….meeping about web design and stuff.
Getting on with the design for the new online Transit, I’ve been looking at CMSs that are specifically for online magazine/newsletters. WordPress, once again seems to win hands down, with at least three themes that are suitable. I’ve looked at a standalone Drupal spin-off called Prosepoint, but its still in beta and lacks a lot of features; also it still has a Drupal backend, and I really couldn’t get to grips with Drupal when I was trying it out earlier this year. (Ironically, the Prosepoint site appears to have copied a popular WP layout.) Joomla probably has a magazine skin, but it’s an application that I’ve not taken to at all – the backend is needlessly complex and customising any part of it is grindingly slow. Plus, it has surprisingly few CSS-only W3C-compliant themes.
So I’m sticking with what I know – WordPress. Not that any of their magazine themes has proved all that easy to customise – it is still basically a blogging application, although great strides are being taken with turning it into a full-fledged CMS. The latest version comes with all sorts of bells and whistles that, while undoubtedly useful, are making it steadily more complicated.
I’ve been using WordPress since version 1.1 – you can see what that was like here; making your own custom theme then just meant playing around with the single stylesheet. Now WP themes themselves are getting far more complex and I’m seeing signs of WordPress ‘forks’ developing; for instance, one of the magazine skins I’m considering comes with it’s own structure theme that you have to install first. Not much of a step from there to a separate standalone application, ala Prosepoint.
In fact, I can see a real demand for these open-source online magazine and newspaper applications, now that print newspapers are in decline. People are getting used to reading their newspapers online – more and more people will want to put out online newsletters and magazines. And they won’t want just flat, online copies of print papers, they’ll demand interactive content – commenting on articles, plenty of links, video content and so on. It would be fun if the online Transit were like that – but, hmmm, would the greybeards want it that way?
But anyway, I’ll get on with pushing one part (at least) of the Astrological Association into the Web3.0-enabled 21st century. That’s if they’ll let me.

I’ve not been posting for a while – my knee ligament has decided once again that it doesn’t want to play any more. Additionally, the car has been off the road for the last week, being prepared for MOTting and taxing. So I’ve been pretty much housebound all this time – I can just about limp around the block to see the neighbours – and dealing with the nagging low-level pain (which is easing considerably now, thank the Whatever). And getting very bored – even sitting at the comp is getting boring.
However, I am still trying out various CMSs and having some success with a couple of them. CMS Made Simple is a winner as afar as I’m concerned. It’s small and lightweight; there’s a range of modules for common stuff like galleries, calenders and forums; a good range of skins is available and if you don’t like any of them, you can simply take your own HTML template and drop in tags for the various elements – ‘head’, ‘content’, ‘menu’, etc. For a designer, that last one is a real plus; I’ve struggled for hours with the complexities of customising Joomla and Drupal and have so far got pretty much nowhere.
OK, CMSMS probably isn’t so suitable for big community sites, so I’ll still have to carry on struggling with Joomla. But it will certainly do for the small personal sites that I would like to concentrate on.

Anyway, I’ll try to come up with something more interesting to write about soon.

I’ve spent the last three days doing almost nothing but test out various Open Source CMS packages.
Fot a long time, I’ve been thinking of using CMS for the WordPress. I’ve used WordPress for over five years for my blog; it’s very flexible, extremely customisable and it can be used as a CMS. However, getting it to work for a pure directory site requires more hacking and template rewriting than I’m prepared to do. So, with great reluctance, I’ve had to abandon WordPress for that particular project.
of the programs I’ve tried so far, only three stand out for me – Drupal, e107 and CMS Made Simple.
Both Drupal and e107 are in the running for the Oakleaf Circle site – they’re well-supported, have lots of modules and plugins and have fairly intuitive admin interfaces. e107 is the easiest to operate, but Drupal has completely customisable stylesheets (which is what a CSS maven like me demands), plus more themes. So I’ll be playing around with both of them for a bit longer.
I’m impressed with CMS Made Simple – it does what it says. Very much suited to small personal sites (although there are modules for blogs and forums), it’s easy to operate and highly customisable. I won’t be using it for Oakleaf, but it’s certainly what I’ll use for clients who ask for a CMS.