Overview: CMS systems without databases

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Although the name FlatPress [7] is very close to WordPress, the only similarity is the design of the start page, which looks a bit like the first versions of WordPress (Figure 4). The CMS stores information in plain text files.

Figure 4: The standard layout of FlatPress is a bit like early WordPress. However, FlatPress is significantly more streamlined and thus makes more sense for smaller projects.

To install, as with GetSimple and Kirby, simply copy the FlatPress folder via FTP after downloading the current version (1.02 at the time of going to press). The setup script then asks for your username, password, and email address, and the CMS is ready for use.

FlatPress has a complete admin back end. Its nifty, logical structure facilitates adoption, along with some demo content and a series of plugins and widgets. FlatPress distinguishes between entries and static pages. The latter, as with WordPress, represent fixed pages. Entries appear on the blog pages and static pages link the CMS to menus. Menus themselves are static pages that automatically show up as entries in a special widget in the sidebar.

You create entries and pages in an editor that formats the text using bulletin board code (BBCode). The code is a simple markup language – much like HTML, but vastly reduced. In the upper part of the window (Figure 5) is the text in preview, with the actual editor underneath it. To synchronize the views, click the Preview button at the bottom edge of the window. This view makes it easier for beginners to effectively format text. Less practical is working with images. For these, you first need to use the Uploader to get them to the server, after which they show up in the drop-down menu of the editor. Unfortunately, the tool provides no way of setting orientation or size. An image always appears in its original size.

Figure 5: The extremely sleek FlatPress editor uses the BBCode markup language, which takes a bit of getting used to.

Like the other candidates, FlatPress provides a series of plugins [8] to enhance functionality. Users in the FlatPress forums [9] provide their own extensions. What's lacking, however, is an effective plugin search function.

Things look better with the themes that FlatPress uses to create pages. The project page presents these in a comprehensive directory [10]. The themes are surprisingly large in number and diversity. FlatPress allows putting up a webpage online quickly with minimal server requirements. The installation takes just a few moments, and the configuration is surprisingly comprehensive and self-explanatory. That said, FlatPress isn't a good choice for image-packed pages because of its cumbersome handling of image files.


With CMSimple [11], downloading the archive containing the code onto the server and calling up the URL is all you need in the way of installation and configuration. Somewhat hidden at the bottom of the page is the Login link you use to log in with the default test password, which you should subsequently change in Settings | CMS . Localization is done through the Language option in the drop-down menu by changing the setting. Clicking Save at the bottom accepts the settings.

In the back end, you'll find a simple file manager with which you can load images, plugins, and other files onto the server. You can easily access these with the editor. Managing the CMS is done through a separate menu under Settings (Figure 6), where you can set vital parameters without having to upload and download .ini files via FTP. That goes for templates and CSS files as well.

Figure 6: The simple back end of CMSimple provides an overview and even includes a small file manager.

With CMSimple, you edit pages and contents almost directly as they will be shown. You use the menu bar to enter Edit mode, in which case the currently opened page appears in the editor.

The CMS integrates the TinyMCE editor (Figure 7) that provides many functions for page creation without needing to know a line of HTML. That's a benefit to beginners or less frequent users. TinyMCE also provides easy dialogs for integrating photos and adding links. Formatting, text importing, and special characters are also a piece of cake.

Figure 7: CMSimple has an easily usable TinyMCE editor that lets you create content effectively. It opens by clicking the "Edit" entry in layout view.

CMSimple provides numerous themes [12] and plugins [13] for download – from the system's original author, as well as from third parties. Many are freely usable without limitations, although some, especially those for commercial use, come with a price tag. A glance at the fine print always helps.

CMSimple is suited for websites with a few pages and not necessarily to be used as a blog, even when an extension for blogging does exist. The logically designed user interface presents no problems even for occasional users, and the TinyMCE editor is very effective in making page maintenance easy.

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