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Books Programming Book Reviews

CMS Made Simple 1.6 46

cnymike writes "CMS Made Simple 1.6: Beginner's Guide by Sofia Hauschildt, recently published by Packt Publishing, is intended for new users of the open source content management application, CMS Made Simple (CMSMS). True to its title, the book delivers in all respects and provides a solid foundation from which to grow as you explore the rich possibilities of building sites with CMS Made Simple. The author, Sofia Hauschildt, is a consultant, programmer, and tutor and has a gift for communicating in a straightforward, readable manner. The technical level of writing never exceeds that which could be easily understood by a neophyte. The book does assume that the reader has some knowledge of HTML and CSS." Read on for the rest of cnymike's review.
CMS Made Simple 1.6: Beginner's Guide
author Sofia Hauschildt
pages 364
publisher Packt Publishing
rating 9/10
reviewer cnymike
ISBN 1847198201
summary a practical, hands-on book based around a case study website
I was first introduced to CMS Made Simple five years ago. I had a need to begin the development of a CMS-based website, and over the years I have explored many products, including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Website Baker, e107, and a slew of other open source applications. After trying many, I settled on CMS Made Simple to build many of the sites because of its ease of installation and operation.

The available documentation for CMSMS has been sparse however. The CMSMS web site has a wiki and user forum, but the wiki is not always up-to-date or complete. The user forum is an option for getting technical problems or other questions answered, but it is not the best place to ask questions if you are truly a neophyte. There is an expectation that you have a certain fundamental understanding of how CMSs work. The developers have clearly stated that CMS Made Simple is geared to web developers and not so much to neophytes who need a lot of hand-holding and who need relatively basic questions answered.

This book is the much-needed introduction to CMSMS. The approach taken by the author is exactly the approach needed if you were explaining how to use something to someone who has absolutely no knowledge of it. The learning takes place via the construction of a "case study" web site. You are taught how to install CMSMS and then how to plan your site, beginning with the creation of pages and navigation. The author even takes the time to explain how to customize TinyMCE (the WYSIWYG editor) to the level you need.

The methodology used in this book is straightforward and effective. As each topic is introduced, you are told what you will accomplish. Next, the instructions for accomplishing the task are given with ample use of screenshots when needed. As you work through the task, you are given additional tips and suggestions that help you fully appreciate what you are doing. Once the task has been completed, you are then given a summary of what just happened. Pop quizzes appear throughout the book to test your knowledge of what you were just taught. This type of repetition is one of the reasons the book is so effective. It super-charges the learning process. You learn by doing.

The author goes into surprising detail on many topics that give you a depth of understanding that you otherwise would not get by just trying to learn by yourself. For instance, in Chapter 4 — Design and Layout, the author discusses in a very concise manner how the Smarty template engine works. Various examples of how to harness the power of Smarty are given and before you know it, you've learned a great deal about Smarty that will greatly assist you in ultimately designing your own templates or modifying templates from other sources. Furthermore, an excellent section devoted on how to adapt templates from other platforms to CMSMS gives you the skills needed to accomplish that task. Having this knowledge opens the door to being able to adapt the huge number of templates , both paid and free, to your use on a CMSMS installation.

Core Modules are the essential modules that come with the CMSMS package. You learn about how these modules function and how to modify them in ways that let you adapt them to your specific needs. The author also discusses a number of third-party modules that give you additional features such as a photo Gallery or Newsletter.

Later in the book, more advanced topics are introduced. Some of the topics include how to make multi-lingual websites, how to translate core and third-party modules into a different language and how to create additional page layout capabilities by using extra page attributes.

Leaving no stone unturned, the book also discusses SEO practices, canonical URL's, how to avoid duplicate page content issues such as when you incorporate printer-only versions of your pages and much more. It is really surprising how much information is packed in to this relatively slim book.

There are many instances of code in the book that you need to type as you work through the exercises. Since there is no CD of these code snippets included with the book, the author has thoughtfully made available from the publisher website, a zip archive of the code.

To my knowledge, there currently is no other introduction to using CMS Made Simple. This book should quite frankly be required reading to anyone thinking of building a website with CMSMS. It will greatly accelerate your ability to successfully install, build and deploy a website based on CMSMS. The book is completely efficient in the way the information is presented and will give you a well-rounded perspective on using CMSMS. The book is designed with beginners in mind but even someone who has worked with CMSMS for a few years is likely to discover nuggets in this book that will be beneficial to them. The one thing this book is not, however, is a reference book. It is better to be used as a tutorial.

I have more computer books in my bookshelf than I care to count but this book is what I would consider a top-shelf book. It is easily digested, amazingly comprehensive and the only book you really need to get up and running with CMS Made Simple.

You can purchase CMS Made Simple 1.6: Beginner's Guide from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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CMS Made Simple 1.6

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  • Updates since (Score:3, Informative)

    by baresi ( 950718 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:53PM (#32101810) Homepage
    For those interested it is at 1.7.1 right now []
  • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:55PM (#32101824)
    ...if you need a book?
    • by jra ( 5600 )

      "Prodigy for Dummies".

      Nuff said?

