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Author Topic: SilverStripe - Easy to use open source CMS + Framework  (Read 5216 times)
justice
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« on: July 20, 2012, 09:33:52 AM »

Just wanted to recommend SilverStripe CMS and the SilverStripe Framework (previously saphire).  I've tried to bend Wordpress to a CMS role, and have experience developing and maintaining a Drupal, Joomla CMS site and made some sites using CodeIgniter PHP framework (and rolled many from scratch). I tried Squarespace (if you want to spend money).

However SilverStripe is so easy to manage content with. Designers can take an existing template with stylesheets and get a basic working site going within the hour. Developers can use the extensive framework and feature set and expand from there, it's very elegant.

Negatives
At the moment the documentation is not yet up completely up to date with SS 3.0 (released end of june), and you will be googling the API and documentation sites quite a bit in order to piece the various components together. Also I've asked two questions on the forums without reply (although most questions seem to get good responses generally).

Positives
That said, it's used by it's commercial developer to create and maintain sites for major New Zealand's major companies and organisations.
You can drag and drop images into an image field. You can then use Image.SetWidth(300) in your template and it will generate appropriate derivatives. You install one module and it will generate a full REST webservice based on your data. You add a few lines and your list of news items are now also exposed as an RSS feed. etc.

You will see many more sites from me in the future based on this.  Thmbsup Is there anyone here that have used it for any projects?

« Last Edit: July 20, 2012, 09:41:17 AM by justice » Logged

mouser
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 12:00:09 PM »

I don't have any experience with it but I look forward to hearing more about it from you as you get more experience using it.
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nudone
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2012, 12:14:10 PM »

I had a quick look at Silverstripe a few months ago but I was already familiar with CMS Made Simple, so didn't give it much of my time. I find CMSMS easier and "simple"er to work with when compared with Joomla. But I also find WordPress just "nicer" to use overall because of the stuff you can make it do, though, I do think it is very lacking as a proper CMS (regardless of how many people try to convince themselves that it is, or can be with the right plugins).

Looking at the Silverstripe 3 backend, I'm quite impressed. It looks clean and easy to find your way around. So, I'm going to give it a try and forget about CMS Made Simple for a while.

CMS Made Simple uses the Smarty php tag system to do a lot of work, which I'm no master of but have found it preferable to trying to make things work with Joomla (which I can find my way around if there's no other option). I wonder how Silverstripe compares in this area; I mean, is it easy to customise - is it nicer than Joomla let's say, is it better than using WordPress with loads of plugins?

As mouser said, anything you learn, justice, and want to share will be very useful to hear.
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nudone
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2012, 12:50:55 PM »

Okay, just going through the Silverstripe tutorial on how to create a site - not quite what I was expecting. Looks like there's plenty to learn before you even get a basic site set up. I'll have to see if it's simple to follow - haven't got time to spend days figuring stuff out.

edit:
Right, I'm going to shut-up for a bit as I've obviously missed a step during installation. I can't access the backend when logging in - which made me think I'd got to create everything from scratch before being able to do the most basic of tasks.

I'll come back when I've got something intelligent to say.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2012, 01:03:26 PM by nudone » Logged
40hz
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 01:45:13 PM »

@nudone - make things easy for yourself. Just download a copy of AMPPS to use as your development environment. You can install Silverstripe (and about 270 other web apps) from inside AMPPS. AMPPS has them all scripted. It's click, answer a few questions, and go for most of the webapps in its catalog.

It's all free too.

Check out the two demo videos here.

Cool tool!  Cool
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superboyac
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2012, 03:57:29 PM »

@nudone - make things easy for yourself. Just download a copy of AMPPS to use as your development environment. You can install Silverstripe (and about 270 other web apps) from inside AMPPS. AMPPS has them all scripted. It's click, answer a few questions, and go for most of the webapps in its catalog.

It's all free too.

Check out the two demo videos here.

Cool tool!  Cool
I've been meaning to try this on my new webhost.  Just one question: it seems to be a one-off service.  As in, I use AMPPS to install silverstripe, and then I never use it again?  Do you use AMPPS again after setting up the initial website?
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40hz
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2012, 04:39:01 PM »

@nudone - make things easy for yourself. Just download a copy of AMPPS to use as your development environment. You can install Silverstripe (and about 270 other web apps) from inside AMPPS. AMPPS has them all scripted. It's click, answer a few questions, and go for most of the webapps in its catalog.

It's all free too.

Check out the two demo videos here.

