Monday, June 7, 2010

Ruby on Rails customizable CMS

As mentioned in a previous post, I'm staging my coming-out-of-the-ruby-on-rails-closet party with the rewriting of my scheduling system, Chex. The system was coded from scratch on python/django on the Google App Engine. One of the things I didn't like about the original application was the fact that the static content was tightly coupled to the functionality of the application. My experience with this blog and my website is that it is much simpler to update the content using specialized systems. Especially as I program in many different languages, if I want to quickly change some presentation aspects and my day programming job does not include that language, I don't want to be fiddling with code, sticking semicolons where they don't belong!

My initial googling returned several possible options I could use, including Radiant, BrowserCMS, ... Here's a dated list of the top 20. I found overall that there were a handful that were mature in the classic CMS sense (coming from someone who's website runs on Joomla!) and off course plenty that were experimental and flaky. I'll leave the critique to others.

This evaluation process got me thinking about what a CMS is and what I was really after. I needed to do registration, authentication and quickly managing static content. I also needed something that would drop into my application. After reading an insightful article on how Rails + Plugins effectively equated a CMS, I'm feeling upto the challenge for creating a DIY which hopefully can become reusable in time.

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