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CMS Made Simple 1.6

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 46

cnymike writes "CMS Made Simple 1.6: Beginner's Guide by Sofia Hauschildt, recently published by Packt Publishing, is intended for new users of the open source content management application, CMS Made Simple (CMSMS). True to its title, the book delivers in all respects and provides a solid foundation from which to grow as you explore the rich possibilities of building sites with CMS Made Simple. The author, Sofia Hauschildt, is a consultant, programmer, and tutor and has a gift for communicating in a straightforward, readable manner. The technical level of writing never exceeds that which could be easily understood by a neophyte. The book does assume that the reader has some knowledge of HTML and CSS." Read on for the rest of cnymike's review.I was first introduced to CMS Made Simple five years ago. I had a need to begin the development of a CMS-based website, and over the years I have explored many products, including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Website Baker, e107, and a slew of other open source applications. After trying many, I settled on CMS Made Simple to build many of the sites because of its ease of installation and operation.

The available documentation for CMSMS has been sparse however. The CMSMS web site has a wiki and user forum, but the wiki is not always up-to-date or complete. The user forum is an option for getting technical problems or other questions answered, but it is not the best place to ask questions if you are truly a neophyte. There is an expectation that you have a certain fundamental understanding of how CMSs work. The developers have clearly stated that CMS Made Simple is geared to web developers and not so much to neophytes who need a lot of hand-holding and who need relatively basic questions answered.

This book is the much-needed introduction to CMSMS. The approach taken by the author is exactly the approach needed if you were explaining how to use something to someone who has absolutely no knowledge of it. The learning takes place via the construction of a "case study" web site. You are taught how to install CMSMS and then how to plan your site, beginning with the creation of pages and navigation. The author even takes the time to explain how to customize TinyMCE (the WYSIWYG editor) to the level you need.

The methodology used in this book is straightforward and effective. As each topic is introduced, you are told what you will accomplish. Next, the instructions for accomplishing the task are given with ample use of screenshots when needed. As you work through the task, you are given additional tips and suggestions that help you fully appreciate what you are doing. Once the task has been completed, you are then given a summary of what just happened. Pop quizzes appear throughout the book to test your knowledge of what you were just taught. This type of repetition is one of the reasons the book is so effective. It super-charges the learning process. You learn by doing.

The author goes into surprising detail on many topics that give you a depth of understanding that you otherwise would not get by just trying to learn by yourself. For instance, in Chapter 4 — Design and Layout, the author discusses in a very concise manner how the Smarty template engine works. Various examples of how to harness the power of Smarty are given and before you know it, you've learned a great deal about Smarty that will greatly assist you in ultimately designing your own templates or modifying templates from other sources. Furthermore, an excellent section devoted on how to adapt templates from other platforms to CMSMS gives you the skills needed to accomplish that task. Having this knowledge opens the door to being able to adapt the huge number of templates , both paid and free, to your use on a CMSMS installation.

Core Modules are the essential modules that come with the CMSMS package. You learn about how these modules function and how to modify them in ways that let you adapt them to your specific needs. The author also discusses a number of third-party modules that give you additional features such as a photo Gallery or Newsletter.

Later in the book, more advanced topics are introduced. Some of the topics include how to make multi-lingual websites, how to translate core and third-party modules into a different language and how to create additional page layout capabilities by using extra page attributes.

Leaving no stone unturned, the book also discusses SEO practices, canonical URL's, how to avoid duplicate page content issues such as when you incorporate printer-only versions of your pages and much more. It is really surprising how much information is packed in to this relatively slim book.

There are many instances of code in the book that you need to type as you work through the exercises. Since there is no CD of these code snippets included with the book, the author has thoughtfully made available from the publisher website, a zip archive of the code.

To my knowledge, there currently is no other introduction to using CMS Made Simple. This book should quite frankly be required reading to anyone thinking of building a website with CMSMS. It will greatly accelerate your ability to successfully install, build and deploy a website based on CMSMS. The book is completely efficient in the way the information is presented and will give you a well-rounded perspective on using CMSMS. The book is designed with beginners in mind but even someone who has worked with CMSMS for a few years is likely to discover nuggets in this book that will be beneficial to them. The one thing this book is not, however, is a reference book. It is better to be used as a tutorial.

I have more computer books in my bookshelf than I care to count but this book is what I would consider a top-shelf book. It is easily digested, amazingly comprehensive and the only book you really need to get up and running with CMS Made Simple.

You can purchase CMS Made Simple 1.6: Beginner's Guide from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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46 comments

How simple is it really... (2, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | more than 3 years ago | (#32101824)

...if you need a book?

Re:How simple is it really... (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 3 years ago | (#32101888)

It isn't simple by default. It is made simple by reading the book, as you may have noticed if you bothered to read past the first word of the title.

