open source cms


I installed Mambo recently. I’ve known about Mambo for awhile and never actually used it. The biggest reason I put off trying it was because I didn’t like the demo. A good demo is crucial in providing your audience with all the possibilities of your software. If I see a demo that I don’t like, I figure it might not be worth installing. Remember that I’m a complete hack and a non-programmer so I don’t see the possibilities like a coder might. I look at what the script looks like out of the box and realize my site will look very close to this if I choose to use it. Thanks to the development of all this open source (and commercial) software that’s become so user friendly, all of us regular people can launch site after site with nothing but an idea, a host, and a domain.

So back to Mambo. I installed it via Fantastico, logged into the admin area and poked around a bit. I was really impressed with all the options. This software is so built out and completely dumbed down that it really is the ideal framework for someone like me. The menus are deep and you can control just about everything right from the administration area. Mambo was made for site owners like me…but unfortunately, it’s still not enough to win me over.

I’m as picky as it gets when it comes to the look and feel of a site. I like white space, symmetry, a clean look, balanced content, and overall attractiveness. Mambo just doesn’t do it for me aesthetically. There are hundreds of templates out there which gave me hope that I could still have the wondeful functionality of Mambo while leaving the default look behind. Unfortunately, not one template caught my eye. Not one. The Mambo template market is apparently not like WordPress where you can find just about any design style imaginable. All the Mambo templates I saw had that same boxy look to them. Maybe how it was coded makes it less flexible to independent template designers, but somehow they all looked eerily similar in one way or another.

Although Mambo is not for me based on appearance, it may be ideal for you if you disagree with my style preference. I’d say if you like the default look or can find a template you can really connect with, then Mambo might be a fantastic piece of software to explore. If you have a Mambo site and love it’s look, feel free to post a link in a comment. I’d be interested to see what’s being used out there and if I’ve missed out on a part of the Mambo template market that I would actually embrace.


modxI installed Modx back in November to give it a try. Ever since the install I’ve had an empty draft of this post hanging around because I really didn’t know what to write. I’ll leave this one up to someone else to explain because apparently it is not simple enough for a hack like me to understand quickly. So let me get this disclaimer out of the way right off the bat.

Warning: You will not learn a single thing in this post. You may even lose intelligence if you choose to read on any further. Please continue at your own risk.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, here’s what I got out of my brief time with Modx. It seems like a framework for programmers to me. The install was easy. I tried to view the site but nothing was there. Apparently you have to build just about everything, so I logged into the administration area and created a page. Since the only code I can hack together is archaic html, that’s what I tested it with, and the result of that was the only output I got. Pretty boring. I could have done that without Modx which makes me believe that I did not give myself enough time to unlock a few doors within Modx. I’m too impatient….way too impatient.

If there are non-programmers out there who have figured out something that I missed, please pass it along and share what you know. I might have no idea I’m missing something great because I’m always eager to move on to the next thing before I’ve given the one in front of me a fair shake. Can this software be used right after the install, or is there no such thing as “out of the box” with Modx?

Dragonfly Open Source CMS Software

[ad name=”200x200all”]

DragonflyCMS was a piece of software I ran on my oldest site for nearly two years. When I stumbled on to this site and decided to finally install it, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the options in the admin section, but I was also determined to figure out what it all meant. It took me a couple weeks straight to become familiar with all the options, but when that few weeks was over, I felt comfortable and confident with administering a very well developed content management system.

Initially I liked the look and feel of the expandable and customizable blocks, and the very square appearance of the two included themes, default and dragonfly. When you install a script like this and decide to build a site around it, you really have to be sure you’re happy with the look and feel, especially if you’re a non-programming hack like me. Since it was also the most time I had ever spent learning the minute details of a content management back end, I was on board to build my site around the DragonflyCMS framework.

After about a year with the software my happiness started to wane and my interest in continuing to grow with DragonflyCMS was on the decline. I can’t blame that all on Dragonfly as I’m a bit flighty when it comes to new open source software. I have to give credit due where it is deserved as it kept me going strong for at least an entire year. It just became harder and harder to get excited when I was finding all these new open source content management systems out there. Another thing that didn’t help was that the script seemed to be popular with the young gamer type of website owner and that was far from the look I was shooting for.

One thing that left an impression on me was the community. I have been either a member or a lurker of many different communities in my time, and the DragonflyCMS community gave off this bitchiness that left a bad taste in my mouth. I certainly don’t mean to collectively group everyone in the community as being nasty or cranky because there were some truly helpful people there, but there were also enough snide remarks and cattiness from users and moderators alike to leave a long lasting impression.

I think DragonflyCMS was a fantastic jumping off point for getting my feet wet with a fairly substantial CMS. It just didn’t have the staying power for me to stick with it for the long haul. Have a look at  the front page where you can select between the two themes that come with the software in the lower right block. It’ll give you a good idea if the look and feel is something worth implementing on your own website.