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CMS Made Simple

Hello from the Editor

Well, it's nearly the end of another year!  At this time, the Dev Team would like to extend season's good will to all of you, the CMSMS family, no matter what your faith or creed. 

It's been a busy year for us here at CMSMS.  We seen major steps forward and two betas on CMSMS 2.0, we've seen changes in the Dev team, we've started the ball rolling for next year's GeekMoot, and we've initiated and elected the CMSMS Board of Directors!  Phew.  We're all looking forward to some family and friends time over the holidays, and some good, traditional rest. 

But before we pop on our elf hats and start ringing our bells, there's lots to tell you in this, the last newsletter of 2014.  So without further ado...

CMS Made Simple News

There are three important things to update you on this month:  CMSMS 2.0, GeekMoot, and our newly formed Board of Directors.


We've had some great feedback from the first two betas and look forward to Beta3 coming out imminently.  We expect that Beta3 will be the final stage in the beta process, though of course are not limiting ourselves to that just yet - we need to remain flexible to cater for any requirements from this beta.  We look forward to being able to announce the release of Beta3 in the very near future.  Watch this space!


As you know, GeekMoot is coming!  On the 20th, 21st & 22nd of March 2015 we'll all be together in Gent, Belgium. We have a great line up which we'll announce shortly. 

There's still room for presentations, so if you have not yet told us about a presentation you want to do, there's still time.  As it gives you reductions in the cost of GeekMoot, it's a great way to save some money and give something to the community at the same time. 

And don't forget, if you book your ticket now, before the full line up of presentations is announced, you can take advantage of the EarlyBird price Click here to buy your Early-Bird ticket now!.

Find out more at the GeekMoot site:

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CMS Made Simple™ now has a Board of Directors!

We’re proud to announce that the CMS Made Simple Development Team has elected a board of directors. It currently consists of three members: Matt Hornsby, Kevin Danezis, and Anne-Mieke Bovelett.

Why we introduce a board

While our CMS has evolved over the past 10 years, the way the development team operates has not, until now.

In the past two years we’ve had Robert Campbell as our project leader, following Ted Kulp's move on to other projects outside of CMS Made Simple.  Robert had always made it very clear that he took this position upon himself on a temporary basis, until we could decide upon another solution. It was never meant to last two years. Recently he announced his wish to step down.

We believe that our team members should all do what they do best AND what they love most! Robert has done a great job as project leader. He’s really good at that. But he’s also really good at programming and that’s where his heart is. Programming for his customers, programming for CMS Made Simple, and leading the core development team.

So what does the board do?

The Board takes up the job of managing the project in general. The Board also functions as impartial referee if and when internal disputes should arise. The Board cooks up the strategy for the future and presents it to the entire Development Team when it’s time to vote upon possible changes or additions, and all necessary ground work has been completed. We feel this will help start the process of promoting CMS Made Simple as a well-managed, professional product.

You and the board

If you wish have any wishes or suggestions for CMS Made Simple, and you can provide detailed and specific steps on how you see this goal realised, you can send an e-mail to

With the extended news on the Board above, plus an extra article below this month, our round up of CMSMS Websites is taking a break.  It will be back in the next newsletter.


An Interview with Matt Hornsby.

As a member of our newly created Board of Directors, Matt's profile has raised among the CMSMS Community.  We thought you might like to get to know him a little better.  We'll be interviewing the other board members in future newsletters.  Matt has also kindly provided us with an article this month.  You can read it after his interview.

When and how did you first find CMS Made Simple?
Roughly 5 years ago, via a Google search. A developer had made a site for me in Drupal, and I wasn't happy with it. CMSMS was the first alternative that I tried, and it was perfect for my needs.
What was it that made you choose it as your development tool of choice?
I was proficient in HTML and CSS, and wanted to be able to control everything. Between this, and the community (mostly IRC) where I met a few developers in which I have formed working relationships and long term friendships, it filled my needs perfectly.
When did you get involved with the development team?
A couple of years ago, Robert (Calguy) approached me as, at the time, the Dev Team was investigating forming a board of sorts in Canada. That didn't pan out, but I stayed on the Dev Team.
What's your role?
My main tasks in the past few years have been mostly as an editor. I proofread the newsletters, press releases, and documentation, as well as try to help maintain the current documentation site. Over time, I have also been vocal in Dev meetings, and larger decision making. Recently, when there were some problems with the structure of the Dev Team, I stepped into an acting leadership role and facilitated a restructuring. The Dev Team rewarded my efforts by voting me in to the newly created Board of Directors, where I have been taking on more leadership roles as time allows.
CMSMS has a new Board of Directors.  Tell us about it.
We're still working this out. The goal is to take some of the decision making tasks away from the Dev Team as a whole, and let the teams work instead of manage. We had an election last quarter, and myself, Anne-Mieke Bovelett (Compufairy) and Kevin Danezis (Bess) have now formed the Board. Being from different continents, we've been struggling with time management and task sharing, but the idea is strong and I think we'll get there.