Re:How simple is it really... (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102314)

It's not the title of the book, it's the title of the CMS used. "CMS Made Simple" it's called, or CMSMS for short. Check it out for yourself [cmsms.org] .

Re:How simple is it really... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#32107494)

Oh, phew. After skimming the title of the summary (which, I think, still puts me ahead of most slashdotters), I was initially afraid that CMS stood for "CMS made simple"

Re:How simple is it really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32102678)

CMSes are supposed to be easy for the end user but are generally rather difficult for the admin. A CMS has non standard ways of changing the design, adding content other than text or photos usually means lots of admin time figuring out how to make it easy for the end user, etc.

Who cares about this shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32102036)

Only book printers and cocksuckers...

Re:How simple is it really... (1)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 3 years ago | (#32114030)

Some people don't even know how to create a new folder on their desktop... for those people, they need a book. For us, it is so simple, it's actually a bit mind numbingly simple.

It is about time... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32101838)

that someone made the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) simple. Or did the writer mean something else? He never did say.

Re:It is about time... (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102038)

that someone made the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) simple. Or did the writer mean something else? He never did say.

Its rare that I'd want an anonymous coward modded up, but he/she has a point. Nowhere in this review does it say what the acronym CMS stands for. You can argue that this is a tech site and that CMS is a common acronym, or you can use google - but its a piss poor review that assumes that you know what they are reviewing or makes you do extra work to find out what they are reviewing.

Re:It is about time... (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102196)

Well, the problem is it isn't clear. It does talk about an Open Content Management System (CMS) and the book is about CMS (Content Management System) Made Simple (CMSMS). And the rest of the review talks about CMSMS (Content Management System Made Simple).

So it could be clearer with some parenthesis :)

[John]

Re:It is about time... (1)

cnymike (1795548) | more than 3 years ago | (#32110302)

The CMS (Content Management System) is called CMS Made Simple (CMSMS). The book is titled, "CMS Made Simple 1.6: Beginner's Guide."

Re:It is about time... (1)

cnymike (1795548) | more than 3 years ago | (#32110242)

You raise a valid point. Nowhere in my review did I specify that the acronym CMS stands for Content Management System. That was my oversight. I assumed that the acronym "CMS" would be recognized for what it stood for by readers of Slashdot. If I submit again in the future, I won't make that assumption.

CMS? (3, Funny)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#32101882)

I don't recall working with CMS on an IBM being all that difficult.

Re:CMS? (1)

cmacb (547347) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102172)

I wonder how many /.ers will get that any more.

Re:CMS? (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102580)

Anyone who followed the SCO debacle will probably get it right away;
  that was my main exposure to IBM's version of RC.

And I would guess a large proportion of ./'ers followed the whole SCO thing!

Re:CMS? (1)

EQ (28372) | more than 3 years ago | (#32104572)

I wonder how many /.ers will get that any more.

About as many as know Rexx

Re:CMS? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102430)

How hard could it be, the damn thing didn't use any IRQ or DMA, it only had a single jumper to set the address (default 220h).

Re:CMS? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 3 years ago | (#32106530)

I don't recall working with CMS on an IBM being all that difficult.

You beat me to it. I was going to say I can't use CMS because I no longer have a 3270 terminal, so I use Drupal instead.

Book review or product marketing? (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 3 years ago | (#32101914)

This reads to me like "download CMSMS and try it out" rather than a book review.

Re:Book review or product marketing? (3, Insightful)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102092)

I got that idea as well. Having used CMSMS quite a bit, I'll say this: It is a solid system, but the core devs can be assholes. Very knowledgeable assholes, who write excellent code, but assholes nonetheless.

The lack of documentation is astounding, and is why I left to write my own system in CodeIgniter, then on to Django. I read all available documentation, couldnt' figure out an issue, and asked in the IRC channel. I was told to read the documentation. I replied that I did, and it wasn't there -- their reply? "Then read the code comments. We're busy."

Screw that.

Re:Book review or product marketing? (1)

TheKubrix (585297) | more than 3 years ago | (#32104862)

Way to spread FUD....

I've visited the IRC channel numerous times for support and every single time I've had friendly service. I'm convinced that you're lying as I've never seen anyone treated like that there. Also doesn't help your case that you drop names of other products....

Re:Book review or product marketing? (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 3 years ago | (#32108016)

Want me to name names, then? One of the core devs, a Canadian, is well known for his attitude. As I said, he's a great dev and know his shit, he jsut lacks tact. WTF would I have to gain from promoting Django or CI? If I was trying to drop name, why wouldn't I drop the name of *my CMS*?

Re:Book review or product marketing? (1)

oztiks (921504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102122)

Dont worry, the concept that this is a book for "beginners" yet cites you need to have knowledge in basic CSS/HTML lost me.

Isn't the point of a CMS a means to do away with these concepts?

