Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CMS Ratings: CMSimple vs. WebsiteBaker

On a five star rating, I give WebsiteBaker 4.5 stars and I give CMSimple 2 stars.

I and my classmates have been learning about and using the two Content Management Systems (CMS) CMSimple and WebsiteBaker for the last several weeks. I have been so focused on learning html and css for the past year that I found creating templates for a CMS difficult at first. The new mindset takes some getting used to. In this blog I compare my experiences with the two CMSs.

Features – Likes and Dislikes:

What I like about CMSimple is the ease of installation and backup. What I don’t like about CMSimple is that there is very little support online for learning how to use it, the editing style of creating pages is inconvenient, and I did not find an easy way to embed videos.  I discuss this further on in this blog.

What I like about WebsiteBaker is my familiarity with the editor and separation of pages; the abundance of cool add-ons, plugins, and modules; and the availability of online help. What I don’t like about WebsiteBaker compared to CMSimple is the complexity of installation and backup. Of course, most CMSs use the more complicated method, so this disliked feature would become moot when comparing WebsiteBaker with more powerful CMSs like WordPress or Joomla. The CMS Drupal is in its own category and I will not be going there for this class.

Client Use:

I  recommend that clients use WebsiteBaker because they will recognize the structure of the editor if they are familiar with Microsoft products. I certainly like the editor in WebsiteBaker better than the editor in CMSimple. It is easy enough to explain the strange way of making pages in CMSimple and what not to do when creating content; so if the client would rather have less to learn in regards to installation and backup, CMSimple could be a better choice for them.


The installation of CMSimple is by far the easier of the two CMSs. You go to the website to download the CMSs in their zipped folders. You save the unzipped contents into the htdocs folder of your chosen server. I used Server2go with the addition of the database administrator PhpMyAdmin in the admin folder of Server2go.  With WebsiteBaker and most other CMSs, the CMS has to actually be installed into the server after the unzipped folder is placed in the htdocs folder before it will function. For detailed instructions on installing WebsiteBaker, I recommend the tutorial video by Jonathan Ross, Using WebsiteBaker, part2, Installing WB. The installation process is fairly simple but for a newbie it can seem complicated. The nice thing about CMSimple is that it functions immediately – No installation necessary. CMSimple wins in this category.


I weigh both CMSs about the same in regards to the templating process. The templates themselves appear quite foreign to someone who only knows html/css. I recoded an existing html site to match the requirements of each of the two CMSs. CMSimple uses only html for its template code while WebsiteBaker uses php, hence the need for PhpMyAdmin. Other than that, they appear similar.
A short line of code replaces nearly all of the html code including the navigation lists and contents. What remains are the divisions with their classes or ids; so the css that was originally created will still function after a few tweaks here and there. For instance, each CMS has its own unique code for the navigation lists; so the “you are here” function of the navigation buttons must be addressed specifically in the css for each CMS. You can view the source code of the page to see the variations between CMSs. The paragraph and image tags are then relocated to the editor section where they are still referred to by css.


The contents that were removed from the template must then be placed in the editor, which is usually WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) and with administrative allowance, the editor can be manipulated in code view. I think it is easier to create a template and edit it in WebsiteBaker because the structure of the html code in the editor is closer to the regular html format that I’m accustomed to using.

CMSimple places a different meaning on the H1 through H3 tags, so that they define the pages. In CMSimple, all code is located on one page and it is then divided into (H1) main pages and (H2 to H3) subpages. Each page also becomes a tab on the main navigation. In CMSimple, your H1 tagged page heading is at the top of the page and next H1 tag you use will create a new page, so if you want to make headings and subheadings within a page, you have to start with H4 and go up. Then you can style these tags with css. I suppose CMSimple is okay once you get used to it; but WebsiteBaker’s ability to actually make pages with their own unique editors is appealing to me.


CMSimple backup is without a doubt the easiest because all one has to do is to make a copy of the CMSimple folder from the htdocs folder of the server. With most CMSs, including WebsiteBaker, a backup of the database must be exported through a database management system, like PhpMyAdmin or MySQL. It is also recommended that you backup all other FTP-data such as pages, media, modules and templates. WebsiteBaker has a backup module that makes backing up your site as easy as pushing a button. There is a security warning dated March 27 2010 on the WebsiteBaker website against using the Backup Module in the WB Core until further notice.

