The inflexibility of a typical CMS …

Chatting with Julien in this evening’s class made me think a bit: I was explaining some of the issues I’ve encountered trying to bend Joomla to my will, and as a side note asked what he was working on. His response about working on Django led to a broader discussion on the balance between a CMS vs a framework – greater efficiency with the former, but a lot more flexibility with the latter.

My System Plan aimed to lead to an expansion of my existing site with a variety of applications, keeping WordPress but adding RSS feeds, Flickr plug-ins and automated navigation. Whilst this is great in the “plug-and-play” sense, it’s really about bolting a lot of square pegs into square holes: they all fit nicely, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you can change the pegs.

Not sure if this is making sense past midnight, but the conclusion I seem to be heading to in my report is that my needs are best served by a framework, which is the main lesson I have learnt from DMT this semester.

One thought on “The inflexibility of a typical CMS …

  • October 22, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Hi Ian,

    past midnight seems just fine – you’re making perfect sense 🙂

    I’ve been using Django for my project, so I was interested to read your post.

    I’ve only spent the briefest of time playing with Joomla, so I’m not sure of its restrictions, but it seemed pretty comprehensive in functionality.

    The obvious point is that it’s going to take a bit longer initially to do a custom job with a framework, but you’re going to reap big rewards if you ever need to extend your site beyond cookie-cutter functionality. That said, it’s still not an easy decision – I’ve seen a couple of sites built in Joomla that seem to do everything they need to do just fine, and might have been cheaper to build than if they’d been using a framework.

    This year I’ve investigated a few frameworks, used cakePHP for a small project for myself, played with Ruby on Rails, and have been spending a fair bit of time in Django over the past few weeks.

    I’m not a developer by profession, so my perspective is of the trade-off between ease of use and power for someone with isn’t a complete code freak.

    Out of the three frameworks, I prefer Django. cakePHP is easier to set up, but I found it a bit clunky in spots. Ruby on Rails seemed pretty good, but I found the intial learning curve tough and didn’t get too far. Django takes a while to get your head around, but once you get over the initial hump the productivity gains are spectacular. The degree of functionality and flexibility in Django’s back-end admin components, in particular, is amazing and an immense time-saver.

    I’ve really glad that I’ve taken the time to have a go at Django, I think it’s a time investment that will pay off well in the future. The one caution I would give (which applies to Ruby on Rails as well) is that you need to use a webhosting service that is experienced in hosting Django sites. Deployment can be a little tricky the first time around.

    Sorry about the long comment! Just to finish off, from a user-experience perspective Django was more fun than other back-end technologies I’ve tried. I always think the “fun metric” is a good guide…


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