5 Reasons to Use SilverStripe For Your Next CMS

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Introduction

I know from personal experience that when I begin a web project it’s so easy to choose a Content Management System (CMS) that I’m already familiar with. Even more so, it’s easy for me to reach for the popular choice that’s already well established. Many times this reasoning works the best. In the past, I’ve tinkered around with Drupal, Joomla and WordPress, amongst a few others. All of them have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Recently, I’ve had a chance to give SilverStripe a test drive. While it’s not perfect, it is brilliantly developed and easy to use. In this post I’ll present 5 reasons why SilverStripe may be the best option for your next big project.

1. The Community

silverstripe

Simply put, the SilverStripe community is awesome. Every time I have posted a question on the forum it’s been answered within 24 hours. The community is very active and intelligent. Which should ease your mind a little about the relative obscurity and newness of this CMS. By the way, they have been around since 2000 and were developed by a talented group of New Zealanders. They’ve won a host of awards, most recently claiming the 2008 Most Promising Open Source CMS award.

The entire SilverStripe brand has just been relaunched and divided into two sites. SilverStripe.org is where you’ll find all the open source software you’ll need. And SilverStripe.com hosts the company info. The redesigned forum is now even easier to navigate and find help. Plus, you’ll enjoy good documentation and a frequently updated blog.

2. An MVC Approach

templates-logic

SilverStripe is built on the backbone of an object-oriented PHP5 web framework called Sapphire. Their MVC (Model-View-Controller) approach allows you to easily separate code from logic. The out of the box classes in Sapphire provide a sturdy foundation for you to build from. The folks at SilverStripe boast about how flexible the platform is. Using their modular approach it’s easy to understand why. The code that’s already written and the code you will write when extending the CMS is very logical, and easily reusable.

The SilverStripe template engine is set up deliberately simple in an effort to further emphasize separating logic from design. Using the templates allows you to interact through control loops that are built in and others that you can add by extending your pages. If you are familiar with frameworks like Ruby on Rails you will definitely by in your element.

3. The CMS is Very Customizable

orm

Extending the CMS is easy and intuitive thanks to the database relationships you can create between pages and data objects. SilverStripe uses it’s Object-Relational Mapper (ORM) to create database tables based off of the objects you create from simple object oriented PHP 5 syntax. In other words, learn a few basic lines of code and the databases are created for you! Within the CMS it then becomes easy to add tabs and complex table fields. As your knowledge grows, so do your options.

4. AJAX Style Site Tree

cms

I absolutely love the site tree that is used within the CMS. The site hierarchy is extremely logical. You can expand and collapse pages in the site tree which makes it quick and simple to find the page you need to edit. Parent/Child relationships are dependent upon where you place your pages and are established when the page is first created. If you change your mind about where a page should reside along the tree, you can move it with a quick drag and drop.

5. Quick Learning Curve

tutorial1

Getting up to speed on how to develop a nice SilverStripe website is a relatively quick process. I’m not saying you’ll be an expert overnight, but I’ve found it much quicker that some of the others like Drupal.

The SilverStripe documentation is laid out well in a Wiki format. There you will find recipes, docs and tutorials. The five basic tutorials is a great place to start.

Your Thoughts

There are more reasons why I’ve become an advocate of SilverStripe, but I figured this would be enough to get you intrigued. What are your thoughts? What CMS are you a big fan of?

About the Author

Andrew is a primary contributer for MyInkBlog. He is a full time web developer for Niagara University. When he's not working there, he's a blogger, twitter'er, wordpress'er, silverstripe advocate, blessed father and husband.

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  • http://webprospeak.com Bobbi Jo Woods

    Hi Andrew

    Found this post via Calvin Lee (mayhemstudios) on Twitter.

    I am definitely always looking for a CMS to try out and right now this looks good! Have toyed with Drupal before and currently use Joomla for bigger projects, and for simple websites, Etomite.org, but I’m not happy about the way they integrate the HTML/WYSIWYG editors, for my clients (who aren’t going to learn HTML)

    Have you had experience with the HTML editors in this software? How would you rate them? I’m familiar with FCKeditor, TinyMCE, and Xinha. They all do not play as well with Etomite as I’d like.

    Talk to you soon!

    Bobbi Jo Woods´s last post was… Don’t be a jerk on Twitter

  • http://www.myinkblog.com Andrew Houle

    @Bobbi SilverStripe uses TinyMCE for it’s editor. It works pretty well, and there seems to be a lot of improvement in the new beta release. My main complaints now are that it’s tricky to add Flash components and the HTML button renders the html rather ugly (however, it is numbered and colored in the beta 2.3rc2 version, just waiting on a stable release for that).

  • Bohonyi Balazs – Zsolt

    I stumbled upon Silverstripe accidentally and I gone through most of the tutorials. All I can say is that Silverstrip is extremely flexible comparing to other CMSs out there, and I love it. Definitely it will become my CMS of choice for all my future projects. I’m waiting for a better documentation and maybe an English book (a german version will be published soon).

  • http://www.myinkblog.com Andrew Houle

    @Bohonyi That’s great, I’m glad you stumbled on it as well. I saw that book as well, they definitely need to get that translated over to english!

  • http://jimjamesson.com Jim Jamesson

    My brother and I also stumbled upon SilverStripe the other day. We really, really were impressed initially and it led us to start a redo on an existing website of ours just to give the thing a go.

    Probably the best thing we like about it so far is just how quickly it is to deploy a website. Compared to a Drupal (and even wordpress…) the speed in which you can actually get your website online is something rad. I really feel like this cms was built ‘humanable’. So far, our redo is just about there, we probably have another few hour session and we’re done with it.

    Great cms so far it seems :)

  • http://pw-software.com NetOperator Wibby

    This is definitely very interesting. I use Expression Engine for my blog but I am in the process of [re]designing my graphic portfolio site. It was just going to be a simple page but this CMS looks *very* promising. Thanks for the post.

    NetOperator Wibby´s last post was… DSi for $179.99

  • http://phiredesign.net AJ Troxell

    I have a project coming up that will require the use of a CMS, and because of this, I think I am going to download it and give it a test run. Thanks Andrew!

    AJ Troxell´s last post was… Hand Drawn Elements for WordPress Comments

  • http://arbent.net Angie Bowen

    You sold me :). I haven’t tried SilverStripe yet but I’m definitely going to give it a try now.

    Angie Bowen´s last post was… The True Benefits of Freelancing Pt.1

  • http://www.web-app.net Mats

    Silverstripe is an incredible script, I tried it and love it. Another open source cms script I would strongly recommend you, to those of you which are familiar with (did you know that PHP is based on Perl?!) is webapp perl cms from: http://www.web-app.net

  • http://howardgrigg.co.nz Howard Grigg

    Great review, I have been using SS as my main CMS for a year now and have built quite a few sites with it, my php knowledge is very limited but the IRC can normally answer any questions plus the forums are good.

    The best thing about it though is how incredibly easy templating is – you can take any HTML/CSS design you like and (depending on the complexity) have it integrated into the CMS in half an hour.

    Howard Grigg´s last post was… My 20th

  • http://www.joyoge.com/ joyoge designers’ bookmark

    nice resource thank you for share..

    joyoge designers’ bookmark´s last post was… Top 10 Freelance Blogs

  • http://www.carlinowebdesign.com UncleCheese

    Nice job, Andrew! Silverstripe deserves this kind of recognition. I’m glad you featured this on a blog about design, because SS is by far the most designer-friendly CMS out there. No restrictions on your templates!

    You did miss on extremely important reason, however — the sweet ImageGallery module! ;-)

  • http://www.norabrowndesign.com Nora Brown

    I’m always looking at other CMS’s…I currently use Textpattern for most of my sites. I have to say, reading through the recommendations of Silver Stripe, its advantages sound similar to the ones I find with Textpattern: responsive community, super fast to get website from html/css to working site, quick and painless upgrades, good documentation, etc.

    Definitely going to take a closer look at SilverStripe though.

    How do people on this site feel about WordPress as a CMS for non-blog sites?

