Simple Online CMS

posted on 08/13/08 at 08:00:00 pm by Joel Ross

Ever since I started this site, I've been trying to figure out a way to simply manage a few items and pages - such as my about page. I know I could have done a blog post that included my about information, and then just linked to that, but it seemed like a hack, and the URL wouldn't be as clean.

So I created a static page - well, relatively static. It's still a page using my blog's template, but the main content area is static content instead of code that pulls in blog posts. But even so, it's a pain to maintain. I have to edit locally and then upload the files. And it's all maintained in a virtual machine, so it's even more of a pain.

Ok. So it's not that bad. I'm just lazy.

But the other day, I saw a tweet from Cisco, a fellow RCMer, mentioning CushyCMS. You see, Cisco's a designer who is very good at what he does, and if he's saying something is good, that means it's well designed, has good usability, and doesn't take any technical knowledge whatsoever.

Yeah, yeah. That last one wasn't fair. But in this case, it's true. CushyCMS offers you online HTML editing of any page on your site. It's simple to set up and it works well. I have one page under its control now, and am thinking of adding others - or at least parts of others.

What it's actually doing is pretty simple - it uses FTP to push the file back to the server. But the ability to edit online from anywhere in a WYSIWYG fashion is killer. And I can segment my page anyway I want - just add a class="cushycms" to any element and it's editable. Below, I've added the class to an H3 (About, a div around some content, and then to another H2, and an H3 below that. They all show as editable areas:


In the past, I've hesitated to add a blog roll to the sidebar, because it's too difficult to maintain - or really any manually maintained areas there that I would want to change. But now, I could add some of those types of features and manage them easily, preventing them from getting out of date.

As I was writing this post, I was also tweeting my experience. Nathan Bryan responded that it's a problem when you keep files under source control. While this is true, I think some of it depends on how you use it. If you're adding CushyCMS directly to your code files, then yeah, that's a problem. But CushyCMS recommends against that anyway, instead recommending that you store the content you want to edit in a static file by itself. Then you just include that content in the dynamic page where you need it. To me, this isn't really that much different than storing your content in a database - something most CMS systems do - and then working out a backup process for those custom files.

CushyCMS probably isn't something to use for a large site, but for small, one-off solutions, it looks like a good, easy to integrate solution that solves a common need.

Categories: Software