Why yet another content management system?

There must be 100's if not 1,000's of CMSs out there to choose from, so the question remains "What makes this CMS special?"

We suppose that all content management systems started out simple, but then they got really complex, with users requesting more features that were gradually added to the application. We couldn't find a simple CMS that just did static output so we decided to fill the gap on the low end side.

We have similar needs to other CMS users, and in fact we have used a lot of them. They were just too wieldy, as we just wanted to produce simple HTML without the creation and management of templates, databases, permission, basically anything that got in the way of creating content. We tried to design a simple CMS for the simple case.

Imagine if you will...

Imagine a more chaotic time, a time before rsscms... you get the following brief:

Create an HTML mock-up of our site 'Acme Widgets'. There are 5 different page types, and we need a mock-up of each of them.

A relatively simple brief.

As a Java web application developer...

Being a Java web application developer, you would have had access to many powerful tools. We know that to create a simple static you had to do the same thing over and over again.

So you get to work, you create myriads of include files, breaking up the pages into nice snippets. The problem still remains that every single directory or page that you created required some sort of index file. If a change came through, you had to change all of the files.

Maybe you scripted the change, maybe you did it by hand. In either case, it was just one more step that you had to do to get the job done. We have removed this dependency, by using hierarchical directory template searching. We added even more power by being able to have multiple branches of the directory structure to utilise the exact same template.

As a web developer...

Sure there is software out there that allow includes of snippets of HTML and management of files, but they are a little bit bloated and they add all these comments as markers for the inserted text - this will not do.

Besides, aren't we past the point in paying for web development software?

As a designer...

So you get to work, you fire up Adobe Photoshop/The Gimp/Microsoft Paint and get to work designing the five pages of the site. They approve your first design (this is an imaginary example after all) and you get to work marking up the HTML and CSS. You mock-up the five pages in HTML and present it to them.

Then they decide to change the navigation system... and in this example, it is a simple request...

Sure, working in this modern society, you have separated most of the content from the presentation, but this change requires you to add a heading to the navigation and this change will be site-wide. So you fire up your favourite HTML editor, add the necessary change and corresponding CSS to the first page, then you add the change to the second page, the third, fourth and fifth.

You can't help wondering whether this is an easier way to include the change automatically from the first page on all of the other pages...

Thankfully, you are back in the present time and rsscms is in existence...

So why rsscms

synapticloop has been in all of the above positions, we were looking for a cms that solved the majority of the problems. The greatest problem that we found was balancing power and simplicity.

Power versus simplicity

There are so many features that we could have added to the CMS, but when we pared it down to the essentials that encapsulated the way in which sites are created, rsscms was the final product.

The more powerful a CMS, the more complex it becomes to manage and create content. We walked a fine line when building the CMS to ensure that everything that we needed to do most of the time was added, anything that was useful just once in a while was removed.

Wherever there was another, better tool out there, we let that tool be the one to use. As an example:

Link checking
We didn't include link checking as there are excellent tools out there, such as Xenu and DeepVacuum - even wget for the command line junkies.
File uploading
When you need to get your site to your website, why not try CyberDuck, or FileZilla - or even the venerable ftp command.
Versioning
We use CVS at synapticloop, however there is always SubVersion, Visual Source Safe or Git. Or, you could just publish the site and take a backup.