  • http://www.myinkblog.com Andrew Houle

    @AJ, @Nora and @Angie Definitely give it a try, I’d love to get your opinions on it compared to other CMS’s you’ve used.

    @UncleCheese You’re right! The image gallery extension rocks! http://silverstripe.org/archive/show/218462 ;) Thanks for all the hard work on that!

  • http://www.1stwebdesigner.com Dainis Graveris

    Interesting post, could be interesting to check this out, as design addict, I especially love their friendly design and great to see there are already tutorials for easy start.

    Dainis Graveris´s last post was… 10 Ways How To Track Site Traffic, Popularity, Statistics

  • http://www.lemon8.nl/blog Fuzz10

    @Andrew :

    Kudo’s for your Silverstripe evangelism ! ;-)

  • Derek Dole

    Give a try to Kentico CMS, that’s the nowadays rising star!

  • http://www.productivedreams.com/ Gopal Raju

    Looks promising!

    Gopal Raju,
    http://www.productivedreams.com
    http://twitter.com/gopalraju

    Gopal Raju´s last post was… Free Twitter Bird Icon Set

  • http://SilverStripe.com Aaron Magon

    Hi Andrew,

    Great to hear you’re such an avid fan of the SilverStripe CMS. We’ve been working very hard to produce such a great tool for web users and documentation to support it all – plenty more years and versions to come!

  • http://www.myinkblog.com Andrew Houle

    @Aaron Thanks for the comment :) I’m looking forward to even more amazing features in the years to come!

  • http://myinfomatrix.com Pavan K

    Very interesting. I wander if our development teams can be pulled away from FCK Editor. Can you (or Aaron, Silverstripe) provide some comments here which might help to instigate, inspire and then manage this change / migration within our various development teams?

    Brilliant Blog, found you on Twitter and looks like I will be dedicating an hour of my night looking at all your posts. The onto the ten very interesting tweeple, all of which we are now following.

    Thanks. http://twitter.com/myinfomatrix

  • http://www.myinkblog.com Andrew Houle

    @Pavan Thanks for the kind words! I’d say just have the development team download SilverStripe and give it a try for a couple days. That’s the best way to find out if a product is right for you.

  • http://www.medium-kreation.com kamal somani

    have any one tried modx CMS, I am using it since last one year and developed around 10-15 websites, it it fits to all needs, and can be customized to almost any requirement.

  • http://www.palmettocomputerlabs.com/ Matt

    Back on topic :)

    I’ve built 3 sites now with SilverStripe and the community (especially over IRC) is great. I’ve been able to do things with this CMS that i’ve been crippled doing on others.

    If you’re sitting on the fence… don’t. Go do this. Follow the tutorials. The learning curve may be awkward at first (especially for designers used to Joomla/Drupal)… but you quickly see how reusable your own code becomes.

    It’s beautiful and getting better. :)

    Cheers!

  • Will

    Silverstipe is the absolute worst CMS I have ever used. The documentation is severely lacking and it’s overly complex. I spent over a month developing a site with this CMS and the output of generated pages (such as contact forms) were terribly inaccessible. I ended up re-developing it outside of Silverstripe in hours. Silverstripe sucks.

  • http://www.northstar.ac Ryan

    Great review! We started using Silverstripe 2 years ago, soon after it was released open source, and it was the best decision we’ve made. For developers, CRUD is taken out of the picture which removes the tedious parts of site development, it’s relatively simple to extend through it’s object-oriented nature and design patterns, and it shows that PHP really is as good as Ruby on Rails if used correctly. Designers are happy too since just about any design template can be integrated with Silverstripe with relative ease. Plus clients aren’t confused outright when they first login to the admin area with the clean user interface.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielgilles/ Tanaka13 – Créations du Net

    very nice article andrew, i am actually working on a project with silverstripe! i love the way we can handle it, it’s flexibility is awesome!
    Thanks a lot to have made me aware of it!

    Tanaka13 – Créations du Net´s last post was… So Infinity goes beyond

  • http://jbdesignandphoto.com JB Design and Photo

    I’ve been using WordPress and Drupal for client sites, and am now seriously considering switching to Silverstripe for some of my new client sites.

