Content Management Without the Killing

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Information about Content Management Without the Killing

Published on May 31, 2008

Author: drewm



These don't make a huge amount of sense without the commentary. See for a more formal write-up.

content management (without the killing) drew mclellan,

o hai! a specialist web development agency experienced in building web applications from content management systems, e-commerce applications, to the systems that run your business.

so, content management then.

a tool for preparing eggs should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. - Eggbert Einstein


“A boiled egg makes an almost perfect breakfast. It's the most nutritional breakfast money can buy. The downside is that it's a bit of a hassle to prepare. First you have to wait 5 minutes for the water to boil, place the egg in the boiling water, remembering to set the timer, fish it out when it's cooked and finally you have to wash up the pan.” - James Seddon

as simple as possible, but no simpler.

say when.

so controlling. you’re not the boss of me

you don’t understand my needs that’s all I’m saying

you’re not my type.

offline management

online management

build something, anything.

your site, your way.

it’s not you, it’s me.

common features.


use readable, reliable and hackable URLs - Tom Coates


data feeds

data stored in an open format

customisable and accessible administration interface


multi-site support

multi-language support


web 2.0 features (cringe)

user generated content (cringe)

off the shelf systems

weblog management systems

weblog management systems • posts / articles • categories and tags • comments • sections • flat site structures • simple to set up and use

beware the pimped out blog site don’t launch a new site with a weblog cms already stretched to its limits.

case study

state of existing site • CVS proving too awkward for casual edits • Movable Type was painfully slow to publish • wanted the ability to turn on comments • considering a full redesign anyway

choice to use WordPress • continued to be free of charge • new ‘pages’ feature to handle site content • integrated blog • no republishing for comments • moderation and spam filtering • Matt Mullenweg was part of WaSP

lessons learned • dynamic rendering is a lot more expensive • the ‘pages’ feature was immature and slow

lessons learned • dynamic rendering is a lot more expensive • the ‘pages’ feature was immature and slow • hacking WordPress was a bad idea

solutions • unhack WordPress • re-implement our hacks with the plugin API • upgrade to faster hosting

avoid getting into an unsupportable configuration at all costs.

medium scale content management

medium scale features • weblogs, photo gallery, events calendar • user / membership systems • structure / hierarchy management tools • more powerful search • workflows • versioning

beware! • complicated way to cook an egg • more power results in less simplicity • set up / configuration • maintenance and patching • ease of use

enterprise level content management

building your own

case study cms platform projects • content management at core • bespoke requirements on top • design-led • built for phased development & future expansion

our goals • reusable core functionality • avoid monotonous tasks • decrease the skill level required • be more competitive on smaller projects • structured data • high performance

buy or build?

we decided to build

platform • PHP 5.2, MySQL 4.1 • good performance • easy and inexpensive to host • inexpensive to develop • reliable • in house expertise

design decisions • flexible templating • multiple levels of caching • structured and extensible data types • embeddable applications • ability to exercise control of IA • simple administrative concepts

planning for the future

top tips

know your plugins authenticity, licensing & support

beware hidden costs update charges & maintenance time

be a licensing boffin know what you own & avoid lock-in

plan for the future don’t buy it today

don’t push the limits from day one leave room to expand

be aware of design constraints design for the platform you have

avoid per-user licensing you’re probably being ripped off

speak with existing customers (everyone hates their cms)

know your exit route understand the data import & export options


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