Dropkick CMS

Yuzool Themes

If we had one pound sterling for every time someone came on the Rapidweaver forums and asked for a decent CMS (content management system) for our favourite web design program, then we probably wouldn’t be earning a crust doing this.

Helpful forum answers usually go along the following lines: try Kuler Edits for single editable sections on a page; or for something more complex, look to WebYep, PageLime, Pulse CMS or Nimblehost’s Armadillo; or if you’re prepared to root out an old, unsupported copy, there’s always SiteCake and – still our go-to CMS  – ClientEdit.

Unfortunately, there was usually something ‘up’ with each of these recommendations – too limited, too opaque, ongoing fees, no stacks to make integrating it with Rapidweaver nice and easy – always something, and although some users were clearly able to produce effective CMS-based sites for themselves and their clients, the problem wasn’t solved and the question kept being asked: where’s the CMS for Rapidweaver?

It’s here, and it’s called Dropkick CMS.

First, let’s be clear what Dropkick doesn’t do. It doesn’t turn Rapidweaver into WordPress and it doesn’t allow you to create new pages, and it doesn’t let you alter the style or design of a theme. What it does do however, is allow you to create multiple editable areas on a website and set up multiple users with different privileges to edit them and wrap the whole thing in a simple, clean white-label interface that you can brand yourself. Dropkick is also a one-off purchase that can be used again and again on as many websites as you like.

Experienced users will find the Installation is pretty straightforward, though it does present one or two hoops that need to be navigated. First, you’ll need to create a new MySQL database on your web server, then create a user for that database and then ‘connect’ the two. To the uninitiated, this sounds like it’s going to be a deeply unpleasant experience but it actually isn’t; we would however, recommend you check your host’s documentation on how to do this or enlist the services of their support staff if you’re uncertain.

Next step is to upload the various Dropkick files and folders to your web server using an FTP program, after which you’ll need to edit the `config.php` file with a plain text editor to add four bits of crucial information – the host name, the user name, password and database name. You’ll set up all of this information when you create the MySQL database and Yuzool provides a number of tutorials to walk you through this and Dropkick’s various other features.

Once that’s done, you navigate to your website and follow the instructions to install Dropkick and then set up an admin user – this will be you if it’s your website and the client  if you’re building it for someone else. So, to recap, the process goes like this:

  1. Download Dropkick
  2. Install the single Dropkick stack into Rapidweaver
  3. Create a MySQL database, user and then link them together
  4. Upload your Dropkick files to your web server
  5. Edit the `config.php` file to add the details of your MySQL database
  6. Run the online installation
  7. Create an admin user

You’ll then have a fully functioning CMS to which you can add new content – text, pictures, links and more.

If you’ve only ever created content inside Rapidweaver and then published it, you’ll have to get to grips with a whole new way of working – because if you want to be able to edit something using Dropkick, you have to create it with Dropkick. Here’s how it works.

You start at the Dropkick admin page and click the ‘New page’ icon (this is immediately confusing because you’re not creating a new page, you’re creating a new content area – Dropkick does not allow you to create new website pages). Give the content area a name that makes it easy to identify; something like ‘Front page text’ or ‘List of special offers’ and then add your content using the Word-style editing window were you’ll find plenty of ways to format your text (though we’d recommend you keep things simple and let your chosen theme do all the heavy lifting for you).

When you’re done, publish the page. As of now, nothing will appear on the site because creating a new content area is a two step process. Step two involves switching to Rapidweaver and adding a new Dropkick stack to the page wherever you’d like the content to appear. Flip back to the Dropkick admin page and you’ll see that next to each item of content you created is a piece of code, highlighted in blue. Copy and paste this code snippet as plain text text into the Dropkick stack, apply ‘Ignore Formatting’ from the Rapidweaver Formatting menu and publish your site again. Flip back to the browser, load the site, refresh the page if necessary and your new content will appear.  So again, here’s the process:

  1. Create a new content area
  2. Give it a name that makes sense
  3. Add your content
  4. Publish it
  5. Switch to Rapidweaver and add the Dropkick stack
  6. Get the code associated with your content and paste it into the stack, making sure ‘Ignore Formatting’ is selected and applied
  7. Publish the site and refresh your browser to see your changes

Once you’ve got the hang of it, this is a quick and intuitive way of working. It’s also incredibly flexible. Got a calendar of events you’d like to repeat throughout the site? Create the content and then paste the code snippet into the Dropkick stack and put that on every page that needs to display the calendar – now when someone updates the content, it’s updated on every page, just like that. Got a slider like Elixir’s Orbit that accepts text stacks? Create a content area for each slide, upload your pictures and you’ve got a user-editable slideshow. Users can embed videos into Dropkick content areas or place content inside accordions, add them to the sidebar or to any area that allows you to paste in a code snippet.

Dropkick is also a good choice if you’re building sites for clients. It’s ‘white label’ so you can add their logo (or your own) to the admin page, you can create multiple users and assign them either Admin or Editor status; and everyone gets a nice www.website.com/cms page where they login.

In the current implementation, the only things we’d change are the confusing ‘New Page’ nomenclature – it just makes more sense to set this to ‘New Content’ – and the ability to add a user photo without having to sign up to the Gravatar service. There are plenty of things we’d like to see, but for now we’d settle for better organisation of the admin window – perhaps a folder structure that reflects the site itself and makes it easier to navigate large sites; for small ones it probably doesn’t matter.

Dropkick is a game-changer for Rapidweaver, a CMS from an active, engaged RW developer that’s powerful, easy to use, doesn’t require any ongoing fees, supports multiple users and can be branded by those who sell their RW development services to clients. And all for $30.00.

Rob Beattie

Rob Beattie is a freelance copywriter who designs sites using Rapidweaver. He's been reviewing computer hardware, software and web services since 1981. Yes...that long. And he's also the author of 101 Things to Do in a Shed , Fishing: A Very Peculiar History , and The Bluffer's Guide to Fishing

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