Frequently Asked Questions

This section should have been called the paqs - or 'probably asked questions'.

Installation Questions

How do I install this software?

Unzip/Unarchive the software. Ir-regardless of the bundle that was chosen (e.g. either the 'Apache Tomcat Bundle' or the 'Stand-Alone Bundle') the file must be unarchived. Once the files have been created on your system, start the servlet container and the CMS is ready to go.

For complete installation instructions for a lot of operating systems see the installation documentation.

Can I install it on ... ?

rsscms should work with most operating systems and servlet containers. It has been tested on Apache Tomcat, but should work on IBM WebSphere, ATG Dynamo, BEA WebLogic, etc. If you are using one of the latter servlet containers, it is probably a bit of over-kill - it might just be easier to download Apache Tomcat, or the complete bundle.

It won't start, help?

Was this a question? If you get an error message along the lines of the following: LifecycleException: service.getName(): "Catalina"; Protocol handler start failed: Address already in use:8080 then you already have an instance running. There are three things you can do:

  1. Shut down the other servlet container.
  2. Run the CMS on the other servlet container.
  3. Change the listening port.

The first option is the easiest, although may not be what you need. The second option is the next easiest to implement - see the question below. The final option is to mess around with the configuration of the servlet container installation. Full documentation for changing the listening port can be found in the configuration documentation.

Q: Can I run the CMS under a different context root?

Yes. Currently the CMS runs as the ROOT context which may interfere with your existing installation. In order to run it as something else (e.g. rsscms) you will need to run a web server in front of it, or the navigation links will not work. See the section in the documentation about changing the context root.

Q: Can I run this as a live server?

Yes, absolutely! We do not recommend this approach however, the CMS was designed to generate static content, not serve it up on a live site. From a technical perspective, if we were going to use it as a live server we would have implemented caching (to speed up the serving of the pages), used a better security model, used more StringBuffers for URL manipulation (to speed up the generation of the pages). In a nutshell, it was not designed to scale well, it was designed to generate static HTML that could be published and then served up by a proper web server e.g. Apache or IIS.

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Content Authoring Questions

Why doesn't my navigation show?

Because you asked it not to. If a navigation item does not show up in the correct place, check the following.

Are you using a sort file?
If you are using a sort file, the only directories that will show up are those that are listed within the file. If it is not listed, it won't appear.
Is it in the configuration to be ignored?
Some directories can be configured to be ignored. Have a look at the /webapps/ROOT/WEB-INF/web.xml file under the configuration name STRUCTURE_IGNORE_URLS. Also some directories are hard-coded to never appear such as WEB-INF and META-INF. These directories will never appear as they are internal to the servlet container - this cannot be changed.

Q: Can I use this to dynamically generate JavaScript/CSS files?

No (see below if you want the 'yes' answer) We have thought about this, and there are instances where we would have found it useful as well. The problem comes in two parts. The first is that each page is its own directory, so if you are including more than one CSS/JavaScript file, you would need to have a directory for each. The second part is (assuming you are happy with the above) the output of the file name, at the moment, the publisher generates the same filename for each of the files.

Should we have solved the above in an easy and elegant way, this would probably have added extra complexity, and the acronym ecscms (extra complexity static content management system) just didn't have the same ring to it.

That being said, we may add a static file generator in the future - if you have any examples which would show how it would save a lot of time, please send them over and we will look into it.

Yes! As a work-around - if you are the adventurous type, you could automatically generate inline JavaScript - an example of this is included on this very page (see the sidebar links).

Q: Is there a media uploader/management system

Yes. For the uploader, it is called Microsoft Explorer, Apple Finder, or Linux Konquerer/Nautilus :-). We did not include a built in media manager as we believed that the operating system in-built file manager would be more than sufficient. Just don't forget to publish your content at regular intervals for back-up.

For the management of resources we recommend one of the two following solutions:

  1. Source control system such as CVS, Subversion, Visual Source Safe, or GIT
  2. Publish the site before changes - remember that publishing the site is easy, quick and saves every individual publish into a separate directory.

We at synapticloop use CVS as our versioning tool, this allows a central repository for all developers and meant that we didn't have to build in the functionality that already exists in so many wonderful tools.

Q:Can I have two pages residing in the same directory?

No. the rule is one directory = one page. No exceptions, just create an extra directory for the additional pages.

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Bugs/Feature Requests

Q: How do I report a bug?

Check for an update to the software. If no update exists, or if the update doesn't fix the problem, send an email to and we will get the coding monkeys right on to it.

What version am I running?

Check the file called version.txt in the /webapps/WEB-INF/ directory.

Q: What do the rsscms version numbers mean?

major.minor.micro The major version number is incremented by one with every release that includes new features. The minor version number is incremented for bug fixes that reside in the code. The micro version number is incremented for content changes (e.g. spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, new content etc.)

Q: How do I request a feature?

Politely email We are always looking for new ways to satisfy the needs of our users. Of course this does not guarantee that we will add the functionality - after all we are trying to keep this CMS as simple as possible.

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Licensing Questions

Q: How is this software licensed?

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. You can read the full license here. The source code is available for download and you are able to modify the software and make derivative works.

Q: What Does This Software Cost?

Nothing, Nada, Zip, $0, 0. The software costs nothing provided that you abide by the licensing conditions. Even if you don't comply with the licensing it still won't cost you anything.

Q: If I use this for a commercial site, what do I need to do?

You must attribute this software. Attribution comes in one of two flavours:

  1. A link to the code on the website created with this CMS, OR
  2. An email to with the following information:
    • The website address of your installation
    • Whether permission is granted to place a link on the synapticloop site to your website. (It is not mandatory to give permission, however we would love to have a look at other sites that are using this CMS and share them with the world!)
    • If you do not mention whether you grant us permission, or if it is in any way ambiguous, we will not publish the link.

For commercial engagements, I would recommend the latter.

Q: With attribution, what happens if I am only using it to mock up a website? (i.e. it will never be Internet accessible)

That is fine, just email and say that. We are only really interested in knowing that other people out there are using our software.

Q: What happens to my details with attribution?

Your email address is in safe hands. We hate spam, we will never, ever sell your details.

Furthermore, in the unlikely event that synapticloop gets taken over by a mega-global-compu-tech corporation, your email addresses will be deleted.

If you allow us to publish a link to your website on synapticloop, then the link will remain on the site until it is deleted (or not) at some future point in time.

As a final note, even if you have given us permission to publish the link to your website, we may not do so.

Q: Can't I just redistribute it or even perhaps on-sell it?

YES! you can download the code, do whatever (or nothing) to it and then distribute or sell it on - however, there is one caveat, namely:

Whatever you do with this software, if distributed, the software must be under the same license restrictions as this - i.e. The 'Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License' and must provide attribution to synapticloop. Any derivative works must also be of equivalent licensing structure.

Also be aware that the version bundled with Apache Tomcat operates under a different licensing scheme to rsscms.

Q: Why this license?

It suited our purposes. Other licenses were too restrictive, or not restrictive enough. We wanted a license that allowed the end-user (i.e. you) to do what ever they wanted with it, for no cost, all we ask in return is attribution.

The bottom line is that we just want to know who is using the software - and more importantly whether you enjoy using it.

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