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Where are all the decent PHP CMSes?

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 18 January 2011.
Planet PHP

I've been recently asked to check out some CMSes for someone, and try to find a recommendation. What I've been finding hasn't really been encouraging. Out of the several CMSes I've tried, they've all failed for various reasons. I admit that I might be looking at this from a slightly different perspective than most - that of admining it and coding against it, rather than as a user - but it's still rather disappointing.

  • Silverstripe is what I used first - but the forms (including the login to the admin) kept failing to render. In the end, I got sick of debugging it and started my hunt.
  • Next up was Concrete5, which I heard mentioned recently. There were one hundred and fifty-five strict warnings in the front page of the installer. Bye bye.
  • Next, CMS Made Simple. Its installer wanted E_STRICT and E_DEPRECATED removed from error reporting. At this point some folk might have continued; but that was enough for me not to consider it. I didn't have enough confidence in the code that I wanted to continue. It lost more points for the tarball not extracting into a subdirectory, which resulted in my document root being filled with nonsense.
  • Joomla!... well, my last experience of it wasn't pleasant - I couldn't work out how the code was structured. It's also overkill for the requirements of this site.
  • I would love to go for Habari, but the site isn't a blog, so it doesn't really fit the use case. It's still the top of the list just now, though.
  • I could do what everyone else does and run Wordpress - but, again, the site isn't a blog, and I'd rather try something different.

I didn't consider Drupal or eZ Publish, which again I believed to be massive overkill for what is required of the site. What's going on? This is what PHP is supposed to be good at. Where are the simple, lightweight CMSes with modern code? Notices, strict and deprecation warnings should be considered errors when developing - this doesn't seem to be the case with many of the above projects.

So, that's what I've found. I now don my asbestos suit.