[Techtalk] web content management recommendations

Kathryn Andersen kat_lists at katspace.com
Sat Apr 9 07:50:46 EST 2005

On Fri, Apr 08, 2005 at 04:04:16PM +0100, Dan wrote:
> Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I didn't realize there were so 
> many CMF/CMS out there!
> I'm not actually looking for anything complicated: just something that 
> avoids having to copy-and-paste slabs of HTML every time we make a 
> change to the site layout. Of course, as soon as you start separating 
> the stuff that changes from the boilerplate stuff, you'll want to be 
> able to preview the page before uploading it, and then it just snowballs 
> from there. It's a shame that there isn't a less processor-intensive 
> solution, but I guess you really have to have a full-featured system if 
> you want a non-programmer to be able to update the content easily.

However... it *might* be that you don't need one of the more top-heavy
systems after all...

Here's an alternative proposal:

a) run a "test" server where people do the actual editing and previewing
of their changes.  This could be a virtual server with a different port
number (not too hard, I did it myself with Apache on my PC).
This is probably a good idea anyway, because it's always a good idea to
see how the whole site works first, before committing it to

b) use some system to copy the "test" changes over to the "production"
directory/machine. This could be any number of things:
rsync + make
rsync + cron
cvs (or some other revision control system) -- have the site under
revision control (a good idea anyway) and the "production" version
could be just a cvs "exported" directory.

Note: this would require a CMS which takes its data from files, rather
than a CMS which takes its data from a database.
It would also require some way around hard-coded directory paths for
said CMS, either by (a) the data being separate from the config
or (b) a way of setting paths by checking the DOCUMENT_ROOT environment
variable (which would be different for the "test" and the "production"

c) use a simpler CMS, maybe even just a templating system, which would
allow you to separate the HTML content from the site layout.
Some examples would be Mason, WebMake, or Posy (which I admit I
wrote and use myself (http://www.katspace.com/tools/posy/))

For a long list of open-source CMSs: http://www.la-grange.net/cms

Kathryn Andersen
"Commander, we have a situation here. Where the hell have you been?"
'Trying to solve it!'
	-- Capt. Pierce and Cdr. Sinclair,
		"A Voice in the Wilderness II" (Babylon 5)
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