Re:Book review or product marketing? (2, Insightful)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102388)

My idea of a CMS is that you have someone set your site up for you the way you want it, and THEN it's simple to maintain - adding new pages, updating content etc. Getting the initial templates etc to look the way you want them, though, is usually not simple, and that's what it seems this book is covering. So - if you want to make CMSMS websites from scratch, you'd get this book. If you hired someone to make you a site & you're just keeping it up to date, you don't need the book or knowledge of CSS etc.

Re:Book review or product marketing? (1)

cnymike (1795548) | more than 3 years ago | (#32110548)

I can't speak for the author, but I think the book title might have more aptly been, "CMS Made Simple 1.6: An Introduction" rather than "...:Beginner's Guide." The CMS (content management system) itself, CMS Made Simple, is sufficiently simple enough that a beginner could easily produce a site with no knowledge of basic CSS/HTML. If you want to customize the template or output of the modules, then you will need to have knowledge of CSS/HTML and Smarty to accomplish that.

Re:Book review or product marketing? (1)

cnymike (1795548) | more than 3 years ago | (#32110466)

A couple points... This was my first submission to Slashdot and in fact my first experience with Slashdot. I did (do) not fully understand the audience on Slashdot. My writing style is a bit different than what you /.ers may be accustomed to. I tend to inject personal experience in reviews that I write. The comments thus far have enlightened me to how that may come off as me attempting to promote the "product" instead of just reviewing the book. Ultimately, my goal was simply to write a basic review of the book and express my satisfaction with it. No hidden agenda.

Re:Book review or product marketing? (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 3 years ago | (#32119168)

Sorry- I didn't mean to say that it was a bad review. I just got the overall impression that someone was trying to sell me on the CMS rather than the book. I think it was a very good review though.

Yet another CMS tool (1)

oztiks (921504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102068)

The ultimate tool in allowing customers screw up their websites at a press of a button ...

Re:Yet another CMS tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32102396)

It's also yet another CMS tool that hasn't seen a single security audit by a 3rd party. You can see obvious proof of this with their releases and notes.

They have to quickly put out fires for untested crap all the time. It's got promise, but they don't apparently have the resources to spend a few grand with an outside security firm to fix the underlying issues with their software.

Re:Yet another CMS tool (2, Interesting)

dh003i (203189) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102874)

and what CMS would you recommend that has been security tested by an outside firm? One that is as general-purpose as CMSMS?

Re:Yet another CMS tool (3, Interesting)

oatworm (969674) | more than 3 years ago | (#32104206)

Well, whitehouse.gov switched to Drupal not too long ago. That would sort of imply that somebody, somewhere did some testing against it. Heck, they even contributed code [arstechnica.com] .

concrete5 is a better CMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32102168)

Concrete5 is great CMS for developers and end-users. It doesn't follow the standard portal design that most copy-cat content management systems have where you need to login to a dashboard and edit pages "behind the scenes". End-users navigate through their actual site editing pages as needed in a simple point-click, drag-drop interface. Your clients will be stunned by how easy it is to use. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/concrete5cms

Worsth cms ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32102362)

I had to work with that CMS and its the worst CMS. From a security point of view they got it all wrong and the php code doesn't respect any coding standard or standard practice like design pattern.

Concrete5 or Silver stripe are 2 good CMS and the have version traking built-in to prevent you user to do the irreparable.

Magnolia? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#32103446)

I had to work with that CMS and its the worst CMS.

Oh, no, you haven't seen the worst until you've had to rescue someone from a proprietary CMS which was designed primarily to create vendor lock-in. And then the vendor goes away. And then they used a PHP obfuscator. And some kind of in-memory symbol breaker.

Anybody here used Magnolia [cmsmatrix.org] ? I was looking at it for a family member's small business.

Re:Worsth cms ever (1)

cnymike (1795548) | more than 3 years ago | (#32110580)

The review was of the book, not of the content management system that the book was about.

Neophyte? CSS (1)

gavron (1300111) | more than 3 years ago | (#32102386)

Seriously, a "neophyte" knows CSS?

Why didn't she just write it in Klingon. "A Neophyte can understand this... if they know Klingon."

E

"Simple" here is a relative term. (2, Informative)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 3 years ago | (#32107442)

We have been using CMS Made Simple exclusively for five years now. Pretty simple to administer and use for professional site developers (i.e. knows xHTML/CSS, knows their way around their server or hosting account, and can at least handle some simple PHP coding), but it's NOT for the brain-dead masses.

__

On a side note.. It is refreshing to see something about a CMS package posted here other than Yet Another WordPress|Joomla Security Vulnerability.

Simple? (1)

CondeZer0 (158969) | more than 3 years ago | (#32251170)

There are some really simple CMS [cat-v.org] s, compared to those this CMS looks really complicated... but simplicity standards in software are rather low this days :(

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