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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977


Designer CMS on Rails

Paul Jarvis (of twothir­ty fame) and I have been dis­cussing an idea over the last few days, cen­tered around this con­cept: many design­ers (espe­cial­ly those who, like us, believe in and evan­ge­lize web stan­dards for our projects, and care about build­ing user-friend­ly inter­faces) bemoan the absence of a CMS that meets the fol­low­ing requirements:

So we start­ed chat­ting about this prob­lem in more detail, since the only solu­tions either of us have found thus far (for projects requir­ing a CMS) is to cre­ate some­thing from scratch (time-con­sum­ing if you are a pro­gram­mer or have one on your team, and usu­al­ly expen­sive if you choose/need to hire a devel­op­er — for design­ers with no pro­gram­ming knowl­edge, the lat­ter is almost always the case), attempt to cus­tomize one of the many open source CMS projects (which seem to have a long way to go), or hack/bend/twist blog-ori­ent­ed sys­tems (which is a less-than-ele­gant approach on many lev­els) such as Word­Press, Textpat­tern or Mov­able­Type.

After agree­ing on the poor state of the CMS union, we decid­ed that some­thing needs to be built from the ground up to tar­get these spe­cif­ic require­ments, as well as some oth­ers, including:

Paul and I dis­cussed a com­bi­na­tion of Rails and AJAX as the per­fect com­pan­ions to web stan­dards, and since nei­ther of us are seri­ous devel­op­ers (we can both do a few fan­cy things with PHP, but that does­n’t real­ly count for a project of this scope), I decid­ed it would be inter­est­ing to find out what I could about the Rails world — being a front-end design­er, I haven’t yet been able to ded­i­cate enough time to Rails to real­ly under­stand how to use it, though that’s still on my list (espe­cial­ly after using Base­camp and now Back­pack so suc­cess­ful­ly, such great exam­ples of the frame­work have me sold on its ben­e­fits com­plete­ly). A brief dis­cus­sion with David Heine­meier Hans­son about poten­tial Rails devel­op­ers result­ed in a short descrip­tion of the con­cept on a pub­lic Back­pack page (what else?) which David was kind enough to pub­li­cize on the Rails blog, with the hopes of gen­er­at­ing inter­est from one or more developers.

Is this a project that inter­ests you, either as a user or a con­trib­u­tor? Are you a Rails or AJAX devel­op­er inter­est­ed in col­lab­o­rat­ing with a few of the bet­ter design­ers with­in the web stan­dards world to design and devel­op an answer to this miss­ing-link in the web stan­dards devel­op­ment toolbox?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, com­ments, con­cerns, ideas, and any­thing else I’ve left out if you care to share them — I’d love to see this done in Rails, espe­cial­ly as Rails is pick­ing up speed and pop­u­lar­i­ty day by day, and this kind of project (whether even­tu­al­ly sold or pure­ly dis­trib­uted for the greater good) would both ben­e­fit from the press Rails is receiv­ing as well as add to it.

This item was posted by Dan Rubin on Friday, June 10th, 2005.


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63 comments on “Designer CMS on Rails”

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  1. Posted by HybridIndie on Wednesday, September 14th, 2005.

    I am a Rails devel­op­er and a stan­dards based design­er. I start­ed out as a devel­op­er in my ear­ly years and real­ized that devel­op­ers only want to get the prod­uct done with­out con­cern for the user. Hence, in my opin­ion why there real­ly isn’t a good over-all CMS pack­age out there. I start­ed Post­ed about a month ago and the app is begin­ning to mature enough to be usable. The main goal ini­tial­ly was a web engine for myself to be eas­i­ly cus­tomiz­able via CSS (I get bored with my per­son­al site quick­ly and want­ed to eas­i­ly be able to change it). The goal is almost real­ized and would love input from users even con­tri­bu­tions to the designs (why have themes when you can just replace a style-sheet) Work is pro­gress­ing quick­ly, cur­rent goals are sta­t­ic pages, cus­tomiz­able side­bars, and a cache con­troller for a lit­tle bit of a speed boost. Check a demo out at beta.hybridindie.com under­stand that the lay­out is very min­i­mal specif­i­cal­ly for devel­op­ment, but I am run­ning my per­son­al site with it as well, and does not sup­port IE due to my use of PNG24 for images. (get with it MS) but obvi­ous­ly that com­pat­i­bil­i­ty could be rec­ti­fied easily.

  2. Posted by Jukka-Pekka Keisala on Saturday, October 1st, 2005.

    I have been look­ing for years good PHP CMS with­out find­ing one. Pre­vi­ous­ly I post­ed about ex-Mam­bo devel­op­ers who are now known as Joom­la!. Seems like Joom­la devel­op­ers are now clean­ing up their code to meet Acces­si­bil­i­ty and Stan­dards Com­pli­ance. There is also AJAX frame­work under devel­op­ment. I think there might be com­ing up some­thing intrest­ing in ver­sion 1.2 (prob­a­bly spring 2006).
    Check out Forum in Joom­la! site if you are intrested.

