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MischaK

Interest in write up comparing Silverstripe / ProcressWire / CraftCMS from a .NET developer point of view

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I'm someone who has been developing websites for a while, mostly doing full stack .NET development and ASP scripting before that, while using Silverstripe and some other PHP frameworks for some smaller projects which worked well enough for quite some time. 

Now I have some time on my hands and decided to evaluate some different CMS options. 

Diving in as a newbie into: 

Wordpress 

Processwire 

CraftCMS

After a short while I decided that Wordpress was out while I'm still evaluating Craft and Processwire. 

My question is, is there any interest here in reading about my experiences in trying to get the feature set I want up and running, with these other systems?

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I don't remember where I pulled this illustration from. I maybe found it somewhere here in the forum or here https://www.cmscritic.com. It corresponds largely to my personal experience. Another dimension, called 'security' is missing and would also help to make a good decision ...

best-cms.png.feadc28435ac3d7b94106f38be4d730e.png

 

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Hi @MischaK, welcome to the forum and the world of ProcessWire 😉

4 hours ago, MischaK said:

My question is, is there any interest here in reading about my experiences in trying to get the feature set I want up and running, with these other systems?

It's always interesting to read about experiences of others - depending on what your intention is on that topic, we also have the pub and dev talk forums. If you have questions related to processwire you'll always find a helping hand here in the forum.

Enjoy 🙂

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Quote

I'm someone who has been developing websites for a while, mostly doing . . . . . .

Are you working for a company or for your self ?

 

Quote

After a short while I decided that Wordpress was out

That's what I thougt (Ideologically) for a long time, until I bumped in just too many cases where they want things done in Wordpress.

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11 minutes ago, pwired said:

where they want things done in Wordpress

WP is great for things. But here we talk about websites 🙂

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On 9/12/2018 at 4:51 PM, pwired said:

Are you working for a company or for your self ?

I have done both over the last 18 years or so. 

I think I'll try and do some kind of feature matrix and a bit of a write up on my experiences of going into Processwire so far in trying to achieve these things in Processwire. 

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So I was planning on doing a full write up a while back to compare the different CMS systems:
Craft, Processwire, Silverstripe

Since I'm here I will just focus on my experiences with ProcessWire. 

With some experience with developing websites in Silverstripe I figured it would be good for me to have a look at some other options which brought me here. 

I do have some features which I really want to have with websites which I deliver to my customers:

Must haves:

  • Version management -> if a client screws something up I don't want to waste too much time to get things back in working condition. 
  • Easy editing of pages for customers.
  • Extensibility with extra content fields in the CMS.

Nice to haves:

  • Inline editing. 
  • Easy Multilanguage setup.
  • Easy upgrades.


First Impressions:

The good:
Processwire looks pretty good from a power user point of view. 
I love the fact that you can just use PHP in templates and also the obvious active development is a big plus and it seems to be very extensible. 

The bad:
No support for IIS out of the box. 
I did find a web.config on the forum but needed to sign up to the forum to download this. 
Signing up to the forum lists facebook as a sign in option -> doesn't actually work. 
The first impressions on the look and feel of the admin. 

Implementing

Actually porting a site template over to processwire with the functionality I needed to add:

This process went pretty smoothly I loved the pw-append way of working with templates, templates felt really easy to port and set up. 
Creating menu's etc. was easy. 

I loved the way that there are multiple ways of doing things which are available with the templates which can be installed. 

I also loved how easy it was setting up inline editing and adding an edit link to a page. 

I think my main problems with settings things up where the way processwire handles images. 
The problems I had with version control plugin + images. 

Usability testing

After having set up the basics I had 2 lovely lady friends do some usability testing by letting them perform some small tasks on the website. 

Edit some pages 
    -> add an image 
Swap the position of 2 pages in the menu. 

Both smart ladies 1 of them had been actively maintaining a magento shop. 
And their conclusion was unanimous, they both heavily preferred the Silverstripe backend. 

For me this meant that I continued to work on the Silverstripe version of the website. 
I didn't continue to complete all the functionality in the Processwire version of the website. 

Conclusion

For me the conclusion of this experiment was that although I loved building the basic website with Processwire the admin experience just doesn't seem user friendly enough to justify the switch. 

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Thx for sharing 🙂

9 hours ago, MischaK said:

Both smart ladies 1 of them had been actively maintaining a magento shop. 
And their conclusion was unanimous, they both heavily preferred the Silverstripe backend. 

Would be interesting WHY they preferred it 😉 Maybe they where just used to the old way of doing it. This does not mean that another way could not be easier/better in the long run. I remember when I first installed Office 365 I was quite upset because everything looked different then on the old Office 2007/2010 but now it's the other way round: I love the new Office and when I have to work on an old computer with old Office I'm totally bugged 😄 

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2 hours ago, bernhard said:

Would be interesting WHY they preferred it

So it's been a little while since I did this testing, but I will try to elaborate: 

I had things set up in a way that you could click "edit page" and double click the main content field to edit that. 

