A response from the Dev Team to some of the points that arose from the Big CMS Made Simple Survey
As you know, we recently had the Big CMS Made Simple Survey and we were delighted with the response. It’s given us a great deal of food for thought. If you’d like to know a little more about the basic results of the survey, then take a look here. Another part of the survey asked, ‘what do you dislike about CMSMS’. We were very pleased to see this was the least filled in question! However, there were a small series of points that came up more than once, and because of that, it seemed like a good idea to get a little deeper into them here.
As you know, we recently had the Big CMS Made Simple Survey and we were delighted with the response. It’s given us a great deal of food for thought. If you’d like to know a little more about the basic results of the survey, then take a look here.
Another part of the survey asked, ‘what do you dislike about CMSMS’. We were very pleased to see this was the least filled in question! However, there were a small series of points that came up more than once, and because of that, it seemed like a good idea to get a little deeper into them here.
Posted: October 10, 2019 by scotch33
Looking at these small issues, it occurred to us that most are as a result of using CMSMS in situations where needs and/or ability level might mean that it isn't your best choice. Now, of course, we don't want to put anyone off using CMS Made Simple, but we do want all our users to understand it – because that's when they love it!
So, without further preamble, let's have a look at the top three concerns and articulate our response.
1. There aren't enough templates for CMS Made Simple.
Compared to such systems as WordPress, Magento, and Joomla it's entirely fair to say there are far less available 'pre-created' templates/themes available to you that can just be downloaded and installed 'off the shelf'. Of course, we are always very welcoming of developer/designers who want to provide such templates. However, it's important to understand that CMS Made Simple isn't trying to be a system that gets downloaded, has a template applied and is then 'good to go'.
One of the main reasons that CMSMS is so popular with developer/designers who want genuine control over the look and feel of their site, is that it's incredibly straightforward to write an HTML page with the corresponding CSS and other scripts, then convert that set of documents into a master template. Unlike many other systems out there that require a specific way of creating a template/theme, CMSMS allows use of any HTML build that you want to create – all you do at the most basic level is to replace certain parts of your created page with Smarty tags such as the 'content' tag to pull in dynamic elements.
You're never going to find a huge library of CMSMS Templates available online to download and apply. But, if you want to be able to create a template that matches the design your client has approved to the pixel, the CMSMS method of development is perfect.
And if you do just want a site that you can push out of the door with a slightly customized commercial template, then let us be honest and say whilst you can use CMSMS for that, its real strengths lie elsewhere.
2. CMS Made Simple is 'complicated'
Ok. We get it. So, let's clarify this – CMS Made Simple is simple for the users; those site owners who are using the modules as created by their developers to manage (for example) their content. It's supposed to be simple so a site owner can jump into the content manager, or into a 3rd party module and edit the entries easily. And to us, those are users. Their experience will always be simple. However, for the developers defining that experience, we don't want simple – we want powerful.
As a developer using CMS Made Simple, you have a group of killer core modules and a host of well thought out 3rd party add-ons that you can use, mash-up, or write from scratch to create hugely powerful websites and web applications. Modules will talk to each other from the get-go because they are built on common architecture.
But, the trade-off for that power is that in many cases there isn't a simple set of module options that you, as the developer, configure. You're going to need to get into the way the system works. You are going to need, at the least an understanding of PHP and Smarty. You are going to need to ask questions and be prepared to learn. We understand that isn't for everyone. We will never be an off the shelf solution that you can rig up and set live with no coding knowledge. There are fantastic systems out there that will do that, right down, these days, to some of the build-your-own website solutions on the market. We want you to use CMS Made Simple when it's right for your job. When you do need it, it's the best solution available.
3. Updates are too hard / I preferred the 1.0 version
The internet is a moving feast. No software can standstill. Why? In 2004 when CMSMS started, and up to 2008/2010 there were no 'web apps' in any meaningful way, smartphones were just coming in, HTTPS was expensive, server resources were scarce and expensive. The underlying languages have continued to upgrade – PHP, Smarty, even good old HTML and CSS themselves. Everything is under development. As technologies change, demands change. If we simply stopped and patched CMSMS in its current state, it would not last very long. It really is a case of adapt or die.
We make decisions based on the best information that we have at the time. We're always striving to improve the system to make it the most efficient it can be within its current server, language and code ecosystem. That sometimes means that we need to retire parts of the system that no longer make sense. When we do, we'll always try to provide a path to make changes easier for you. But we do recognise that can sometimes be a challenge.
And it's the same for our module creators, like us they are all volunteers creating what they create, with lives, families and jobs outside of their CMSMS activities. On occasion, they are not in a position to carry on with a module. When that happens, the module is always available to be picked up by another developer.
And we are of course, always keen to encourage you to join us and the module developers. If you find that a favorite module is becoming stale or won't update properly – come and join us in making the system better!
Well, there it is; the three elements we felt it was worth addressing directly. We were also delighted that a few of the critics not only brought up these (and other minor queries) but also included an offer to get involved. And, to be honest, if you really want to have a major influence on the future of your favorite CMS System, come and get involved properly. There is always room for more people on the Dev Team from coders to marketers, from translators to documentation geeks! We are a broad church and (most of the time) we're really fun to know!