  3. Posted by Tuten on Thursday, October 6th, 2005.

    I am inter­est­ed, I keep com­ing across your posts through­out my search for a ruby on rails cms that might replace a php­nuke instal­la­tion i have. 

    I am real­ly look­ing for a sleek por­tal with many inter­ac­tive fea­tures all wrapped in a sim­ple, con­sis­tent wrap­per with reg­is­tra­tion that would allow users to func­tion as if they were in a php­nuke istal­la­tion but much, much simpler. 

    I am afraid my pro­gram­ming skills are just short of use­less, although I am putting togeth­er an RFP for such a pro­gram that might be of ben­e­fit to you. The app I am look­ing to devel­op would be broad enough to be applic­a­ble for many uses. 

    If you are inter­est­ed in see­ing the direc­tion I am pur­su­ing, let me know.

  4. Posted by Liz on Friday, October 28th, 2005.

    I have been using Typo (http://typo.leetsoft.com) for maybe two months now, and real­ly, it’s the best CMS I’ve used so far. Since its writ­ten in ROR, it’s incred­i­bly easy fid­dle around with (the lan­guage and orga­ni­za­tion of files is very straight­for­ward). It is also filled with nifty AJAX things for live search­ing and com­ment pre­views and such. It is very easy to set up, it has a *very* sim­ple themes engine…no crazy tem­plate lan­guage to mem­o­rize. It already has import­ing scripts for MT, WP, and TXP, too. So yeah, I’d rec­om­mend Typo as a won­der­ful ROR CMS solution.

  5. Posted by assente on Friday, October 28th, 2005.

    I don’t want to talk about a yet anoth­er cms, but Dru­pal is an extreme mod­u­lar cms.
    http://www.drupal.org it’s php but a port of it could be a good point to start

  6. Posted by Kim Fransman on Sunday, October 30th, 2005.

    in reply to Liz.

    I dont cat­e­go­rize typo as a CMS , for me that is a blog­ging engine

  7. Posted by Simon on Sunday, October 30th, 2005.

    We built one too. It’s grown over the last cou­ple years and includes cart, gallery, mail­er, forums and more. Much clean­er and eas­i­er to use than oth­er stuff we’ve looked at using (espe­cial­ly once we’ve got­ten rid of the darn WYSIWYG edi­tor). It’s in PHP but we’ve been think­ing about a fresh new Rails rewrite. Not GPL’d as yet but con­sid­er­ing going that way. Any­one else start­ed? If so hows it going? Can we help?

  8. Posted by Sagem Hosting on Thursday, February 2nd, 2006.

    I Think the best Open Source CMS is joomla…

  9. Posted by credits report on Sunday, February 5th, 2006.

    im going to use cms but which one? which one is the best?

  10. Posted by Erik Mallinson on Friday, April 14th, 2006.

    Dru­pal sim­ply rocks. Being a design­er and cre­at­ing Dru­pal sites for three years now, I have to say that it’s real­ly, real­ly hard to look else­where. PHPTem­plate (a them­ing engine) is pret­ty straight for­ward to cre­ate designs for. There are some things that take a while to get, and some things that def. need improve­ment. But Dru­pal is bril­liant­ly built. So why did I land at this post? 

    I’m one of those “designer/programmers who are new to ruby and want a cms” … like Drupal.

    If you’re look­ing to do it right, look at how Dru­pal works.

  11. Posted by Ale on Saturday, June 24th, 2006.

    Eribi­um is a cms new one the scene. It’s an easy-to-use, full fea­tured, extendible con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem built with Ruby on Rails. Web 2.0 fea­tures includ­ing: rss, tags, ajax ‘quick’ edit­ing, gmail style spell check­er and over­lays. It’s in active devel­op­ment so any fea­tures you want, just ask. There’s a demo here.

  12. Posted by Jeromy on Friday, June 30th, 2006.

    Not sure if this one has been not­ed — but it looks pret­ty good and they stole their design from basecamp


  13. Posted by Yuval Ararat on Tuesday, August 1st, 2006.

    For the time been mak­ing a Joom­la web­site in the cur­rent ver­sion is very easy when you get the admin­is­tra­tion and the rela­tions of it to the web­site apearance.
    It is easly cus­tomiz­able with no pro­gram­ming knowledge.
    and if you use the exten­tions that are avail­able you get a decent result in a very quick time.
    i have done a dec­o­rat­ed cacke site in hebrew in a 2 nights period
    look here and see.
    i most­ly edit­ed the images and added con­tent in the administration.
    the gallery is an expose gallery.
    to edit it you get a very nice tool.
    so in no time i got a site up.
    thogh Joom­la! is not for an elab­o­rate sites and is more sutible to small scale sites.

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