Cool tool!  Cool
I've been meaning to try this on my new webhost.  Just one question: it seems to be a one-off service.  As in, I use AMPPS to install silverstripe, and then I never use it again?  Do you use AMPPS again after setting up the initial website?

Yes. It's your WAMP stack. You can also uninstall webapps using it. If you already have a webhost set up I'm not sure this is what you're looking for. I also don't know if you can use it with a hosting site. AFAICT it's designed to be your own Windows webserver.

To just install the scripts you'd use the Softaculous Auto Installer part which is either free or $12/$24 annually. But it's designed to replace something like Fantastico or cPanel. So I think you'd either need your host to install it, or you'd need to have a dedicated or virtual server that you have full administrative access to. (Note: you also need to have cPanel already installed on your server before you can  install Softaculous if I understand it correctly.)

Might want to contact them directly (sales@softaculous.com) if you want it to go on a server you can't sit down next to. I only use it to evaluate and experiment with - although you could do a test site and then migrate the directories over to a live site once you were happy with it. Some people are using it that way.

 smiley
« Last Edit: July 20, 2012, 04:45:09 PM by 40hz » Logged

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superboyac
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2012, 05:23:28 PM »

@nudone - make things easy for yourself. Just download a copy of AMPPS to use as your development environment. You can install Silverstripe (and about 270 other web apps) from inside AMPPS. AMPPS has them all scripted. It's click, answer a few questions, and go for most of the webapps in its catalog.

It's all free too.

Check out the two demo videos here.

Cool tool!  Cool
I've been meaning to try this on my new webhost.  Just one question: it seems to be a one-off service.  As in, I use AMPPS to install silverstripe, and then I never use it again?  Do you use AMPPS again after setting up the initial website?

Yes. It's your WAMP stack. You can also uninstall webapps using it. If you already have a webhost set up I'm not sure this is what you're looking for. I also don't know if you can use it with a hosting site. AFAICT it's designed to be your own Windows webserver.

To just install the scripts you'd use the Softaculous Auto Installer part which is either free or $12/$24 annually. But it's designed to replace something like Fantastico or cPanel. So I think you'd either need your host to install it, or you'd need to have a dedicated or virtual server that you have full administrative access to. (Note: you also need to have cPanel already installed on your server before you can  install Softaculous if I understand it correctly.)

Might want to contact them directly (sales@softaculous.com) if you want it to go on a server you can't sit down next to. I only use it to evaluate and experiment with - although you could do a test site and then migrate the directories over to a live site once you were happy with it. Some people are using it that way.

 smiley
I see, thanks.  Then I don't think it's the tool for me.  Inmotion is really great with this kind of thing either with a call or event heir online help is awesome.  But it's something to consider for real independent type of work.
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nudone
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2012, 03:52:09 AM »

@nudone - make things easy for yourself. Just download a copy of AMPPS to use as your development environment. You can install Silverstripe (and about 270 other web apps) from inside AMPPS. AMPPS has them all scripted. It's click, answer a few questions, and go for most of the webapps in its catalog.

It's all free too.

Check out the two demo videos here.

Cool tool!  Cool

Thanks for the advice, 40. I think you've recommended AMPPS before - and I've also said I'll use it. Since then I must have forgotten as I'm currently using WAMP (was using XAMPP but found WAMP a bit more versatile with the "plugins" it has).

I'll probably stick with WAMP because that's where everything is on my system - I am going to give AMPPS a go now on a another machine.
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justice
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2012, 05:12:45 AM »

if you use Microsoft's web platform installer to install SilverStripe CMS be aware it installs as of today, still the older 2.4 version which am sure works fine but things have improved since then. WPI doesn't tell you this in advance :O)
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 05:17:50 AM by justice » Logged

nudone
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2012, 05:33:10 AM »

I like the look of AMPPS, well, I like the convenience it offers when setting things up - but I also don't like it for the same reason. Without the time I've spent messing about with X/Wamp/p I'd not know where to look when needing to see what is really going on underneath AMPPS easy configuration system. I tend to set up "clones" of live sites on my local machine so knowing where things really are helps - also, not a big thing perhaps, but WAMP's system tray icon displays different colours per server state - which is very helpful when you are constantly turning things on/off.

In this quick test I've just done, AMPPS didn't have the latest version of Silverstripe - as justice mentioned above.

I've now got Silverstripe running perfectly well now within Wamp - the previous cock-up was because I'd not entered an admin login email address during installation - so I couldn't figure out how to login, duh!

