DB-Free CMS Prototypes


1) CMS for Dummies (or those without a lot of administrative rights)

While a typical db-driven CMS may be good for many people, it requires more initial setup and a bit of expertise and access to make it happen. A robust and sophisticated CMS could conceivably be built storing all the data in files instead, and using PHP or some other server-side language to put it all together in different ways. Templates and themes could be used, settings, links, and common headers, etc. could all be a part of this, and instead of using a lot of propietary code, this CMS would use standard for everything.

2) Low-bandwidth CMS for low-tech servers

In many places around the world, bandwidth and modern web servers with current versions of MySQL or some other database can be quite limited. Most off-the-shelf CMS’s do a lot of sophisticated work, but can be quite resource intensive. A CMS that prioritizes small transfers of data and low overhead for the servers and users could save lots of money and time over the course of the

3) In-line Site Editor

Many CMSs make all the data modular, and if somebody wants to update content in the sidebar, the main area, and the navigation, they may have to go to three or more places to make these changes. By moving all of the content into HTML files and allowing the links to be embedded into the files themselves, editing can occur in the browser on the same page.


I’ve created a few prototype pages to see if I can get some of the functionality I would like in a CMS like this. In my mind, the basic phases that I have to worry about are the design phase (choosing and enabling certain objects to be editable), the edit phase (where changes can be made directly to the text) and the admin area, where files can be managed and links can be created between pages.

Test Site

Look and Feel

It’s still kind of early for me in the process, but a big part of any direction I choose in this CMS, I think it is important that most of the administration happens in the browser page. It may make technical sense to manage the content away from the layout and styles, but quite often it makes more sense to the user to see the changes as they happen, and to picture the scale, position and it’s relevance as they develop it. Here are a couple of early mock-ups I’ve made: