A collection of computer systems and programming tips that you may find useful.
 
Brought to you by Craic Computing LLC, a bioinformatics consulting company.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Radiant CMS

I just redesigned my web site and coded it up using Radiant CMS, a Rails-based Content Management System. I'm pleased with the result but the process was not totally pain-free. So here are some thoughts on the system that might be helpful to others.

Although Radiant is built with Rails, you are not coding up pages in Views like a regular application. Instead you use the Admin interface to your site and create pages using a web form. Those pages are stored in a database. You can code in regular HTML, Markdown, Textile, etc. Using a web browser is convenient but I found it tedious to edit compared to a real editor like Emacs or TextMate. In particular I missed the ability to quickly jump between pages and to search for text across all pages.

I made the mistake of starting with their example web site and morphing it to the one I wanted. Next time I would start with a blank site and build out my pages from scratch.

Radiant's documentation is bad - sorry, but it is. They really need getting started guides that explain how you really go about building a modest site - something more than the equivalent to 'hello world'. The system includes a range of Radiant tags which allow you to loop through, for example, news items, blog comments, etc. I used a few of these but not many. There are also a series of Radiant extensions for blog comments, slide shows, etc. The documentation on how to build these appears to be better than the core docs.

Pros:
- Easy to install the code, whether or not you know Rails
- Web interface is simple once you get the hang of it
- You can code in Markdown, etc., not just HTML
- Extensions and Tags can save a lot of work
- Using a web interface makes it easier to collaborate with others

Cons:
- Inability to edit pages directly is a pain if you are used to doing that
- The system expects you to know HTML and CSS, so it's not for complete novices
- Documentation is not good and needs more examples

Deploying the system to a hosted server (Slicehost) was fairly straightforward using Capistrano and Rake. But your server has to have MySQL and Rails installed. It could be useful to generate a version of the live site that consists of purely static pages.

Because it is Rails-based you can deploy Radiant sites to Heroku, which could be very useful for some users. I tried this and was almost successful. The deployment part was working after a few issues but it was screwing up pages due to a stupid CRLF (linefeed) translation problem. Heroku has the potential to make deployment very easy *but* it acts as a black box such that when something goes wrong you are out of luck. In my case Slicehost just seemed to be a better bet.

15 comments:

Jim said...

Try "script/extension install help" and it'll give you some docs in the interface (http://github.com/saturnflyer/radiant-help-extension/tree/master)

There definitely needs to be more examples out there, but we'll be working on them.

cms design said...

Thanks for the posts we are the professional web design and development company offering an array of services like template customization,web designing, CMS solutions, eCommerce solutions, Search engine optimization and Internet marketing.
WEBSITE CMS

brinkka said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I think I will leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
By : http://www.factspenisenlargement.com

website design said...

Very brilliant ideas and tips on radiant CMS, I was getting confused on this issue but your post really helped me.Thanks so much.
website design

Omega softwares said...

It was very useful for me. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to came here! Thanks for sharing the such information with us. CMS Website Design || CMS Website Developer || CMS website development company

Omega softwares said...

Excellent post, I agree with you 100%! I’m always scouring the Internet for new information and learning whatever I can, and in doing so I sometimes leave comments on blogs. Web Designing || Web Designing in Mumbai || Website Maintenance

Omega softwares said...

Thanks for nice post. It is complicated to me now, but in typical, the efficiency and significance is annoying. Very much thanks again and best of luck!Thanks for sharing. Website Maintenance in Mumbai || Website Development || Website Development in Mumbai

Omega softwares said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me. Dynamic Website Designing || Dynamic website Designing in Mumbai || Ecommerce website Designing

Omega softwares said...

Nice Posting! because there are a lot of informative postings so, thanks a lot for sharing the information. Ecommerce website Designing in Mumbai || Ecommerce Solution || Ecommerce Solution in Mumbai

Capanicus said...

Nice Post CMS Website Development Company

Cado Magenge said...

Thanks a lot for your information , really a nice post looking forward for more.
website design melbourne | custom web development Melbourne | mobile application development melbourne

Zinavo Bangalore said...

The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lot of great information which can be helpful in some or the other way. Keep updating the blog, looking forward for more contents...Great job, keep it up..Web Design Companies | Website Development Company Bangalore

Bangalore Web Guru said...

Thanks for the very informative blog and I extremely grateful that you perform this piece of writing very simply, I mean to say that it's quite simple to read and understand. Bangalore Web Design Company | Website Development Bangalore

Tabassum M said...

It looks good, but I would like to suggest change the background color and make it bit brighter.

Mumbai web designers | website maker in Mumbai | Mumbai website developers

Azhar Nisar said...

It can be employed for both commercial and non-profit usage. For best and cheap manual Seo services, Web designings. Must check Web Design Bangalore

Archive of Tips