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Nucleus Cms Review


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My biggest web design contract of the year needed a CMS system that met the following criteria:


1- Easy to use (of course)

2- Superadmin could edit all content

3- Contributor admins of lower permission level couldn't add, but could edit posts assigned to them

4- Admin didn't look like a control panel, but looked like the actual page that was being edited. They wanted low-tech worker bees to be able to edit without much brain power.


I wanted one that was as low cost as possible because any cost came out of my successful bid. Obviously I'm thinking opensource.


I tested out what I considered to be my three best possiblities. Here are the three and what I had heard about them prior to the test:


1- WordPress - yeah... it's blog software, but can work as a simple to use CMS. Easy to setup. Works great out of the box, and very,very, very low learning curve.


2- Drupal - powerful but high learning curve.


3- Nucleus CMS - I found this one on opensourcecms.org Even though it's listed as a cms at opensourcecms.org (Wordpress is listed as a blog), and it's name says cms, it's built for blogging first. I had no expectations going in. But their online demo looked promising and they got high ratings on opensourcecms.org (take it with a grain of salt)


As a side note, I didn't really consider Mambo for several reasons: security issues, past experience with it, and a recent comment at opensourcecms.org that indicated tables were STILL hardcoded into the core of the system even after years of requests from the Mambo community to change this.


WordPress looked promising, and still might be chosen by the client, although I doubt it. They really want something that you can edit without going to anything that resembles a control panel. Hey, that's their choice. My job is to make it happen.


Drupal... I can't remember if I've b*tched about this before but, in a nutshell, this thing is way too complicated. All this jargon about nodes, stories... etc. I spent many hours reading the poorly organized documentation online and still can't tell you the difference between a page and story, why an FAQ section should be built with a 'collaborative book', and what in the world a node is.


The deal killer for Drupal on this project was that their permission based system was confusing and didn't give people permission to edit but not post. I'll admit that this is a strange request... but again, my job to make the magic happen. I say the permission based system was confusing because you'd check a column of boxes indicating what they could and couldn't do and upon testing realize that what you had chosen wasn't being peformed in the background. Things my new user should be able to do they couldn't, and vice versa. A few trips to the online forum indicated that lots of people had this problem and the developers had the issue on their list of things to do.


On the bright side, Drupal (with the addition of a template plugin called phptemplate) gets templating 'right' in my opinion. I feel qualified to give my opinion on this templating issue because I have built my own cms for my clients and anyone with even a small degree of html experience can 'skin' my system in ten minutes and with uploading one file. (I'm not using my cms for this project for several reasons, but the biggest one is that mine does not have several levels of permission for different admins and probably never will. My client base doesn't need it.)


Finally, went to Nucleus CMS. Install was easy (as it was with all three). Documentation was horrible, horrible, horrible. Did I mention horrible? Outdated, scarce, poorly organized. The online forum was almost impossible to search and find relevant content.


If you're looking for 'fire and forget' this isn't it. You're gonna have to put in some sweat to learn how to 'skin' this sucker. Also, the admin isn't very intuitive. If you start getting into some of the advanced features of the system you have to really hunt around for the right page, because it's not on the side navigation. Once you figure it out, it's easy... but again, not clearly explained anywhere in the documentation (and I searched just about everywhere on the site).


But... once you figure out how to create a new 'skin'... and you figure out the difference between a skin and template, and why you can't find any template files anywhere in the directory structure, the system is very useful for the end user, my client.


When a lower level person (not admin or superadmin) logs in, they can go right to the live website, and if they created the post, they see a link at the top of the page/post to edit the page. Clicking the link pops open a nice editor (which can be upgraded to a WYSIWYG editor with an easy plugin). So, my client will be able to have their folks edit the content and see the changes right away.


I have to hack some code to assign ownership to people that didn't actually write the post/page so that they can edit it, but that's not a problem for me. So, this should turn out to be a great solution, and really easy for them to use.


One more thing I'll mention about Nuclueus CMS is that I have mixed feelings about their templating. On the one hand, it's very easy to make changes to a skin and to do something very nifty, called cloning. But the skins and templates are broken into fragments that you have to hunt down and change in the control panel.


I guess if you are uncomfortable with php and you just want a nice looking site, you would find it pretty easy to write your code, edit the default css, and you're off to the races. If you're like me and you want to write a template that's an html/php hybrid that you ftp to your site, then it's a bit of a letdown.


In truth, the abysmal documentation on their site is the biggest drawback to using Nucleus CMS. But now that I know how to use it, I'm glad to have this cms as another tool in the toolchest.

Edited by surefire
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Hi Jack! :dance:


As you probably remember (we talked about this several times) I totally agreed with you in respect to Drupal.


However, my opinion has radically changed in the last few days. I'm using Drupal at work and I'm completely astonished with it. Perhaps I never had this opinion because I never quite gave myself to the trouble of *really* reading the docs and *really* trying to do something... or perhaps I tried some older versions previous to 4.6.x which were not as good as the current ones.


But either way, I must say that Drupal is very powerfull, VERY well architectured and not so difficult to use as it seems at first.


And it also has a lot of modules that will help you do just about anything you need. For instance, my boss wanted exactly what you described: a user that could edit content but not post it. I was frying my brain, trying to figure out a way of doing that, I was even thinking and experimenting with modifying Drupal's own code until I went to #drupal-support on irc.freenode.org and asked around. This guy NateSac pointed me to the node privacy byrole module, which allowed me to do exactly what I wanted and much more. :)


This happened to me in a bunch of other similar situations: I had a specific goal which I didn't know how to achieve. I searched Google and Drupal's site and bang, there it was, a solution as simple as downloading a module, changing a little setting... :)


I don't know about that permissions-not-working problem you mentioned, I never experienced it and I also know that Drupal is not perfect but IMHO, it's probably the overall best CMS out there, right now. It's not very easy to pick up at first but it has very good documentation (give it another look, Jack. They've revamped the whole handbooks section of the site) and you "just" need to spend some time reading it.


I also found it much easier to learn new stuff about Drupal by having some real goals, instead of just installing it on my local machine and trying to figure out how it works. By having specific goals to achieve, I could focus on learning how to do that instead of losing myself in a bunch of modules and documentation that used to deviate me from my path.


Chat me some time on ICQ and we can talk more about it :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is one more nod (instead of node?) for Drupal. I run two sites using Drupal. It is amazing what I've been able to get done with it. I agree that the language is odd, but once you get past that one issue, it is a really flexible option. As Raul highlighted, modules take care of most everything that the core does not.


And by the way, think of a node as any unique content you put on a site. So a blog entry is a node. And an image you upload is also a node.





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One of the things that Drupal has which is a great idea is that there's only one table for the content (nodes). How do you store different types of contents, then? Well, I can't say for sure, because I haven't investigated that deep yet but as far as I can tell, the "node" table (where every content is stored) has a "body" column, which is filled with a serialized object - pure genious, IMO! :)


That way you can create any kinds of content (an object derived from the 'node' object provided by Drupal) and not worry about DB tables to store it, because Drupal already has them in place! :)


By the way, Jack, the other day when I came back online, you were gone. I think I took more than 15 minutes to get to work, sorry :\

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  • 4 years later...

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