03 Feb

WebME goes GPL

Bloody fantastic.

We (webworks.ie) have a CMS engine that we’ve worked on for the last few years. It has a number of features that make it very simple for designers to use, and for end-users to administrate.

However, a lot of our rivals (or “fellow web developers” (whichever is friendlier 🙂 ) ) tend to use ready-built CMS engines such as Mambo, which have also been developed over years, by a community of open source hackers.

Our dilemma was that we much prefer our in-house CMS for many reasons, but as we basically only have three programmers in-house (and I’m the only strictly-programming-only one), it is difficult to keep up with the growing demand for new features.

So, the choice was difficult – to either start learning the ins and outs of Mambo so we could use its services and hack it to fullfil our own needs, or we could release our own CMS code into the wild and see if we can build a community around it to help develop it into the mature, easy-to-use system that I envisage it becoming.

We decided to release it. Tonight, I will do a spring clean of our “stable” branch, and release that code, with some documentation on what needs to be done to set it up (very little) for your site.

I am hoping that this will spark off a small community of hackers – there are some features I would love to see built into this, that will really set your minds on fire.

So – the existing features that come to mind are:

  • User creation, with some configurable “rights” mechanisms to restrict the actions that a user can perform.
  • Easy page creation, with the ability to hide pages from the navigation, to create “related links”.
  • A built in formatting engine that uses a similar system to the textism one. It was developed around the same time, so the ideas don’t really overlap, but it should be easy to understand (our clients have no problems).
  • Very simple templating system for designers. Basically, they would just create a html page, and put a marker (“content goes here”, “navigation goes here”) in the html, and the engine will do the rest.
  • The system is designed with standards and accessibility in mind. There is a JavaScript detection method in use in it, so you can use JavaScript if need be, while also providing a non-JavaScript version for those people that do not have it enabled (or search engines, etc).
  • Easy image uploading facility which automates resizing, thumbnail creation, captions and alternative text.
  • Simple table creation. For “matrix” type tables, there is one administration area, and there is an mini-application for building more complex tables that have non-simple input methods (combo-boxes, images, etc).
  • Form creation, with checks for required items, etc.
  • A whole lot more…

I’m really excited about this! I hope any readers will give me criticism (positive or negative) after you try it. I’ll update this post when I have it ready for download.