Chris J Powell

Free App Friday – Replacing WordPress

This is a topic that I have been flirting with for some time (basically since I started Krispy’s Rants in April of 2011.  While the power of the world’s most popular Content Management Solution (CMS) has served me well through several redesigns and a Web Host switch…a “corruption” of the Database last night is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

So where do I start, well this has been my challenge right from the start.  I don’t want to have to learn the nuances of PHP Scripting to be able to function as a Blog but in many ways I am thinking that as someone with some Tech Savvy it is time to branch out and not be a slave to what ever is easiest.  There are lots of great alternatives and one of the things that the future of Krispy’s Rants must be is Open Source…so heading over to Open Source CMS lets me peer into the latest and greatest of what Open Source has to offer.

Some ground Rules for my moving forward:

  1. Cannot be Ruby or Python (my host does not support either)
  2. Flexible and Simple
  3. Strong Community Ecosystem
  4. Able to support daily posts
  5. Moderate learning curve for “skinning”

So there you have it.  I had already started working on a short list and looking to what would work on my host and then started playing around with the solutions in a XAMPP Local Environment.  In no particular order here are my Top 5:

GetSimple CMS


This lightweight CMS does not leverage the world of mySQL like most, it is what is called a flat file CMS that still retains a great deal of power by configuring everything in XML for data storage.  With 192+ plugins and a fairly robust documentation scheme…it is a very strong contender but I am concerned that as the site continues to grow…will it be able to handle things without offsetting some of the load to mySQL?



Going back to the roots of blogging is something that intrigues me.  I have mucked around with MovableType and ExpressionEngine and these two are the backbone to some of the largest “Blogs” going…so could I really make it work for me?  EllisLabs the builder of the CodeIgniter PHP Framework is the keeper of ExpressionEngine and everything points to the fact that they are fully supportive of their “Core” install (which includes about 99% of what I need from the CMS) unlike MovableType that has gone back and forth about a non-commercial version for a long time.  There is however…the $299 price tag that comes with making the move from Core to Full.

Anchor CMS


This is the young upstart in the pack.  I stumbled across it several months ago when I was “questing” for a replacement and really liked the simplicity of the CMS.  Having been mired in WordPress Plugin Hell for the past 2.5 years and really letting someone else do the thinking for me all this time…I really liked that Anchor keeps is simple, keeps it connected and keeps it solid.  On the downside there is something to be said in looking to a broader support network for a CMS that I will be working with and this has me going back and forth more and more.

Contao CMS


Starting life off as TypoLight, the Contao CMS system has been on my radar for some time and among the truly open platforms, it has among the most robust feature sets out of the box but with this comes the caveat that the complexity and learning curve is steep.  There are lots of plugins but one downfall…if you want your site to look pretty you will pay in one of two ways…shell out cash for one of their base forms or build one from scratch.



The Concrete5 world has long intrigued me and the way that they configure everything to connect with and interact with their “plugin store” is ingenious…but I can’t help but think that when I do this, I leave a gaping wide hole into the back end of my website!  At the core, there is some pretty good functionality but to get anything out of the CMS, you really need to add several plugins in and this will then require linking your site to the Concrete5 Marketplace.

There are literally hundreds of other options out there and in no particular order here is a list of just a few that I have “played with” while narrowing my own field down to just 5:

  • Drupal – For more than a Blog…oh how I wish I had the time to learn you
  • Joomla – #2 to WordPress and built to be far more than a Blog…but???
  • Pico – Flat File CMS…gorgeous but just not scalable
  • Monstra – Flat File…dead easy…but not scalable
  • PyroCMS – A strong contender that fell short in with my host
  • Fork CMS – Slick and gorgeous but lacking some support I need
  • GotCMS – Lite and easy…but “too light and easy?”
  • ModX – This is one of my favorites but it will not install on my host
  • sNews – The concept is great…but it is just News and I am not a journalist
  • BigACE – Another wildly interesting concept but documentation fell short
  • appRAIN – Dead simple…but scalable in so many ways…but is it scalable?

There were many many more that were downloaded, installed and even migrated to my host for testing that didn’t make it to this list.

Stay tuned for the upcoming migration…should be a lot of fun and will likely mean a manual porting of each and every surviving post, page and image.  Oh what fun it is to be Krispy!!!



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