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[Discuss] Small website, non-technical users: Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress? (Solved)

jc at wrote:
> I had a similar case recently. I've helped a few nonprofits build web
> sites, and several have started off looking into Drupal, Joomla, etc.
> After a month or so of this, with nothing working,  I've  combined  a
> few  scripts  that I've collected or written anew with a few of their
> designs for the pages they want, and in  a  week  or  two  they  were
> happey with the results.
> ...they've looked at HTML manuals, and run terrified from the
> incomprehensible technical gobbledy-gook that they saw. HTML is this
> horrible stuff that mere mortals don't stand a chance of
> understanding, right?
> Then I show them the effect of wrapping them in a simple <html><body>
> ...   </body></html> wrapper, and adding <p> tags between paragraphs.

It's funny that back in the days before CMSs we accomplished the two
most important features they offer - separating the appearance of a site
from the content, and making it user friendly to add/edit content - with
some primitive tools that seem to have disappeared.

The first objective was accomplished with frames. And then later when
frames were shunned, with (Apache) server includes[1]. Server includes
didn't gain much traction, as they were quickly eclipsed by PHP, Cold
Fusion, ASP, Mason, and other templating languages, that offered much
more functionality, but usually at the expense of requiring a programmer
or "web designer."

The other objective was accomplished with GUI HTML editors. For a while
there, there were actually some decent competitors to Microsoft Front
Page, including a few open source tools[2]. As developers we hated most
of these (mostly Front Page) for the ugly HTML they generated, because
sooner or later we'd be faced with making modification to the HTML
outside the tool. These days the ugliness is still there, being
generated by most CMSs, we just don't have occasion to look at it.

The CMSs seem to have killed off the market for HTML editors, but it
looks like the successor to the Mozilla Composer is still being
updated[3]. I don't think there is any significant benefit to having
content producers learn HTML, if they can find a suitable HTML editor.

I imagine today with the help of CSS and something like server side
includes, you could create a pretty functional poor man's CMS, where
your non-technical content producer creates a new page by doing
something like:
1. create a new directory named after the content title.
2. copy some boilerplate files to the directory, which might include an
index.html with the server include directives, and an empty context.html
file. (Steps 1 and 2 could be implemented with a shell script.)
3. load the content.html file into their GUI HTML editor and add content.

The content then doesn't need to have any presentation markup. Headers,
footers, and navigation all come from the server includes, and can be
updated site-wide by editing in one place. Content styling comes from
the site-wide CSS included by the boilerplate index.html. The user only
has to concern themselves with the simple structural markup in content.html.



Tom Metro
The Perl Shop, Newton, MA, USA
"Predictable On-demand Perl Consulting."

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