    • It isn't simple by default. It is made simple by reading the book, as you may have noticed if you bothered to read past the first word of the title.
      • by dingen ( 958134 )
        It's not the title of the book, it's the title of the CMS used. "CMS Made Simple" it's called, or CMSMS for short. Check it out for yourself [].
        • Oh, phew. After skimming the title of the summary (which, I think, still puts me ahead of most slashdotters), I was initially afraid that CMS stood for "CMS made simple"

    • Some people don't even know how to create a new folder on their desktop... for those people, they need a book. For us, it is so simple, it's actually a bit mind numbingly simple.

  • CMS? (Score:4, Funny)

    by confused one ( 671304 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:58PM (#32101882)
    I don't recall working with CMS on an IBM being all that difficult.
    • by cmacb ( 547347 )

      I wonder how many /.ers will get that any more.

      • Anyone who followed the SCO debacle will probably get it right away;
          that was my main exposure to IBM's version of RC.

        And I would guess a large proportion of ./'ers followed the whole SCO thing!

      • by EQ ( 28372 )

        I wonder how many /.ers will get that any more.

        About as many as know Rexx

      • I was going to make that joke myself, but he beat me to it.

    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      How hard could it be, the damn thing didn't use any IRQ or DMA, it only had a single jumper to set the address (default 220h).

    • I'll create a GUI interface using Visual Basic, see if I can track an IP address.

    • That's because the IBM version included that fancy control program that made everything easy.

    • I don't recall working with CMS on an IBM being all that difficult.

      You beat me to it. I was going to say I can't use CMS because I no longer have a 3270 terminal, so I use Drupal instead.

  • This reads to me like "download CMSMS and try it out" rather than a book review.
    • by lwsimon ( 724555 ) <> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:10PM (#32102092) Homepage Journal

      I got that idea as well. Having used CMSMS quite a bit, I'll say this: It is a solid system, but the core devs can be assholes. Very knowledgeable assholes, who write excellent code, but assholes nonetheless.

      The lack of documentation is astounding, and is why I left to write my own system in CodeIgniter, then on to Django. I read all available documentation, couldnt' figure out an issue, and asked in the IRC channel. I was told to read the documentation. I replied that I did, and it wasn't there -- their reply? "Then read the code comments. We're busy."

      Screw that.

      • Way to spread FUD....

        I've visited the IRC channel numerous times for support and every single time I've had friendly service. I'm convinced that you're lying as I've never seen anyone treated like that there. Also doesn't help your case that you drop names of other products....

        • by lwsimon ( 724555 )
          Want me to name names, then? One of the core devs, a Canadian, is well known for his attitude. As I said, he's a great dev and know his shit, he jsut lacks tact. WTF would I have to gain from promoting Django or CI? If I was trying to drop name, why wouldn't I drop the name of *my CMS*?
    • by oztiks ( 921504 )

      Dont worry, the concept that this is a book for "beginners" yet cites you need to have knowledge in basic CSS/HTML lost me.

      Isn't the point of a CMS a means to do away with these concepts?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by b0bby ( 201198 )

        My idea of a CMS is that you have someone set your site up for you the way you want it, and THEN it's simple to maintain - adding new pages, updating content etc. Getting the initial templates etc to look the way you want them, though, is usually not simple, and that's what it seems this book is covering. So - if you want to make CMSMS websites from scratch, you'd get this book. If you hired someone to make you a site & you're just keeping it up to date, you don't need the book or knowledge of CSS etc.

      • I can't speak for the author, but I think the book title might have more aptly been, "CMS Made Simple 1.6: An Introduction" rather than "...:Beginner's Guide." The CMS (content management system) itself, CMS Made Simple, is sufficiently simple enough that a beginner could easily produce a site with no knowledge of basic CSS/HTML. If you want to customize the template or output of the modules, then you will need to have knowledge of CSS/HTML and Smarty to accomplish that.
    • A couple points... This was my first submission to Slashdot and in fact my first experience with Slashdot. I did (do) not fully understand the audience on Slashdot. My writing style is a bit different than what you /.ers may be accustomed to. I tend to inject personal experience in reviews that I write. The comments thus far have enlightened me to how that may come off as me attempting to promote the "product" instead of just reviewing the book. Ultimately, my goal was simply to write a basic review of t
      • Sorry- I didn't mean to say that it was a bad review. I just got the overall impression that someone was trying to sell me on the CMS rather than the book. I think it was a very good review though.
  • The ultimate tool in allowing customers screw up their websites at a press of a button ...

  • Seriously, a "neophyte" knows CSS?

    Why didn't she just write it in Klingon. "A Neophyte can understand this... if they know Klingon."


  • From the programmer's point of view?
  • by sdnoob ( 917382 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:50PM (#32107442)

    We have been using CMS Made Simple exclusively for five years now. Pretty simple to administer and use for professional site developers (i.e. knows xHTML/CSS, knows their way around their server or hosting account, and can at least handle some simple PHP coding), but it's NOT for the brain-dead masses.


    On a side note.. It is refreshing to see something about a CMS package posted here other than Yet Another WordPress|Joomla Security Vulnerability.

  • Until the present moment I didn't still find a book of CM to explain the techniques of SEO in this platform type with depth. ___ Reinaldo Silva [] Brazil
  • There are some really simple CMS []s, compared to those this CMS looks really complicated... but simplicity standards in software are rather low this days :(

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.