What are you most excited about in CMSMS's future?
I'm excited about how the Board will contribute to the stability of the Dev Team. My personal long term goals are to grow the programming group, and try to spread some of the work away from having "all our eggs in one basket". I'm also looking forward to 2.0, and some features it will add and/or enable.
When you are not wearing your work hat, what do you like to do to relax?
I enjoy woodworking and hiking/backpacking. I also have a small hobby farm in urban Vancouver Island, where I spend my time chasing chickens, my 4 year old daughter, and occasionally my wife.

And to follow that, Matt has written us a guest article:

Where are the site templates?

CMS Made Simple is different than most other Content Management Systems. In some situations, this makes it less ideal for certain projects, but in many cases it makes it the best and most powerful choice. One of the key differences is how CMSMS handles site templates or themes.

The v8 engine rumbling beneath CMSMS's hood is the Smarty Templating Engine. If you are new to CMSMS, Smarty may seem daunting, overpowered, or even unnecessary. Once you've started to create your first somewhat complex site, however, you'll wonder how you ever worked without its simplicity and power. The elegance of Smarty is also why you don't see thousands of commercially available site templates or themes available for CMSMS: they're simply not necessary. ANY site template, or static web site's HTML, can easily be used in CMS Made Simple with the addition of a few simple tags. Even advanced templating becomes simple (there's that word again).

In its most basic form, you just paste your HTML into a new Template in CMSMS, and add a {content} tag. Link the CSS and upload any images, and you have a site ready to populate with content. Obviously, this is just scratching the surface of CMSMS's abilities, but it illustrates how simple (yep) it really is. Once you have the basics mastered, you will discover more of Smarty's default tags, as well as how to program advanced functionality without knowing any PHP.

CMS Made Simple is aimed at the experienced Web Developer, so it assumes you already have the HTML and CSS bits down. Once you add a basic familiarity with Smarty, you'll be building your own templates, and converting existing ones with ease.

So where are the site templates? They're everywhere! Commercial templates for other content management systems, generic HTML templates, or even live sites you want to "borrow" from, are all potential template sources.

Matt Hornsby

Some essential tips to have you creating templates like a boss

Following on from Matt's article above, I thought I'd remind you of some of the ways you can really make site templates work for you.  With a few simple tricks you can make your template a breeze to handle as your site develops.  Here are three (well two and a mash-up, if I am honest!)

I've mentioned this before, but it is worth mentioning again with particular regard to templates.  Assigning moves your item into a Smarty variable.  In templates, this is extremely useful for content.    Take the {content}  Tag Matt mentions above.  In the tag help, you'll find you could also use {content block="second_column" assign="mycontent"}.  Why?  Now you can check it exists.  E.G. {if $mycontent !=""}{$mycontent}{/if}.  This is great to create optional second columns in a template that only appear if the site editor has filled in the box.  By assigning and testing for existence, you can reduce the amount of templates you need to build.

Global Gontent Blocks
Do you have a header in your page?  Do you have a footer?  How about a consistent sidebar?  Move that code out of the template and into a global content block.  Now call the GCB into the template.  Why?  If you do end up needing more than one template, you only have to edit the header and footer in one place to have it change across the site.  You see they are content blocks, but they're global!  Get it? 

Now combine them!
By combining the two methods above you can really make your templates think! For example, set a content block for a side panel and assign it to a variable.  Now check if that variable exists.  If it does, show it, if not, show a default GCB. 
I use this in many of my templates.  I create default sidebars, default content sections and so on.  I use it to create default GCB meta descriptions that can be overridden in the page. 

There are plenty of other tricks.  Another favorite of mine is to import and customise the menu manager template, assigning each menu item an id by using id="{$page_alias}".    In fact,  {$page_alias} is a great way to give yourself the occasional individual page variance in an otherwise consistent GCB.

The beauty of the system, as Matt said above, is that any HTML can be converted into a template for your site.  And, when you really get your head under the hood, CMSMS will go so much further for you.

Written by John Scotcher

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