Craft - The Wonderfully Clean CMS

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Ross Brandon
04.09.15

We just finished our our second website build using Craft, a relatively new content management system. It was created by a development shop called Pixel and Tonic who are responsible for creating some of the most used and well liked add-ons for another CMS called ExpressionEngine (which we also really like and use depending on the the project scope).

Built on PHP

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Craft is built on a PHP framework called Yii and uses a template engine called Twig. Of course there has been a bit of a learning curve for us since we have only used it for two projects but it has not been a steep curve because everything from the application itself to the documentation and support processes are well thought through.

One of the things that stands out most is the interface. It is very “clean”, which to me is an overused word in this business, but the Craft admin area truly is “clean”. It just feels so simple which we love as the builders of the site, and clients love as the content administrators. It truly is starting with a clean slate… and its “responsive” which certainly isn’t a bad thing this day and age.

What we really love is the combination of this simplicity with the power and flexibility of it. It can handle really any content structure out of the box, with the matrix field type providing the ultimate flexibility. Field creation and ordering is amazingly easy without having to install any third party code. Craft is so flexible and there are such a variety of ways to setup up sections, fields, assets, etc, it can sometimes slow us down a bit because we have some internal back and forth on the best way to structure something. This, in the long run is a good thing and we wouldn’t turn down the flexibility for anything.

Asset Management

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The handling of assets right out of the box, without add-ons of any sort, is amazingly easy and intuitive. Also, the already built in image manipulation piece called “image transforms” is another feature we (along with our clients) really love.

Updates Are Easier Than Ever

One last thing… The single click CMS updating is amazing. This process in other frameworks can be a little painful.

Anyway, Craft is just one of many quality platforms that you can manage site content with. We wanted to write about it because it is fresh on our minds and while there are some things about it that are common to other content managements systems, there are quite a few features and user experience details that really make it standout amongst the competition.


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