So, I'm working my way through the basic tutorial now.
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nudone
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2012, 07:20:49 AM »

Okay, quick update. I don't think I'll be going much futher with Silverstripe. I really do like the look of the admin backend but I don't see enough features readily accessible now that I've had a closer look. CMS Made Simple's backend interface is one of the ugliest things I've seen but it does give me a better set of functions/options to play with. Wordpress (with CMS plugins installed) is kinda ugly too - they could learn a lot from the Silverstripe layout.

I do note that Silverstripe might be more of a specialist system; the "Dataoject Relationship Management" I saw in the tutorial isn't something I've encountered before. I can see that being of great benefit to some people - though, I guess there might be other CMSs and plugins available out there that might be even better.
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40hz
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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2012, 08:52:10 AM »

If it's any consolation, I have yet to find any CMS that does what I want it to do the way I want it done. And I must have evaluated all of them by now.

But if I ever do decide to use one, I'll probably opt for one of the two most popular - either Joomla or Wordpress. Most likely Wordpress all factors considered.

The alternative is  learning a framework. And life is far to short to get into one of those unless (a) you have truly unique website requirements (b) you do this stuff for a living, or (c) this stuff is a burning passion for you. Because if you just want to do up a nice website, any of the 'majors' will serve equally well.

Or so it seems to me.

Onward! Thmbsup
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nudone
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« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2012, 09:27:11 AM »

I agree. Wordpress tends to be the way to go, even if it doesn't really seem right. I do actually do this for a living and don't have the time to learn new frameworks (or even existing ones). Clients have heard of "WordPress" and like the idea of having their website built around it; which is often amusing when they realise the plugins required for thier website to function, how they really wanted, is beyond what they care to learn how to use.

WordPress just needs a few little built-in CMS style additions and I'd never even think about using anything else (the available plugins are fine, it's just a worrying when there are so many updates and possible conflicts, though, that doesn't seem much of a problem so far).

As for Joomla, had to spend a lot of time with it and the Fabrik database module. Probably, the most stressful experience I've ever had (overal several months). Truth is, someone else should have taken over and created a custom system from scratch - but the client didn't have anywhere near the budget for that - and I couldn't say no at the time. So, to avoid panic attacks and depression, I don't want to touch Joomla ever again.
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40hz
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« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2012, 09:42:37 AM »

So, to avoid panic attacks and depression, I don't want to touch Joomla ever again.

Aw c'mon. Joomla's only trying to kill the unwary. I'm told it doesn't hurt a bit. tongue

On a more serious note, I agree. Joomla (like other CMS systems) works best when you use it the way it was intended and don't try to push it too far beyond that. Otherwise you end up with a crow's nest like phpNuke - which can do almost everything - but nothing particularly well except breaking more often than most. At least from my experience with it.

The funny thing is, the more I work with Wordpress, the more I find myself liking it. It's not great. And some of what passes for its internal "design" can set your hair on end. But of all the choices out there, Wordpress seems to hit that elusive sweet spot best. And it's adoption rate shows that.

Sometimes good 'nuf is as good as it gets. tongue

Especially when it comes to webapps. undecided
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nudone
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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2012, 09:59:19 AM »

Well, I did exaggerate (of course). I'd use Joomla again if it seemed right - I don't have many other experienced options to choose from if I'm honest.

phpNuke sounds interesting. I'd give it a go but you've, cleverly, managed to put me off already. WordPress isn't going away so we all may as well just learn how to navigate the bad bits - using it makes my life easier without a doubt regardless of the hurdles involved.

On another note: I've just installed the latest beta for CMS Made Simple - they've finally gone and updated the backend interface. Looks better, not sure how much, just definitely better. I'm going to mess about that for a bit - though, recent client expecations (as I mentioned) means I'll probably never use CMS Made Simple ever again.
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40hz
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« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2012, 02:59:52 PM »

phpNuke sounds interesting. I'd give it a go but you've, cleverly, managed to put me off already.

Oh, don't take my word for it. phpNuke is fun. But it feels (to me) more like a science faire project. It was "totally Rad" when it first came out. The problem is it's a very loose ship the Nuke crowd is running. You've got professional brilliance rubbing shoulders with rank amateurism when it comes to plug-ins. YMMV.

Of course if you did use AMPPS it would be very easy to try things out. Even if you didn't use it for your production environment. Hmm...hmm...hmm.tra-lala-la! tongue

BTW, AMPPS doesn't hide anything from you. Once it's installed you can open the control panel:



Select any part of the installed stack:



And review or edit the configuration file for that component:



And if you screw something up ditzing around, you can always restore the original default config with the click of a button.



