Concise Introduction to CMS Made Simple

Posted in WordPress on May 15, 2014

CMS Made Simple is a complete content management system that provides many new and unique features unavailable on other systems. In this guide I will give you a concise introduction into CMS Made Simple that includes installation instructions, an overview of the features CMS Made Simple Offers, along with a tutorial on how to create custom templates in CMS Made Simple as well as creating a page from that template.

CMS Made Simple has some exciting features available which include:

Creation of user accounts that can perform selected tasks based on permissions.
Simple integration into existing site designs/templates, along with the ability to set which template each page will use.
A modular structure along with a growing community that offers extra modules.
Actual coding is done on the server’s end, for example to add content you would put the tag ‘{content}’ and the content written on page creation is automatically put there.

This may seem like a lot; however it is only the tip of the ice burg. There are many more reasons which make CMS Made Simple one of the best choices when it comes to content management systems.

First up we have to install CMS Made Simple, you will need to download the latest version which can be found on the download page. For safety reasons it is recommended that you download the latest stable release.

To install and manage CMS Made Simple you will need to have the following:

Basic HTML and CSS knowledge.
A server with MySQL and PHP.
Know the basics of MySQL database management (creation, backup, etc.).

In this guide I will be using my local Apache server for testing purposes; however the steps are the same on a UNIX/Linux environment.

Below is my basic installation guide for CMS Made Simple, to install CMS Made Simple you will need a web server that has PHP and MySQL enabled. Sendmail, is an optional function although is not required (if you are using free hosting solution, you most likely wont have sendmail enabled).

Step One: Using an online file manager upload the CMS Made Simple folder to the root of your web site (unless you wish to make a sub site, then use a folder (eg. ‘blog’). Unzip the contents and ensure the files are inside you installation folder (not ‘yoursite.com/install/cms/’). If you are uploading using FTP, you will need to unzip the folder on your computer and upload each file individually.

Step Two: Navigate your web browser to where the files are you on your website (eg. yoursite.com/blog/ or just yoursite.com/). You should see an install page asking you to select a language. Choose the appropriate language you wish to use for the installation package (the site’s language is setup later).

Step Three: CMS Made Simple will now check your server and files for appropriate permissions. Most likely all will be acceptable except for the ‘config.php’ file. Using a file manager or FTP, create a file and name it config.php (just leave it empty). Hit Try again and you should be able to continue (if not a setting on the server may be stopping you, if you are unsure how to fix on your end contact your sever administrator).

Step Four: A screen will now appear that checks for correct file permissions, again all should go well so just click continue. You will now need to enter details for your admin account. Fill them in and continue. Depending on if your server allows send mail (a PHP function that can send email) you may be emailed your account details, via the email you entered.

Step Five: You will now need to create a database table and user with permissions. You can use ‘phpmyadmin’ or (if available) a tool on you web hosting control panel. Now enter these details into the box and continue. It should all install correctly and print out what it did (blah, blah), hit continue.

Installation is now complete you can either visit your new CMS Made Simple website or install additional add ons.

We will now go over the important administration features. Login your admin account on the page ‘admin/login.php’. You should now see an error telling you the install directory still exists, for safety reasons we must delete this. Using a file manager or FTP, navigate to the root of your CMS Made Simple directory and delete the ‘install’ folder and it’s contents.

You may also be getting an error to do with sendmail being enabled; as it is not really required we will not go over it at this stage. Below is a screenshot of the menu you should be seeing on the main administration page of CMS Made Simple. I will explain each category and sub category in brief then will give examples of the more important features.

Content

Pages: This is where you manage your different pages. You choose a template then enter information into the required fields. The default only requires you to enter some content (which goes where specified by the template) along with a page title. You can also create other required fields and set where they display.

Image Manager: This simply shows you the default image folder where you can manage the images (including ones uploaded when creating a news post).

Global Content Blocks: Similar to user defined tags although there is more versatility here as you can combine function returns and user defined tags here.

File manager: You can use this to upload files, along with renaming and changing their permissions.

News: This is where you add and edit news items to be displayed on the front page of your website. This module is very customisable and allows you to edit how and what your news posts look like. You could also use the news module for an article based system as pages can be set to only display certain categories.

Printer Friendly Pages: The default settings/Style for pages when a user clicks to print them. Basically these will remove all style and just give printable plain text.

Layout

Templates: This is where you put your actual page code. Remember to take out all of the values and to insert the required code, for example ‘{sitename}’ will insert the name of your site when a page is generated. You will also need to assign the stylesheets to each template.

Stylesheets: Here you can generate different stylesheets, they are actually stored in one file and when a page is loaded, the server will automatically insert the code for that page’s assigned stylesheets.

Menu manager: Basically you can use this to setup menus that are automatically put into the pages on the servers end.

Theme Manager: This simply is a tool that allows you to export your page templates (along with their assigned CSS) to file, this is a good way of sharing themes and backing them up too.

Users & Groups

Users: Lists the users currently setup for CMS Made Simple.

Groups: Each group has different permissions so are able to perform different tasks. You may have an admin, designer or editor (which is the default groups).

Group Assignments: Assign your permissions to any specific group.

Group Permissions: Set the permissions for each group. For example an admin has access to all items, an editor is able to create and edit news items (etc.) and a designer is able to modify the templates and stylesheets.

Extensions

Modules: These modules are the core of CMS Made Simple and are the coding for all the neat things CMS Made Simple does for you. You can download more or create your own.

