Easy content management?
March 22, 2009 2:34 PM   Subscribe

A friend has asked me to design/build a website for an organisation he's involved with. He will be updating the pages, creating new ones etc. There's a very small budget, which only covers the intial setup He has no experience, and a copy of FrontPage (which I don't use or have). The host allows php and ssi, but not databases. What's the best option for providing him with a template that will let him create and change pages easily, without screwing up my layout and causing me more grief?
posted by monkey closet to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't let the host be the limiting factor. If they want to be able to update content then something like Wordpress or any other content management system (CMS) should be used, and you'll need a database for that.
posted by furtive at 2:36 PM on March 22, 2009

You could always try PDO (SQLite) for Wordpress. SQLite doesn't need MySQL or another other db environment installed on the host.
posted by purephase at 2:41 PM on March 22, 2009

furtive is right: you can forget CMSs if there isn't any database. Are you sure that there isn't a budget for $10 per month? Because that's what entry-level hosting costs. If yes, then go with Google Apps, Standard Edition is free.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:46 PM on March 22, 2009

You might also take a peek at CushyCMS, although I don't know if it allows him to create pages.
posted by aheckler at 3:15 PM on March 22, 2009

nthing furtive. No database = no CMS. Well, i guess you could do a file-editing based one... but you REALLY don't want to, from difficulty standpoint, security standpoint... yeah.

There are many hosts that are exceptionally inexpensive that DO provide databases... In fact, I can't think of any hosts who DON'T. I'd actually say Foci's estimation is high. I just recently put a website up with a database, php, ssl, ssh, 100 email accounts, several GIGS of hosting space and transfer... and I'm paying roughly $5 a month.

Don't want to offer free advertising for the host, but mefimail me if you want the name. You've heard of them.
posted by frwagon at 3:39 PM on March 22, 2009

Secoding Furtive. Without knowing where you are or how much the budget is, many hosts, even if "not allowing database access" do have their own hostwide stripped down Wordpress or other on-line CMS. I know my host for less than ten bucks a month will manage a Wordpress blog/site. You might want to check that out.

Barring that, if it is FrontPage 2003, you can always set up Dynamic Web Templates, hide them in an access restricted folder, and then the user will only be able edit the editable regions.
Big big caveat, the user can still do anything in the editable region so it is fairly easy to break. This would work if the user is just going to replace content and if the user is careful.

Dreamweaver does a better job of creating .dwts but Frontpage will be able to use .dwts created by Dreamweaver, so if you have Dreamweaver you can still create them.

Again, that is not a perfect solution and while it makes it harder to screw up layout than nothing, still easily screw-uppable.
posted by xetere at 3:42 PM on March 22, 2009

It all depends on what your friend wants the site to do and how often he will update it. Has he shown you existing sites that approximate what he wants his site to do?

I know blogging software written in PHP that does not use a database is out there. Can't recall the names, though, but Google it.

In theory, updates might be made via SSI and templates that you'd create and leave behind, if someone with the right skills is available to talk to the server.

If the current host costs anything at all, I'd look around for a Wordpress host -- someone with MySQL, and go that route.

Also, ask your friend who is going to tend to the needs of the server after the site is live. If you don't want him to see you as an on-demand admin, you need to clear that up.
posted by justcorbly at 4:00 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: Really basic solution: how about setting up your index.php as the main template, and writing some code that includes a certain page depending on the GET variables (eg mysite.com/?p=contact will reference contact.htm)?

<> if (isset($_GET['p'])){
$page = $_GET['p'];
} else {
$page = "index";
include("content/" . $page . ".htm");

You could put all the content pages in a different directory and then it's just editing a simple textfile. You may have to instruct him how to use CSS tags if you wish to have some formatting go on but otherwise it's bog standard.

If you want him to be able to add/delete pages without changing the template file manually, then write some more php to parse the contents of the content directory and create a menu item link for each file.
posted by gkhewitt at 4:19 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: Here is aCMS that uses no DB, pretty slick too, NanoCMS
posted by raildr at 4:27 PM on March 22, 2009

Coranto is a Perl based CMS that uses no DB. It's the first one I ever used and its templating system is simple and extremely flexible.
posted by elle.jeezy at 4:54 PM on March 22, 2009

Use a wiki system (with a template) ??
Dokuwiki doesn't use a database and is easy to use.
posted by Xhris at 5:57 PM on March 22, 2009

Blosxom is another CMS that uses no database. I've not used it beyond a quick test install, so have no idea how flexible it is, but what little I did test worked fine.
posted by ook at 7:26 PM on March 22, 2009

Dokuwiki works without a database. It's designed for documentation, but it's flexible enough for me to use for my personal blog.
posted by PueExMachina at 9:14 PM on March 22, 2009

I believe Blogger.com will allow you to publish to an FTP site.
posted by MesoFilter at 10:10 PM on March 22, 2009

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