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Benoit Schumacher "Webmaster" (Switzerland)

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CMS Made Simple 1.6: Beginner's Guide
CMS Made Simple 1.6: Beginner's Guide
by Sofia Hauschildt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have Guide / Reference to CMS Made Simple, 23 May 2010
The book is a great guide to have in ones bookshelf. The book is straightforward, well structured and easy to read. It only took me a couple of hours to read it through once and I learned quite a few things. The book follows a step-by-step approach in guiding the reader from the basics of what a CMS is, advantages of using CMS Made Simple, basics of a templating system, how to install and configure the system, customizing and system and the look, and provides an overview of the important core modules as well as recommended third party modules.

This book is a great read for beginners, just as the title implies, but that is not to say an advanced webmaster cannot learn anything or gain anything from it. I think having this book is a great reference, and saves a lot of time from searching the CMS's websites wiki, documentation, forge and forums. Anyone with basic knowledge of the web should be able to read this book and setup a website with out much hassle.

The author also provides many tips and tools she recommends throught out the book. These involve hosting choices, server requirements, website planning and management among others. The book does have some more advanced chapters towards the end on topics such as e-commerce, SEO, multi-lingual websites and modules.

I really liked the authors introduction to the Smary Template Engine. I have gotten familiar with Smarty of the years, but never read all the documentation. The authors explanations were simple and very usefull. She explains everything one needs to know in order to be able to create his / her own templates easily.

The book provides many examples to accompany the explanations, one of these shows how to take an existing html design and create a CMS Made Simple template from it. Regarding Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), there is a chapter providing general guidelines on how to go about it and how the CMS can help achieve this.

For those wanting to sell through their website, its possible with CMS Made Simple and the author explains how to go about this. A whole chapter is dedicated to this e-commerce topic and points out the third party modules recommended in order to setup a product catalog with a shopping cart. This CMS is not meant to be used for e-commerce only sites, but can easily allow to sell a few products. The author recommends to use more specific solutions if a website is meant to be a full blown shop and nothing else.

Sofia Hauschildt nicely explains how to create custom catalog based content structures using the module CTLModuleMaker. Unfortunately, I was hoping to have some guide as to how to developp a custom module from scratch, but I would imagine that would be covered in a book targeting more advanced developpers.

The book shows how to setup a multi-lingual website using the Babel module, how to protect pages with passwords using FrontEndUsers and CustomContent, how to use the core modules such as Print and News, setup forms using the FormBuilder module and a few more.

Other than the fact that I would have liked to see more advanced topics such as how to create a module from scratch, I found that the pop quizzes after each chapter did not really help me much and the book could do with out.

Certain documentations on the CMS's website are lacking or not always very clear. I found that this book greatly helps with that and is a worthwile investment for someone looking to work with this really simple CMS.

I was asked to review this book by Packt Publishing.

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