Tags: These are functions that return results and are able to be inserted into any page. One example of this is a function that returns the last user to modify a page, post or item.

Events: Events could be better explained as a set of functions that your CMS runs off.

User Defined tags: Used to insert text into any given page. You setup a tag and give it code or text and when called on a page that code or text is inserted server side.

CMSMailer: Used for the management and setup of sending mail, using the send mail function.

Module Manager: Search extra modules or add ons that can be added

Search: Options for CMS Made Simple’s built in search engine.

TinyMCE: Settings for the text editor built into the administration panel.

Site Admin

Global Settings: The global settings for your CMS Made Simple site, you can set the page name and such things as global Meta data.

Page Defaults: Defaults for all of the pages in your website, which includes Meta data.

System Information: Information on the system you are operating on, includes CMS and PHP/MySQL information, and is handy for trouble shooting errors.

System Verification: Allows you to check that are files are accounted for.

Admin Log: Logs every act that administrators perform.

My Preferences

My Account: Change your account information, such as password or email address.

User Preferences: Your preferences for using the administration control panel.

Manage Shortcuts: Allows you to manage the shortcuts which appear on the widget to the right of your screen.

Now that you have installed CMS Made Simple and have a basic idea of the different features available its time to get right into it and try out some of these features. First of all we are going to setup a new page template for our web site along with it’s own stylesheet. For this example I am going to pull a simple design of the Open Source Web Directory, I have chosen the Zilla Five template as it has no images and is a good example to implement.

OK go to Layouts > Templates then click on the Plus Sign to create a new template. You now need to delete the default text put in there and insert the code from your own html site code. Now what you need to do is to clear the template of all the default text values (sample text), the stylesheet references and even page titles etc.

Using the source code below and the help page (right top corner just below the logout power button) you will enter the basic tags that the CMS system will build the page with. I have only used the basics and am leaving the default menu in there for now.

{process_pagedata}

{sitename}{title}

{metadata}

{stylesheet}

{sitename}

{title}

Home Another Page

navigation

Home
Partners
Services
Locations
Contact

{title}

{content}

{process_pagedata} – Just a tag to tell the PHP server to ‘compile’ the page when it is requested.
{sitename} – The name of the site as stated in the global site settings.
{title} – The title of the specific page is inserted here (you enter it when creating a page off this template).
{metadata} -Includes Meta Data that is put globally and on any specific page.
{stylesheet} – Inserts links to the stylesheet/s associated with this design (we setup stylesheets next).
{content} – The actual content of the page as specified when creating a page.

Now save the page with an appropriate name and your ready to move on. This article will cover the basics when it comes to completing tasks like this, if you need further help there is a manual which can be found under help.

OK now we are going to go to the stylesheets tab to create a stylesheet for our new template. Click on add a style sheet and enter the CSS for the template you are using (if you are following me, the examples CSS is shown below).

body{background-color:#EBEBEB;”value”>impact, sans-serif;}
a{color:#000;text-decoration:none;}
#container{width:800px;height:auot;margin:0 auto;}
#header{width:100%;height:150px;background-color:#069;}
h1{font-size:50px;color:#CCC;margin:15px 0 0 20px;}
h2{font-size:26px;color:#999;margin:0 0 0 60px;}
h3{font-size:22px;color:#069;margin:5px 0 0 5px;}
p{font-size:12px;color:#000;text-align:justify;”value”>Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;margin:0 10px;}
#horiznav{float:right;margin-right:30px;}
#horiznav a{“value”>impact, sans-serif;text-decoration:none;color:#CCC;margin:0 5px;}
#horiznav a:hover{border-bottom:3px solid #999;}
#horiznav a:active{color:#999;border-bottom:3px solid #CCC;}
#vertinav{background-color:#D7D7D7;width:200px;height:100%;float:left;}
#vertinav ul{list-style:none;display:inline;}
#vertinav li a{color:#666;text-decoration:none;margin:0 0 0 5px;}
#vertinav li a:hover{color:#069;}
.vertinavheader{font-size:22px;color:#000;margin-left:5px;}
#vertinavcontent{margin-left:5px;color:#666;”value”>Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;}
#content{background-color:#E4E4E4;float:right;width:600px;}

Now hit save and give the stylesheet a name you will remember. Go back to the templates page and click on the blue speech bubble that has ‘CSS’ on it. Select the relevant CSS file and click add to associate it with your new template.

Now that we have a freshly created custom template, we are going to set it up to work on a new page. You will need to go to content and then pages, here you will see a list of your current pages (most likely the default of four). Click Add new content, where you will be bought to an area to create a new page.

Leave the content type as it is and choose a page title such as ‘testing’. Under the template drop down box choose the template you have just setup, and then below that create the text you want to appear on the page. As the template I am using is very basic there are no styled texts to use although most other templates will include this.

Now click submit and your page will have been created. You are now brought back to the list of pages and if you click on the magnifying glass beside the page you just created a preview of it will open! So far you have setup a custom template with its own CSS and then created a new page that uses that template.

Well that brings us to the end of our first guide on CMS Made SImple, as you might have seen from the in-depth introduction we have given you CMS Made Simple Really does have a lot to offer. We are currently working on more guides and tutorials for CMS Made Simple so leave a comment below to make a request.

Thanks for reading and if you liked this article why not: post a comment, share it using the links below, or just subscribe for more great web related articles.

By Ryan Bailey

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