CMS Made Simple is the CMS I seem to have a love-hate relationship with. I first started dabbling in it around mid-2007. I was immediately taken with the fact that it’s so easy to create your design and plop it into the CMS. There’s even a famous video illustrating just how to do it. Your 15 year old can have an HTML template ported to CMSMS in under 15 minutes.
But (and you knew there was a “but,” right?) it’s not without its pitfalls and shortcomings, as I’ve learned over the years. Several times I’ve given up and thrown in the towel vowing never to touch it again. But I do come back. Because there are just some things it does better than WordPress.
One of those things is the User Uploads module. I’ve never seen any WordPress plugin even come close to doing what this thing can do. I even wrote a blog post about the difficulty in finding a replacement for it when I ported Idylwood.org from CMSMS to WordPress last fall. And I am having that same issue this year moving ParkwauUD.org.
I do tend to recommend CMSMS for non-profits and some small businesses if their site requirements are fairly simple and they don’t need a full fledged blog. The News module is fine for news updates without the ability to comment (although that can be woven in, and CMSMS does have the CGBlog module). Our position is that if you want to blog, we’ll use WordPress. CMSMS’s strength lies in its very user-friendly backend.
The other maddening thing about CMS Made Simple is that it’s heavily dependent on having cutting edge hosting. If your version of PHP or MYSQL are two or more versions back, chances are you’ll have trouble running CMS Made Simple, which is a shame if you are a non-profit, because they are usually on tight budgets and don’t have the funds for state of the art hosting.
Take CMSMS 2.0, which is still in Beta. I cannot even test it on either of my hosting platforms because neither of them is running PHP 5.4. How absurd is that? And there’s been a huge rift between a couple of former CMSMS developers and the rest of the development team, or at least its ringleader. The disagreement stems from the desire to move CMSMS 2.0 forward, but not rushing things to development that aren’t yet ready. Goran Ilic, one of those former CMSMS developers, walked away in frustration rather than be a part of a half-assed release that will frustrate users and developers alike and drive folks away from CMSMS rather than to it.
What will the future hold for CMSMS? That remains to be seen. It will depend on how elegantly CMSMS 2.0 is rolled out, and the users’ reaction to it, how fraught it is with problems (as new releases can be), and how quickly and efficiently the devs deal with those issues. Simple? Hardly.
Joni Mueller has been designing web sites for hire since 2003, when she first blew up her web host’s server by insisting on running Greymatter. Since then, Joni has designed for Blogger and Movable Type, TextPattern, WordPress and CMS Made Simple. She lives with her cat and shoe collection in a bucolic old section of Houston called Idylwood. For some strange reason, Joni likes to refer to herself in the third person. When she’s not working on web design, she’s ordering lawyers around. And blogging about it. Or both.