CMS Critic Recommends... September Edition

It's that time again where we post our recommendations to various questions that are posed to us over the month.

This month we're going to provide you with options to consider if you are looking to start your own blog or small business website. Most of the systems we recommend below start off as blog platforms but can easily be extended to suit other CMS requirements.


While we are certainly aware that WordPress and Blogger are the two most popular blogging platforms on the market, that doesn't mean that they are the best. There are numerous other platforms out there that are worth checking out and we always enjoy finding new ones.

Here are a few recommended content management systems for blogging that we've tried and enjoy.

*Note: The systems below are not just for blogging, they are also very powerful CMS platforms. We simply classified them this way because they perform very well as blog platforms too!

Serendipity (also known as s9y)

Serendipity is an excellent blogging platform and when it comes to functionality, available plugins and stability, is quite a powerful system.  It doesn't stop at blogging, however. Serendipity is a very powerful CMS as well and can (and should) be used for other projects ranging from publishing to serving up your business' website.

Support is excellent and the developers are quick to (safely) adapt your requests which is a rarity in this type of market.

Some of it's features:

  • WYSIWYG and HTML editing
  • Built-in, powerful media database
  • Multiple authors, configurable permission/usergroup system
  • Threaded comments, nested categories, post to multiple categories
  • Multiple languages (internationalization)
  • Online plugin and template repository for easy plug-and-play installation
  • Cool plugins: category-based sub-blogs, podcasting, RSS planet/aggregator, static pages
  • Robust spam blocking
  • One-click upgrading from any version
  • Can be embedded into your existing web pages
  • Standards-compliant templating through Smarty, remote blogging via XML-RPC
  • BSD-style licensing
  • Multiple Database support (SQLite, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MySQLi)
  • Shared installations can power multiple blogs from just one codebase
  • Native import from earlier blog applications (WordPress, Textpattern, Moveable Type, bblog, …)

More info: Serendipity CMS


Pixie is a visually attractive, small and simple to use CMS that has been growing well the last few years. It's easy to install, a pleasant experience to use and very stable. Produced by Toggle, there aren't a huge number of plugins and themes but there are plenty to get the job done.

This is a fun system to use and we recommend you give it a whirl and see if it fits your needs. There is a demo available that you can play with, without installing anything.

Some features include:

  • Easy to use installer that gives you options as to the site you wish to install. Looking to blog, select the blog package and the CMS will be customized for that purpose. Need a small business site, same applies.
  • Clean URL's and very good search engine friendly coding allow this CMS to perform well on your favourite search engine.
  • CSS themes – Pixie makes use of CSS for it's themes which opens up the door to thousands of freely available templates.

For more features, visit their website: Pixie CMS


glFusion is based on Geeklog, which is one of the oldest blogging and article publishing CMS available. Geeklog is a great system and well supported but the team at glFusion have taken things a step farther and provided very adaptable themes, extra plugins and very solid support. In our opinion, they have done a great job taking Geeklog to the next level and we suggest you try their product out if you haven't. It's free of course.

Features include:

  • Standards Based
    Coded in PHP5 & MySQL, with a dev friendly api.
  • Granular Security
    Control access based on custom defined groups.
  • Multiple Languages
    Multi-lingual site support, including custom entries.
  • Comment Integration
    Comment on multiple types of site content.
  • Protected Email
    User email information is never displayed publicly.
  • Modular Content
    Blogs, blocks, and pages with WYSIWYG tools.
  • Solid Documentation
    Up to date resources for users and developers.
  • Site Moderation
    Queue user and content submissions.
  • Enhanced RSS Feeds
    Syndicate multiple types of site content.
  • Unified Search
    Site-wide search with Google-like results.

More info: glFusion


Looking for a little versatility to go with your coffee? Textpattern is the product for you. Designed to use template tags, this system is incredibly versatile. There are very few things that cannot be done with Textpattern. It takes a little getting used to but once you try it, it's hard to use anything else.

Not only is this system incredibly small but it's very, very fast. The admin interface can easily be themed and designing a system exactly the way you want is not difficult. There are plenty of plugins and the TXP community is a very active one.

Features include:

Just write

  • Direct, easy to follow interface
  • Quick conversion of plain text to valid XHTML with Textile
  • Browser-based organization and upload of files and images
  • Articles can be protected with a password
  • Adjustable date/time stamps on articles

Design freedom

  • Flexible engine for all kinds of websites, from blogs to corporate sites
  • Unlimited site sections, page layout and styling
  • Browser-based template and CSS editing
  • Human friendly, XML-like templating tag language
  • Standards compliant by default

Secure and stable

  • Anti-spam comment system that works well
  • Thoroughly tested by the community before each release
  • Small disk and memory footprint
  • GPL source code
  • Based upon popular open source components like PHP, MySQL and jQuery

Easy to manage

  • Unlimited site authors can be assigned a variety of posting, editing and design privileges
  • Human-readable clean URLs help SEO and visitors
  • Unlimited article, link, file and image categories
  • Import content from other content management and blog systems
  • Up-to-the-minute visitor logs

Excellent support

  • Forum is renowned for its friendly, helpful community
  • Developers listen and solve problems
  • In-depth wiki documentation
  • Textpattern is available in over 40 languages, and growing

An extensible platform

  • Versatile plugin concept
  • Wide range of plugins provides many extra functions
  • Plugin installation and maintenance is simple: Copy, paste and activate
  • Browser-based plugin installation and maintenance
  • Plugins are simple to write, document and publish with the standard code template or the plugin composer

Sounds like something you'd like to try? Check it out at Textpattern CMS.

That's it for this month. If you haven't tried these systems and you are in the market, they are all free and we recommend you give them a whirl. That's why we love content management so much.. there are tons of great choices out there. Don't be afraid to explore and share your opinions.

If you have one you think is a great product that we should know about, drop us a line (either here or in the comments) and we'll take a look into it.