypal payment links, or even just the contact form and then send out a quote. Further, there could be additional extensions to add a shopping cart functionality to this "item iterator", and after that, a payment gateway. For small businesses, this would be ideal.

Features I haven't looked at yet:

* the code itself!

* creating themes - but given how many are available, I expect this will be straightforward.

So.. it looks good. I'm planning to migrate my website's content (currently phpwebsite 1.3 series) to razor. That's probably got about a hundred pages, not counting the news posts, which I won't port - but I will start a new news list on the razor version. So far razor looks like it will do nearly everything I want it to, with only some compromises. Of course, there are upshoots (which is the reason for migrating!) and the main one is the really easy to use, quick to use interface: it looks like it will let me get in there and update my content quickly and easily, and that's what I need. As straightforward as phpwebsite is (along lines of phpnuke), it's still cumbersome compared to razor.
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Re: Praise

Postby smiffy6969 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:32 pm


I must state, this project is a fork.... of uCMS which i created which is a fork........ of nanoCMS which ceased development but then got resurrected by the community, it had serious security issues, can't say if it does now.

Excuse the code, it is what I would call spaghetti code, hard to work with so don't spend too much time looking over it.

Due to this monolithic mass of procedural code I have chose to re write it, from scratch, my way and done correctly in object fashion.

I am probably about 50% there, and I will be supplying documentation on workings to help adapt it for others.

So for now, I would stick with blade packs and not worry too much about the code, it's dirty and takes some knowledge to get around it due to it's inherited mess.

I never ment for this to be available on mass so to speak, I forked it for y own reasons, some people wanted it so I gave it out, three years later it's still here, but to go further it needs the rewrite to make a stable platform to work on and extend in the future.

stick around, version 2.0 looks very promising and uses some interesting new ways of doing things, like the ability to put anything, anywhere on a page using a page builder. We simply create headers, footers, content, menus........ then go to a page builder and drag and drop them onto a preview type page.

This way you can have one header, 2 on a page, a different one for each page, 3 different content items on a page........ it's a true universal way of building websites in any way you want to, without being restricted to one header across the whole site, or one lot of page content per page (forget about infobar content, not needed now).......

It's a little hard to get the idea across so as soon as I have something people can play with, I can get feedback on whether the concept works for building websites or not.

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