GoCMS | Basecode | $79.00 per domain

Go back a year or two and a small but vocal group of Rapidweaver users were clamouring for a way to allow users to edit websites without having access to a copy of the software. This would make it easy to edit sites on-the-go from a phone, tablet or (gulp) Windows laptop – and allow clients to update sites without having to incur costly by-the-hour-charges from their designer. The lack of a friendly, functional content management system or CMS, was seen by many as one of the key limitations of Rapidweaver when compared with, for example, WordPress.

Fortunately, that’s no longer the case, and we now have a variety of ways to edit content without using Rapidweaver. There are ‘mini-CMSs’ like Sentry and Edits and more sophisticated ones like Edits Pro which allow multiple users to edit content. Then there’s Pulse CMS which has a WordPress-style dashboard and lets you add more sophisticated types of content like blogs or image galleries, and finally EasyCMS and TotalCMS which feature rich integrations with other stacks and allow you to build your own Stacks-based CMS to control the site’s content. So there’s a lot of choice.

And now there’s even more.

What GoCMS brings to the party is simplicity, clever design, good support for popular services like YouTube, Vimeo and Soundcloud and – importantly for many users – on-page editing; in other words, you don’t have to use a dashboard or back-end to edit your content – you simply edit it on the page.

Installation is straightforward. Buy your copy of GoCMS, assign it to a specific domain, add a password and then grab the tiny php file which links everything together. Drag this into the Resources section of Rapidweaver, download the four free GoCMS stacks and you’re done. The next step is drag the GoCMS Base stack onto any page you’d like to make editable and then drag out a GoCMS Content stack. Publish your project and then open it in a web browser. You’ll see the Content stack on the page with some dummy Lorem Ipsum text inside it. To edit the Content stack, hold down the special key combination (Ctrl+Shift+x) and then type in the password you created when you purchased GoCMS. Press return and you’ll see a dotted line appear around the Content stack and you can now start editing. Click anywhere inside the Content stack and then delete what’s there so you can replace it with your own text. If you like you can use the floating toolbar to format your text with bold, italic, H1, H2 and H3 headers, change the size in increments and align it left, right or centre; alternatively, if you’re familiar with Markdown, you can use some – though not all – of the common Markdown commands to format your content.

Content stacks are for more than just text, however. You can also add individual images to display as-is, images that display as thumbnails which open in a lightbox (complete with captions) and can be turned into galleries, as well as image slideshows. On top of that, GoCMS makes it easy to add videos hosted on YouTube and Vimeo, songs, playlists and albums stored on Soundcloud, a Google map, or a Cartloom Product or Group; this last option makes it a particularly nifty add-on for users of this e-commerce platform. In each case, adding a picture or bringing in something from an external source involves either dragging it onto the GoCMS toolbar or pasting it (if it’s a URL) into the GoCMS address field. Once that’s done, you just drag the ‘+’ icon into the Content stack and drop it into position.

The way GoCMS has been constructed means it’s best suited to adding content into what you might call ‘structural’ stacks – like columns, grids, or masonry-style Stacks like Elixir’s excellent Bricks stack. It will work with some tab stacks we tried, but not inside modal stacks like Stacks4Stacks’ TopBox or Elixir’s Focus stack. We’re not aware of a list of stacks that GoCMS has been tested with either, so if you’re planning to use it with something specific, it’ll be worth checking with the authors first. You should also be aware that if you use the built-in backup/restore feature, that GoCMS content stacks placed inside other stacks won’t be restored if those other stacks have been deleted in the meantime.

The second element included with every GoCMS license is a blog which comes with the kinds of features you’d expect – new posts in date order, support for tags, categories, Disqus commenting, social sharing and so on.

Once you’ve added the Blog stack to a Stacks page and published, you log into GoCMS in the usual way. After that, it’s a very different screen. Instead of the standard text area with a dotted line around it, you see a much more sophisticated empty template, ready for you to fill in with a photo (or slideshow) heading, author name, date, categories and tags and text. Above that you’ll also see a ‘=’ button which opens a ‘drawer’ to reveal a selection of useful options, so you can specify the length of the blog excerpt, which social media links to use, whether to enable Disqus for comments, what to label categories and tags, whether to have a global footer for the blog and more (no sign of RSS support, however). There’s also a choice of four layout options for the blog which can be accessed here – Traditional (like the built-in blog page type) Modern (an attractive card-style display) Headlines (a smaller two column layout with the pictures on the left and text on the right) and Grid (a compact columnar layout with pictures on top). In this way you’ll find something to fit in with the rest of your site’s design.

We’ve mentioned the ease of on-page editing offered by GoCMS but there’s a price to pay. Content stacks aren’t ‘identified’ as such, so if you create a set of news items on your home page using GoCMS and then decide to re-locate that content stack to a dedicated News page, the actual content would not go with the stack, and you’d have to enter it all over again (or copy and paste it). For those used to being able to drag stacks around their projects, trying out different layouts, this is going to take some getting used to.

There are other limitations too – if you add a three picture slide show and want to re-order the slides, you’ll have to delete it and start again; and the built-in slider doesn’t auto-advance, which seems a strange omission. In addition, editing pictures and slideshows in the blog stack is inconsistent; sometimes it works, sometimes the picture disappears and you have to delete the entire post and start over, sometimes you get dumped out and have to log in again. And sometimes it works fine.

GoCMS has plenty to offer the Rapidweaver user who wants to be able edit text and photographs and add blog entries from a web browser, directly onto the page. It requires minimal set up, looks great, and is easily the most elegant way of allowing clients to add Soundcloud tracks, albums and playlists around. It doesn’t have the power – or integration with third party stacks – of Joe Workman’s EasyCMS for example (and that’s a cheaper, single one-off purchase) but it’s much quicker to deploy because there’s no ‘back-end’ to build.

The developer – Basecode – is actually a joint venture from Nick Cates and Yabdab, both Rapidweaver developers of note, so we’re convinced that GoCMS will continue to develop and improve with each new release – and even at this stage it’s definitely worth exploring for anyone who prefers a CMS which offers on-page editing.

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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