Lovely! Butterscotch lovely. Kiss

Looking in the AMPPS installation directory (which you can specify when you install it) you'll see a structure virtually identical to what you'll find on many hosting services or standard web servers. On my machine, I put all my web stuff on the D drive under a directory called wdev. So my home directory for AMPPS is D:/wdev/Ampps/



All webapps are installed in the www directory under /Ampps. Depending on the app, you may be able to specify the name of the directory for it. Below you'll see a directory for a Wordpress site (wpuwg) for a project I'm currently working on. (Note: Wordpress does let you spec the directory. Some webapps don't.)



Again, nothing mysterious. Most host sites do the same although they may use another directory rather than /www.

And while AMPPS may risk throwing out the baby's rubber duckie with the bath water if somebody chooses to do so, it's by no means a black box. Everything is out in the open. There's even instructions on their wiki that will allow you to customize or create your own webapp installation script if you want. True, it may not let you experience all the technical intricacies of bringing up a W/L/AMP stack from scratch. (Been there. Done that. Worth doing once or twice just to see what's involved.) But if your goal is to get a development environment up and running quickly, and make a webapp installation virtually bulletproof, it can't be beat IMO.

And that's about all I have to say about AMPPS.  Thmbsup
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 03:05:55 PM by 40hz » Logged

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justice
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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2012, 03:19:02 PM »

Yeah so SilverStripe is not for everyone. If you like your features already available in your CMS, you will want to use another product, and loathe it for it. However this thing is great when you want a 90% there CMS with extensibility and make it so easy to add the rest. This is great when:

- You are setting up a CMS for a client and will need to deal with specific requirements anyway.
- You have a specific requirement for yourself and have php programming knowledge.
- You find that all the functionality you require is already available in SilverStripe modules. Many things are, but not as much as drupal modules haha (I remember having to download up to 22 modules to setup HTML email templates for system mails - with drupal).

However when you create your own page types, silverstripe rebuilds the data base schema for you. You can create a new administration section for your products in several dozen lines of php, without having to write UI code (take that wordpress plugin authors). When you can leverage functionality already built in to create a static version of your site, and boost the performance of your site, or ssh it automatically to remote servers.

However if that paragraph doesn't make much sense then you are probably better off with a blogger account or Website Baker smiley

BTW insteaod of using a WAMP stack I am now using a virutal machine with ubuntu which works very well (tutorials elsewhere on this site).

Things I would now use it for:
- replace my dcmembers site with something that looks 21st century and unifies news, software, blog and other features.

- build the getbard.com website and make it trivial to maintain
- a personal portfolio so that you can enter a gallery of screenshots, description, urls of projects. I tried to make a WordPress plugin to make it easier to make custom content types by making it a single line of code to add an image field etc. Well Silverstripe already allows this way more flexible.
-a cv builder website (keep my cv versioned in a database, and integrate some kind of PDF export option. Quick to build when adding fields is so easy.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 03:40:29 PM by justice » Logged

Carol Haynes
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« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2012, 03:25:17 PM »

Said it before (and say it again) I like Joomla - but maybe that's because I now use it for all my projects and have things pretty well sorted out for most of my needs.

I am not doing anything complicated so I suppose that makes a difference.

AMPPS looks interesting - I will check it out.
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nudone
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« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2012, 04:32:47 PM »

I've bookmarked your ubuntu server setup, justice. Had it there a while. I'm tempted to go through all your steps with the intention of then setting something up on Linode, as that seems like a good way of getting to grips with hosting beyond the comforts of cPanel. It's just having the time to spare.

I think you are spot on with Silverstripe. I'm not too hot with php so I can't start thinking in terms of modifying a cms in that way. Wish I could but time doesn't allow that either. Having said that I must waste days trying to force a set of plugins to do what a client needs, so I'm talking rubbish really.

As for AMPPS, I see what you mean, 40, but it's still actually more long winded to use amps than it is wamps, in my case, at least. I did go through all of the config panels and menus with ampps and they aren't as convenient as the wamp system tray and a couple of desktop shortcuts, well, again, not for me. Anything that reduces the number of times I have to click tends to win for me, and that's wamp. I've got a system that I can fault find with, moving to amps might mean I'll miss something... maybe. I tend to swap the virtual servers around a lot, changing the domains and databases so quickly editing a text file is all I need - I wasn't sure if ampps would follow what I was doing so didn't give it much thought after that.

Edit:
Just thought I'd quickly mention another thing about wamp. You can use different versions of php, apache and mysql with it, all accessible via the system tray. I've not seen this available elsewhere. I admit you probably would never need it but I've a few sites that I have to keep swapping versions around, this is all done with just a few clicks with wamp.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 04:40:16 PM by nudone » Logged
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