    In the past I’ve used WordPress for some of the smaller websites that I’ve built, but I’ve been stuck using Drupal for the larger sites, and it’s a real pain to try and train/show someone else how to use the system. I really like how simple Silverstripe is to use, and hopefully make it easier for my clients to update their sites.

    JB Design and Photo´s last post was… Excel Air LLC Website is now Live

  • http://karo.com Alex Berenyi

    Apart from the many other benefits of SilverStripe noted here, it has an editing interface I’m not embarrassed to put in front of non-technical clients. Drupal 6 is, as with most CMS tools, built by geeks for geeks, and has poor usability for people who might be editing content on a website. SS seems to be built by geeks for everybody, and I mean that as a high compliment.
    We have been looking for a CMS to replace our own aging classic ASP tool that has a very simple interface. This is the first one I have found.
    I think there is a world of difference between a Drupal that we hope may get a new module which bolts on a simpler editing interface, and a SilverStripe that has been clearly built from the start to have a simple interface. Which one would you trust to grow in the right direction? You may well need some aspect of the power or variety of modules Drupal offers, but if you can find the functionality you need in SS your site editors will thank you and you may be embarking on a long and fruitful relationship.

  • http://www.free-nintendo-dsi-console.com julie

    appreciate the info guys, thanks

  • http://www.sizzlecreative.co.uk Sizzle Creative

    I like Silverstripe’s relatively simple interface. With most CMS solutions it would be quicker to teach your client how to create their own website using xhtml and css than use the CMS.

  • http://wtb.site50.net mas jawa

    I used Joomla to build our company’s website.
    Being the only guy in our marketing communication dept that can code,
    It’s very stressful if I am away while the web need immediate update.
    People hard to understand how to put simple news and make links to it.
    I have to chat, call, printscreen and send it to my colleague just to avoid them
    to click wrong button! Oh, what a pain!

    SS seems promising when I first tried it. Usability is something geeks have to
    Realize when they build a CMS. Almost all CMS user are not geeks! Companies have to
    able to update their web themselfes via PR dept.

    Now I can enjoy my holiday without laptop, just use blackberry to give a brief ex-
    planation to those beautiful PR ladies.

    Don’ t take me back to old days…..oooh pains!

  • http://vancouverliving.com Guy

    How about a little comparison of the CMS’s you mentioned: WP, Joomla. drupal, SS. I am especially interested in image gallery management. Does SS have any especially good photo galleries?

  • http://www.myinkblog.com Andrew Houle

    @Guy – I don’t have quite enough experience in Joomla and Drupal to make a well educated comparison. However, when I tested out all these CMS’s, I found Silverstripe to be the most flexible and the quickest learning curve. I do love WordPress for any major blogging platform

    Silverstripe has a fantastic module created by Aaron Carlino called the Image Gallery Extension.

  • Notra Damus

    SilverStripe has got to be the lamest CMS around. All the posters who thinkg SS is good are retarded ragheads!

  • http://www.kreationsbyran.se Cuba

    We worked with a lot of CMS’s and we simply fell for Silverstripe and it’s powerful framework – sapphire. The learning curve is a bit steeper but the payoff a lot greater. I can’t imagine going back to another CMS at the moment. Silverstripe’s got what you need, and the community keeps on growing everyday.

    We successfully launched websites with Silverstripe and it has reduced the development cost. We can now instead focus more on testing and business value of the sites we are building. Thank you Silverstripe!

    Simpply put: We recommend it wholeheartedly.

  • Joe

    I’m not sure if I’d say that Drupal is built by geeks for geeks. Drupal is just a very configurable system, which adds a good deal of complexity in the out-of-the-box experience.

    I’d say that SilverStripe is promising in it’s use of an MVC architecture. Drupal is still very procedural due to the slow process of PHP 5 adoption by webhosts.

    I’ve still had problems getting SilverStripe to run on anything other than a linux platform (even when attempting to use that goofy Web PI thing). I think the community still has a lot of work to do in making the system more robust.

