Squirrel Notes is an email newsletter about CMS and other content technologies. It publishes twice each month.

This issue was published on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

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The Wikipedia Content Management Portal. I've linked to a lot of CMS articles on Wikipedia, so I started to build a list of them. I thought about publishing it on my book site, but then I realized that Wikipedia has support for something like this: Portals.

Introducing: The Wikipedia Content Management Portal.

I wanted to link to 100 different articles on CMS, but I only got to 68 before running out. Perhaps you'll find more.

This being Wikipedia...

  • The "unveiling" just means I added it to some lists.

  • You're welcome to edit it. As of this moment, it belongs to the world.

Be forewarned: editing a portal page is not for the faint-of-heart, but Wikipedia is built around people just figuring stuff out, so have at it.

CityDesk. For an upcoming talk in Stockholm, I've been doing some CMS archeology. I actually installed CityDesk the other day, which was a very early desktop-based CMS by Fog Creek (now Glitch). The guy behind it was Joel Spolsky, who went on to create Stack Overflow, then build and sell Trello.

I found this article from 2001 on Spolsky's blog: What Does CityDesk Do?

It's a fun read. He talks about ground-breaking things like:

  • "The built-in word processor is WYSIWYG ('What You See Is What You Get') and includes a spell checker, word counter, find and replace, and formatting commands."

  • "People who don't know anything about HTML or web servers can easily add, edit, and remove articles from a web site"

  • "CityDesk can also keep track of articles that need to be held until a certain date."

CityDesk still holds up, all these years later. It's decoupled, has a simple templating engine, FTP support, and custom fields. Everything is bundled in a single ".cty" file (which I suspect is actually a Microsoft JET database).

(True story: I've long-considered a limited podcast series on "CMS Back in the Day." Whenever I'm reminded of things like CityDesk, I get one step closer. Feel free to talk me into this.)

How a CMS Affects the Content In It. Here's an interesting article: In the Shadow of the CMS

First, it's an article about CMS for non-CMS people, which is rare.

Second, it reflects on the idea that CMSs are affecting the content that goes in them, and are therefore having an affect on the media the public consumes.

[...] a free, convenient paywall CMS could make new kinds of coverage possible on a small scale. In the meantime, readers will have to decide which corporate CMSs are most acceptable. The CMS that a publication relies on could influence the kind of content it decides to publish.

A Spreadsheet as a CMS. The title of this article says it all: "Wait, You Write In A Spreadsheet?"

I blogged this back in 2003, but that was about simple, structured data. These people actually used a CMS to generate highly-composed media-driven features. The methodology they used is either hilarious or terrifying, and I think they'd agree with that, but I just love stories about weird CMS work.

Their process eventually (thankfully?) morphed into a product called Stacker.

Revisiting Umbraco. I've been spending some time with the latest version of Umbraco lately, and I'm prepared to make a claim: I don't understand why this CMS isn't as popular as Drupal. It's just surprisingly great at everything.

Yes, yes, I do understand: because .NET isn't as popular in the open-source world as the LAMP stack is in the open-source world. Still, my point remains: Umbraco is a fantastic CMS, and far beyond what I expected.