We write a lot about Content Management Systems (CMS) because they are a core part of the value provided to our clients. Few clients want to call or email their changes in to a developer to get their website updated. Most want to be able to control the content of their site independently without learning arcane markup languages. The ability to do that is the strength of a good CMS combined with thoughtful website design. For this reason, every website we build rests on the foundation of a CMS. Which CMS to choose, however, depends on the purpose of the site and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various CMS.
Which is why we are excited about Craft. It came to our attention some time ago that Pixel & Tonic had begun work on their own CMS. Since they create outstanding plugins for the Expression Engine CMS, our expectations were high. We have not been disappointed.
Craft 1.0 was just released a week ago. It is clear that the relatively long development cycle and beta process has paid off in a polished first release. That alone speaks volumes. The administrative dashboard is clean, uncluttered, and designed with ease-of-use in mind. It is clear that the user interface was at the forefront of their priorities. Their technical support is built right into the dashboard, and in our case, response to questions was within two hours and right on target. Software updates are a one-click process.
A peek under the hood reveals even more goodies. Craft is built on one of the hottest new PHP frameworks – Yii. This framework is designed to be fast, both in execution and development time. Designed to be secure and reduces vulnerability to hacking. And built to encourage the writing of good solid code. The decision to move away from the outdated CodeIgniter framework, upon which Expression Engine is based, gives this CMS the longevity and flexibility we are looking for in a CMS. The templating engine for the site design uses Twig, with some enhancements. It requires a modern web and database server, so there are no ugly hacks to support old technology. Nothing looks like it was hastily put together, or not thought through.
That includes the licensing terms. Craft is not open source software, however, the core functionality can be used for free. Many sites will not need more than that. If you need more advanced capabilities, they offer packages that extend it as needed. Craft is designed to allow the creation of plugins, so third parties (like us) can also extend it. This way, you only buy the parts that you need, when you need them. We believe people should be compensated for their work, and these terms are quite fair. Enough said.
We could go on, but really, you just need to try it for yourself. Well done, Pixel & Tonic!