    I wasn’t quite happy with the response I got on the SilverStripe forums concerning this issue… I was essentially told there was “something wrong with my configuration”, and was given this cheesy spin by one of their system architects about 40% of installs happening on Windows, but good grief… …just get the thing to work on a Windows platform without that Web PI nonsense.

    I like SilverStripe, and where it seems to be headed. It’s just that other than for a very simplistic site, it’s just not there yet.

    Drupal, I’ve found, once you get your head around it, is flexible enough to provide a reasonable base for a lot of web projects, beyond just simple sites. Unfortunately, it tends to be overkill for a simple site, though… I’m wondering if the d7ux (d7ux.org) project will actually result in a more user-friendly Drupal…

  • http://www.dospuntoero.cl francisco arenas

    I have developed websites using silverstripe for a year now, the framework is amazing and you can create small to large websites.

  • http://www.mediacontour.com Luke Swenson

    Our studio has tested various CMS’s for around 2 years and SilverStripe has been our favorite. It is easily extendable and the community is great. One of the most rewarding aspects our job is having happy clients and a lot of our clients rave about how easy it is to use.

    The only downfall is their shopping cart — it doesn’t come with a lot of what I feel are standard features.

    In a nutshell, it’s awesome CMS and once it develops its shopping cart SilverStripe will be a showstopper.

  • http://www.clippingimages.com clippingimages

    Some nice reason to use SilverStripe CMS .Good informative article , thanks for Shearing….

  • James

    I would DISAGREE with this review & I work for a firm who hired the company last year to do some work.

    Yes the CMS is based on some great ideas but:
    * the community is puny in comparison to WordPress/Drupal
    * there are almost no plugins
    * plugins are porely maintained
    * there are almost no templates
    * the back-end is heavy on javascript and is impossible to operate over low bandwidth connections
    * documentation is outdated/not there

    Till this changes your better off sticking with WordPress as it makes live much easier…

  • Tomas Bilek

    Same as James, I’m working with SS about 2 years and there is no progress in Documentation, wrong and old Wiki and One book!!!!!!

  • http://www.smartplugsdesign.com/ John

    We’ve been using SilverStripe for over a year now. We love developing with it and our clients enjoy the ease of use.

    The good folks at SilverStripe are active on their forum and there are several community members who are quite helpful and knowledgeable about the inner workings if you’re needing to dig deep in the code.

  • http://www.online-poker-holdem.net Pokern

    Hello,

    very nice Post!
    Thanks for sharing all the Information!

  • http://www.net500.com Les

    I’ve been working with various CMS’s for over 5 years.

    I’ve implemented dozens of WordPress installations. I currently operate, over 50 at last count, WordPress.org and WordPress.com blogs; with several built as blog/site combos. I like WordPress and don’t plan to divert from it; as a major blog tool.

    I’ve built several Joomla sites (30+) and like the CMS. But it’s not for the feint of heart. Once you ‘get it’, Joomla’s a workable CMS. But it’s not something you can develop and turn loose on a ‘non technical user base’.

    Although Drupal is very extensible, I personally never got into it. It took too much effort and Joomla was frankly easier. So it got my attention. I know a number of developers (my son being one) who love it. In my assessment – based on my limited experience, it is not an easy system to actually ‘work with’. And when I say ‘work with’, I’m not referring to the population of ‘gear-heads’ that work in the site setup. I’m talking about – how easy is it to ‘work with’, for the people who will need to populate the content and – as needed – add a module, maniuplate a theme function, etc. This is where the ‘trouble’ starts and controversy begins on any CMS tool.

    Too many people fail to make the distinction between the two (2) major populations of people who will likely be involved in the use of a site based on CMS.

    Population 1 -The Developers. These are the tech-savvy folks who are commonly used to dealing with the quirks and intricacies of PHP, CSS, XML, XHTML, HTML, MySQL, Javascript, etc. This population – of course will not see the ‘same problems’ that Poplation 2 will see.