So I think I was super helpful in that regard.

It sort of backfired though because it felt less secure to double click to edit to one of the women I asked to edit the site. 

The changing the sort order of the pages in the menu was also a problem because of the entry point into the CMS. 
Because when they came to the "Edit this page" screen, there wasn't any obvious menu structure of the website anywhere to be found. 

I think I also asked them to revert a page to a previous point -> this also wasn't obvious where to do this. 

One of them thought the experience in Silverstripe felt a lot more secure because of the draft/publish mechanic aka less fear of screwing up and the separation of edit here -> see changes there was very separated. 

Overall the CMS experience felt messy to them. 

---

So looking back: it might have been more of a thing that I tried to set up some extra's which I thought would make things easier to edit that wound up feeling less secure. 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, bernhard said:

Would be interesting WHY they preferred it

I have not seen SilverStripe's backend since version 3.0 but that version was really centered around intuitive page and content management, so I guess it is still solid at doing so. Drafts and page content versioning of SilverStripe has always been built-in, and that's the only thing I really miss in PW. ProcessWire has this covered with a commercial module, but still...

I prefer ProcessWire to SilverStripe because of two things: PW does not introduce breaking changes between mayor versions while SS does because of refactoring how things work. Also, PW does not require a template language while SS relies on its own implementation. Anyone can add a popular templating engine to ProcessWire if one wants to.

Edited by szabesz
typo
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There haven't been any mayor changes in the way the backend looks in Silverstripe since 3.0. 

I think one of the main differences between PW and SS on the backend is that when you're editing a page in SS you see the site tree when editing a page. 
Hence you always have an overview. 

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I don't see the point here. Editing a page in PW, the page tree is just one click away.

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also depends on the type/scope of the site – in a vast majority of websites, the page tree is probably irrelevant, esp. when editing a page. 
But UiKit Admin Theme the page tree is a mouse hover away.

587733037_ScreenShot2018-10-18at10_12_44PM.thumb.png.97bcae896d1e91d00dcc0b7c5da34c9a.png

Most sites i build now the users interact only with a custom dashboard and listers.

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Thanks for sharing this.

19 hours ago, MischaK said:

Because when they came to the "Edit this page" screen, there wasn't any obvious menu structure of the website anywhere to be found. 

This is something I've heard before too while giving training. I guess the Explorer / Finder kinda sidebar gives people more comfortable feeling. Especially at first sight. Usually within the first session they understand the page tree and the need for the tree in the sidebar.

19 hours ago, MischaK said:

 I think I also asked them to revert a page to a previous point -> this also wasn't obvious where to do this. 

Jup, I've heard this too. This is where ProDrafts comes in. Or one the versioning modules by @teppo.

19 hours ago, MischaK said:

 One of them thought the experience in Silverstripe felt a lot more secure because of the draft/publish mechanic aka less fear of screwing up and the separation of edit here -> see changes there was very separated. 

For clients hidden / unpublished isn't always obvious and I believe the need ProDrafts in your base install to give people a comfortable way of to create content. This is a paid module.

19 hours ago, MischaK said:

 Overall the CMS experience felt messy to them. 

The funny thing is that while I've heard all your points come up regularly, I have never heard the term messy. All clients find the CMS very clean, focused, easy to navigate since the page tree reflects there website structure. Most say the need to unlearn other experiences like WordPress with the Custom Post Types or Joomla. 

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Must have missed that one! Thanks for stepping in.

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Cool to see there are options to probably take away a lot if not all of the things I mentioned. 

I really think the option for having the site tree visually present all the time will be great for people who only edit their site once every month or less. 
But it is probably unwanted for people who really need to do a lot of work on pages and want all the space they can so cool that it's an option 🙂

I will keep an eye on Processwire and I'll probably do another test some time soon to see what happens if I do some small tweaks to make the admin even more friendly for non technical people.

 

 

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Hey @MischaK, just wanted to say thanks for going through the trouble of explaining your findings here. Very much appreciated 🙂

I'm also glad to hear that there's still demand for versioning the content. I originally developed the Version Control module when we were in the process of migrating from an earlier, in-house CMS to ProcessWire. Since our old system had extensive versioning system built-in I thought it'd be a necessity for the new system as well, but at this point I'm ready to admit that I might've been somewhat misguided.

It's been years since that migration started, and so far I've had a handful of clients request some method of content versioning. The times I've had to solve an issue where content was accidentally removed and couldn't be found anywhere can be counted on fingers of one hand – and yes, we've dealt with some pretty big sites. Talking about dozens of content editors and thousands of pages of content.

My conclusion at this point is that it's rarely a real necessity to have content versioning in a CMS, but you're absolutely right that it's a great safety net to have.

I guess it's also more important (and more useful) for users that are already used to having it in, say, a system they've used before. Kind of like how you see devs build software without any kind of version control system in place: to me it seems like a horrible nightmare, but they don't know any better – and if they've been doing that for a while already, they've probably developed other approaches to versioning or backing up their work 🙂

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