ProcessWire, my new favorite CMS in the whole wide world!
I remember years ago when I first discovered WordPress, how excited and thrilled I was to be able build fully dynamic websites quickly and easily. Need to setup a site quick? No problem, WordPress is good at that, in fact, many web hosting companies offer a simple one click install for those who don’t desire to get into the MySQL/PHP setup. Need extra functionality? Download one of the thousands of plugin that all do the same thing. Need more help? Ask the community or simply Google for tutorials. Possibilities are endless. And over the years, WordPress has ever evolved into so much more than just a blogging tool. It’s the CMS of choice for many web designers, web developers and bloggers for one simple reason; its simplicity and its focus on ever improving usability and ease of use. Within that simplicity however lies perhaps one of it’s biggest drawbacks, notably for web designers and developers; it makes assumptions, and it makes plenty of them.
Blogging is as mainstream as having a Facebook page or Twitter account; everyone can do it and nearly everyone does and WordPress has allowed for this to be true above all other blogging tools that have ever been available. It has done this by making sure that users who have absolutely no knowledge or know-how about web design or development at all don’t need it and are able to claim their piece of the web so they can share all those random thoughts, experiences, rants, and anything everyone doesn’t really care about.
How has it done this? It has done this by making assumptions about what the user wants. Because let face it, not having to learn to code is so much easier than having to learn to code right? Well, this is obviously great for those who don’t wish (or care) to think about those kinds of things, but for the designers and developers who know exactly what they need in terms of design and functionality, it can be a daunting task to have to build the plugin you need, perhaps find the plugin that almost, nearly, kinda does what you need and then modify it, or, in the worst case scenario, you’ll need to edit the WordPress core itself *gulp!*.
Despite this however, I’ll admit that for a while I defended WordPress as the CMS that could do it all (which it basically could, albeit at a cost, usually sweat, blood and tears). And like many designers and developers out there, once you’re in a flow and you’ve fallen into a comfort zone, getting out isn’t always easy.
Then, one day I got introduced to the world of ProcessWire, a PHP built system with an admin backend inspired by JQuery. This still relatively new and unknown and INCREDIBLY simple and powerful tool allows for developing complex websites easily and quickly. And not because it has tons of ready built in features and functions ready to be turned on with a single click (that’s what Magento is, and its learning curve is as steep and smooth sailing as a waterfall) but because it makes no assumptions about what you might want or need. It leaves it all up to you: the developer/designer.
Assigning attributes and field types to page templates, organizing your thousand page website, flexibility and efficiency, it freakin’ does it all, or better said, it lets you do it all! And designing templates, oh how sweet it is to be able to to focus on design and not worry about how I’m going to implement it later. And as for learning curve? Well, I’ll be launching a new site with ProcessWire soon and it’s taken less than a month all in all to put it all together. It all went so fast that I find myself now merely improving the code and the functions I wrote so hastily out of pure excitement. And because the admin is so customizable to build exactly what you need and want, it makes it easy to develop a safe, user friendly environment for the user who is completely computer illiterate (kinda like how WordPress does, oh wait, no it doesn’t…)
Don’t get me wrong, I still love WordPress and adore it for it’s capable of and what it means and has done for the Internet community and I will undoubtedly continue to use it for personal projects every now and then should it be deemed appropriate. But at least for now, it’s lost it’s top spot in my heart where it has been for so long. So, hey ProcessWire, how you doin’?