    Population 2 – The Actual ‘User-Base’ , those who will be charged with adding content, maintaining the site and adding additional new plug-ins or updating existing elements of the extensible framework. The are the people who will have to USE the property when the developers release it. This population might be made up of tech-savvy people; have a tech-savvy person around … but it’s not likely. Thus, when they are faced with any involvement with ‘code’ or site technology, they are stuck and the results wil NOT be pretty.

    I am in or have been in – all the areas mentioned above. So, I see the needs. I feel the limitations. I understand the strengths and weaknesses of a CMS from all major points of interest. They ALL have their problems, limitations and short-coming. None of them are perfect. We need to keep this in mind when discussing new products.

    From what I see of Silver Stripe the developers are answering a number of the ongoing requests and common sense needs of developing on a CMS platform.

    I get a real chuckle from the range of comments made here. They follow much the same patterns likely seen in typical comment venues like this.

    Andrew’s article was well done. I appreciated reading his comments. I’m interested in giving SS a go. I have one installation under development. I’ve found some hitches, but they have more to do with my lack of familiarity with the SS layout. A bit more time and I know the problems will dissolve.

    But when you have the mix of comments here ranging from “SS is the greatest thing since sliced bread’, to “SS is shit-on-a-stick’, it’s really difficult to sort usable comments and worthless BS. Especailly when the reader is already confused.

    By and large, the comments have been quite favorable and for the most part helpful.

    I see comments made with good thought and the understanding that there are people reading this article who really want a solid, factual report. Not just someones BS. It’s also obvious some of the comments, from those who, if asked, would consider themselves as pros in development, are obviously, not made by pros.

    You may be building sites, charging for the service and product, and accepting compensation. Businesswise that will put one in ‘pro’ status; meaning you’re operating as a professional. But in no way does it necessarily indicate a professional level of proficiency in the products used, the business conducted, or at a pro level of comment valuel

    Good luck to those venturing into CMS tools; into using Silver Stripe; and to us all as we work our way though the changing landscape in front of us.

  • SS-is-dodgy

    I have to agree with James. I’ll just cut ‘n paste his comments, since they are absolutely on target:

    Yes the CMS is based on some great ideas but:
    * the community is puny in comparison to WordPress/Drupal
    * there are almost no plugins
    * plugins are poorly maintained
    * there are almost no templates
    * the back-end is heavy on javascript and is impossible to operate over low bandwidth connections
    * documentation is outdated/not there

    Yes yes yes. Puny community, forums clogged with “Newsletter doesn’t work since my last upgrade, help?” (replace Newsletter with the module of your choice) , too-clever bloated AJAX site management tools which hammer your database if your browser hangs on the intricate javascript, abandoned modules, never mind poorly maintained … out of date documentation…

    I really REALLY /want/ to like SilverStripe … but I don’t.

  • http://www.n-webdesign.co.uk Ed Nice

    I’ll let you into a little secret. I write .NET apps and content managed site for clients. But all my own web sites are done with SilverStripe. Why?

    Well, I enjoy using it. It works out of the box, you can add blogs, news, spam protection, complex file management, galleries, forums and other useful things almost immediately.

    You can build a really useful web site, really quickly, that has plenty of ‘flavour’, really usable admin tools (for them pesky users) and most of the expected functionality (like blogs and stuff) readily available.

    If you are ok with CSS, it’s pretty easy to turn a default black-candy install into something so different without doing anything to the code/sapphire core and almost nothing to templates.

    When you get jiggy with it, it’s pretty easy to override the core components, like option buttons and other form controls, to get the look and formatting you need.

    Ok, what isn’t so good about it?

    Well, I’ve never really had an issue with the community, because I’ve either found an [already available] easy answer to my dumb question or I’ve read the source code. But I can see why people get all uptight when they want to be spoon fed a solution.

    I’d like to see a few ‘crib sheets’ for template options and a bit more uniformity in the documentation.

    I’m not intending to try and convince anyone who doesn’t like it, how great SilverStripe is, but it works for me and I’m happy to recommend it.

  • Chris Qie

    No, SilverStripe should be called suckstripe, I can’t create the virtual catalog.