Squirrel Notes Issue #25

This issue was published on Friday, March 15, 2019.

RSG Looks Back: For their 20-year anniversary, Tony Byrne from Real Story Group posted a lovely recollection of the CMS industry: Two Decades of Web Content Management Technology

It's full of gems like this:

We completed our first CMS Report in September 2001… The two early darlings were Interwoven and Vignette… The most striking thing about both vendors was how consistently unhappy their customers were. Some are still suffering.

I love CMS history, and I'm still tempted to start my “CMS Back in the Day” podcast. Someday.


Git as a CMS: I've seen several instances of people using Github as a CMS/wiki. They leverage the built-in capabilities of Markdown, versioning, and pull requests to collaborate on content, rather than code.


Another example of low-tech CMS is Karen McGrane's blog-ish, newsletter-ish, public Google Doc in which she writes random stories, then tweets a link to, then deletes later and starts over. (Shades of txti from our last issue.)

And in case you thought that's a little nuts, know that all the cool kids are doing it. Remember Google Wave? It lives, apparently.


WordPress Newspack: On the heels of all the newspaper-specific CMSs that have popped up, Google is helping WordPress deliver a publisher-focused distribution called Newspack. It's gathered $2.4 million in funding from Google and other sources, and it seems to be a very serious attempt to disrupt a market that's barely gotten started.


The Fourth Wall of CMS: I wrote a long and abstract blog post a few weeks ago about the idea of content “projection”: Breaking the Fourth Wall of Content

What are we supposed to believe about the origins of the content we consume? Are we supposed to believe that this content just exists, suspended in some fantasy world, waiting to be magically cast out to our browsers, all Harry Potter-like? Or are we always aware that there's a more raw, less refined version of the content somewhere else that was transformed into something more palatable for us to consume it?

I talk a bit about the difference between intranet users and public website users, and my friend, intranet expert James Robertson from Step Two, had some neat thoughts to add:

What that means is that content closer to the top and centre (eg HR, finance, IT)… should be carefully crafted and managed. I would also suggest that you would hide the 4th wall…

As you move down and out, the content becomes relevant to smaller audiences or to more specific tasks… perhaps this is where the 4th wall gets progressively more broken, with the line between publisher and user becoming steadily more blurred?

(James's comments will make much more sense after reading the post itself.)


Content Distribution Across Contentful and Episerver: My friend Allan was a longtime Episerver employee, now out on his own at CodeArt. Playing off my rambling about distributed content, he has a neat proof-of-content here showing how to source a section of the Episerver content tree from content stored in Contentful.

Why do this? Because you might very well have people who need to manage a list of simple, templating content that simply don't need to know the bigger picture. They just need to do This. One. Thing.

There's a lot of code there, but Allan's comments and the screencaps are worth it just to frame the basic concept of distributed CMS.