However, as of September 13, 2010, there is a fixed and enhanced backup module that works like a charm. Simply go to the link, download the backup module and install it. Installation is done by clicking on the Add-ons tab, then clicking the Modules link, then choosing the downloaded zipped folder and finally, clicking the installation button. The new module can then be found in the Admin-Tools.


I like putting videos in my site so I decided to look at how easy it would be to do this in these two CMSs. WebsiteBaker ROCKS!! You just have to create a droplet. You go to YouTube to copy some embed code to paste in the right place later. Back in WebsiteBaker; go to Admin-Tools then droplets. Press the add droplets button. Paste the code in the code section and give the droplet a name and description. Break up the code in logical places, since there is no word wrap. Then write return’ at the front of the embed code and ‘; at the end to wrap it up properly. In the description, write the code [[youtube]] as a hint as to what needs to be placed in the editor. Save what you’ve done then go back to a page and write [[youtube]] in the editor. Save that and then the video appears on the page.

For a generic YouTube droplet, remove the specific address code for the video, which is the string of characters between embed/ and . Replace the string of characters with ‘.$ID.’ Then change the code in the description and editor to [[youtube?ID=x]], where x is the identifying character string. $ID is a php variable so it has to have an ID passed to it in order for it to exist. The ID is the character string (x) that is written in the editor of a page. You’ll find the character string in the embed code of your chosen video.

The width and height can also be made generic by replacing width=”480” with width=”’.$W.’” and height=”600” with height=”’.$H.’” followed by adding &W=400&H=600 after the character string in the calling code. For example, [[youtube?ID=x&W=480&H=600]], where x is the identifying character string between embed/ and of the embed code.

This process may seem complicated to a newbie but it really is simple and easy to accomplish. On the other hand, CMSimple is WOEFUL for embedding video. I did a Google search for adding video in the CMS. One plugin I found, VideoAll, apparently doesn’t exist anymore since the links don’t work.

I saw another plugin, fdevideo – version 1.1-2010, which is actually referenced by CMSimple but; unfortunately, I couldn’t read the French instructions. However, if you download the zipped plugin, open the help folder, and look at the help document, you’ll see some recognizable code that's, well, mostly in English.  Also, some pages can be translated by Google into English, but not that help page. With more experience, I could guess what needs to be done based on how other plugins are installed and used.  I am disturbed by the lack of support for CMSimple.

Featured Video:

I would like to High-Five my class instructor Jonathan Ross for making an excellent series of videos about WebsiteBaker and particularly the video about droplets. If you didn’t understand my description, this video will show you how to embed video into WebsiteBaker and more.


  1. When talking about clients, you say that WebsiteBaker wins because of the familiar editor. What about users/groups in WebsiteBaker? Wouldn't that make WebsiteBaker the better choice for any client?

  2. Hi Kaitlyn, I do think that WebsiteBaker is the better choice for any client because the webmaster can control which users and groups have access to certain parts of the editor section of a website. This means that someone with very little knowledge can change their content without destroying the template since they will have limited permissions. On the other hand, the webmaster will know which people should have permission to affect more changes on the website based on their knowledge of code as well as their position in the business.

  3. Hey Lisa!

    Yeah, I'd definitely agree with you there. I didn't think about the fact that some clients (or members of a business) might actually have some coding knowledge and, thus should have access to the code!

  4. Hi Kaitlyn,

    I think that most small business owners don't know code, which is why they would hire someone to build their website for them. There could be a few people that know some of the basics of html and css who might want more control over their own website and it's good when a CMS allows for that. It's also good that the CMS can restrict website owners from destroying their template by playing with things they don't understand. As a blogger, using someone else's template here, I appreciate that I have the ability and permission to make a few changes in the css styles.

    In my previous comment, I was thinking more in terms of a larger corporate structure that might have a team of people working on a website. With this knowledge about code, we could work as free-lancers or we could get a job working in the web development field. That job could be part of a team or as an individual. The job could be for a web development company or it could be for the business itself. The possibilities are endless, so it's good to have the variable use of users/groups.