Update: I ended up abandoning this project, because of lack of time, and the rise of the excellent pho-king site.

In an earlier post I mentioned a new site I’m working on – My goal is to make it THE pho destination site on the web (pho is Vietnamese beef noodle soup). One thing going for it already is that there’s no competition (if you Google “pho” you won’t find much beyond individual restaurant sites and recipes). The main feature will be restaurant reviews. For the traveler seeking pho, the site will be a godsend, as there are few things that are more satisfying than a good bowl of pho, and few things more disappointing than a bad one. I’m hoping that the content will be community driven, so I won’t have to do much beyond admin once the site is up and running.

I’ve been building the site with TikiWiki, but it’s been an exercise in frustration, so I’m going to try something else. I started with TikiWiki because I was unfamiliar with CMS (content management systems) and TikiWiki was the first one I came across. I was dazzled by the massive feature set. But TikiWiki is just big and ugly. The installation requires installing the files for all the features, even if you only want to use a fraction of them – it can really eat into your disk quota. The admin screens are a maze, and it takes a lot of effort to become familiar with where all the controls are. Many of the included themes don’t really work (bad css), and it’s fairly opaque in terms of understanding the modularity (i.e. figuring out how to customize anything involves a lot of hacking). Even with the nicer themes, it also just doesn’t look very good.

So I’ve been exploring some other options. I was on the verge of installing PHP Nuke, but then I found XOOPS. XOOPS looks like it’s very lean and modular. It appears to have a slower development cycle than PHP Nuke, which is a good thing (with only a handful of new versions of the core each year, module developers have a more stable environment to work in). Also, it seems to have a smaller and more professional community of developers – there aren’t a bazillion maybe-it-works-maybe-it-doesn’t add-on modules, and from what I can see the add-ons they do have are fairly stable. Lastly, it looks like someone already developed a “reviews” module, which may save me some work (XOOPS, like most CMS systems, comes with a built-in news/articles module, but that doesn’t quite provide everything you need for doing something like restaurant reviews).

If anyone reading this knows a thing or two about any other good CMS options, feedback is appreciated, Thanks.


  1. Reply
    PatW April 21, 2004

    I’m pretty happy with Ez-Publish ( Its open source, but there is a company behind it so the development is very well guided. It takes little bit to get the hang of the template language but once you do it works like a charm. My only complaint is that its a little slow when pages aren’t cached and the cache only lasts an hour (as is the way with my site most of the time its not cached because no one goes to it). This is being taken care with the next release, currently in Alpha with an expected release by May or June I think, You can also get around this issue with some good use of wget but I haven’t implemented it yet.

    Currently it requires a php install with more then 8 megs of memory allocated to it. It really is a really robust system and you can run multiple sites off of one installation, just by pointing Domains to it and setting up like 2 files. You could probably throw everything in into it and not loose any functionality.

    Another option you could consider is to tweak Movable Type to suit your needs. You’d be suprised how much you can squeeze out of this thing.


  2. Reply
    PatW April 22, 2004

    I love following up my own posts. Check out it lets you try out default installs of pretty much all the open source cms’ out there (except for Plone since its based on Zope and that’s sort of hard to install in an a web space provider). A lot of people really like Drupal.


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