Choosing between a CMS (with a REST API) and Contentful

Contentful is a competitor to CMSes like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. In fact the company specifically targets the classic CMS market directly on their website:

Like a CMS… without the bad bits.

How well does this statement hold water? First of all you have to consider the limited scope that Contentful targets. They only provide a CRUD and an API for their proprietary Content Repository.

For many use cases this is enough. If you’ve got an iOS/Android API that you want to complement with FAQs, for example then this is what Contentful works very well for. The provided APIs, SDKs and Documentation are top notch – and as a centrally controlled Commercial Entity they are arguably more stable than an Open Source effort which can lack direction.

Where Contentful does nothing is website management.. There are no tools for creating menus, no tree like structure to visualise your site’s information architecture. In simple cases it’s fine just to push content to a repository and pull it out with Angular 2 front end of a Metalsmith site generator.

But if your business needs focuses heavily Content and managing the the experience visitors get – then you’ll likely be better off with a Content Management System (CMS), which provides a lot of the tools you need to work on a site / web application on a daily basis. Managing content lifts, layouts, site languages and more dynamically is an effort that you’ll need to do manually then. And this is potentially a lot of work.

So Contentful is useful, but it’s hardly the only thing you’ll need to run a content based business like a Media Portal. You’ll need to add custom features, which will eat on the promise of simplifying and focusing on content.

Learn more about CMSes, Contentful and other options:


WordPress and HTTP/2 Support

HTTP/2 is a new version of the protocol powering the world wide web. It offers some great improvements over the older version. If you are unsure if your installation of WordPress already runs on HTTP/2 then your can use this online HTTP/2 checker service.

WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that powers over a quarter of the web according to some estimates. At this scale the improvements offered by the new version of the protocol become very significant. WordPress itself does not handle HTTP traffic and you can’t get an upgrade to HTTP/2 by upgrading your WordPress installation.

To enable WordPress to serve HTTP/2 then you’ll need to have a web server that supports it. Popular web servers like Apache and Nginx already do this in their latest versions, but it’s not yet on by default. In addition to a compatible server you’ll also need an SSL certificate. There is a thriving business in providing certificates, but now there is also a free option that should boost the adoption of HTTP/2.

Learn more on what HTTP/2 is and how it improves the web for all of us by reading these articles on HTTP/2. The next time your WordPress provider talks about hosting, make sure to check that the new server will

HTTP/2 on your WordPress site means a better user experience, improved performance and less strain on planet earth.

Does the Technical Debt of WordPress Matter?

WordPress values backwards compatibility and user experience. For years WordPress users have enjoyed a constant stream of new features in the core product as well as plugins. This all adds up a technical design and implementation that is not architectonically as sound as it could be.

But does this matter? WordPress has continued provide functionality and constant stream of releases where many other PHP CMSes like Drupal 8, Typo3 and eZ Publish have started major restructuring efforts with various level of success – mostly still left to be seen.

The WordPress REST API is equivalent to the one REST API in Drupal 8, for example. Does it really matter multilingual content and application data is stored “wrong” in a relational database (MySQL) that was originally built for blog posts and a a few info pages? What advantage does a blogger really get from switching to a platform powered with Node.js and MongoDB?

There is little immediate business or editor value in major change undertaking done in Drupal 8, other than being “better”. Front end technologies such as Relay, Flux and React look like a better investment for Automattic than a complete rewrite of an old backend platform to do the same old thing.

The fact seems to be that WordPress is good enough for the majority of content management needs. Barring any catastrophic security issues and as long as they can keep the user experience ahead of other options I can’t see this changing – WordPress is good enough as is.

In the meanwhile the WordPress-based eCommerce platform WooCommerce is kicking ass and taking names in in the online commerce market. Decoupling WooCommerce from WordPress is very hard, so any kind of rewrite of WordPress seems like a monumental undertaking.

Time will show whether the technical debt WordPress has accumulated is similar to that of the United States – it needs not be paid.

Bolt is a viable WordPress alternative built with Silex and Symfony components

Bolt is in spirit very close to WordPress – the administration interface and installation is very easy and straightforward. You’ll be up and running a decent looking site in minutes. Configuration, however, is developer focused as you edit YAML files directly via an online editor. This applies to menus, which pale in comparison to the superb menu editing capabilities in WordPress.

Read more about WordPress Alternative built with Symfony Components, Silex

Automatic Content Migration from Drupal to WordPress?

There are many options for transferring content from one CMS to another. All of this is not rocket science, but you need to have a good partner to help you transfer content from one system to another that is most sensible.

Read this article f you need to migrate content from Drupal to WordPress to eZ Platform

Let Free CloudFlare handle your WordPress site for performance and reliability

The free tier of the CloudFlare CDN platform delivers content with speed and closest to where the users is. This results in lower load on my server and a better experience for a global audience. In addition to delivery, CloudFlare also offers other optimizations (resource minification, etc.).

Using CloudFlare for handling WordPress site traffic is really a no-brainer

Running WordPress on HHVM? Don’t forget to keep it up-to-date!

The average version of HHVM PHP virtual machine only has eight (8) weeks of support. This is not a very long time, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on your version as HHVM is not immune to security issues. Like any software.

Read more about HHVM release cycle and Long Term Support (LTS) releases.

Come learn about Symfony, CMS and web development in hands-on workshops

eZ Publish Summer Camp and PHP Summer Camp are a joint event held in Croatia at the end of August (26. – 29.8.2015). There will be excellent professionals (and me) holding hands-on workshops about all things PHP, eCommerce, Content Management and whatnot.

Read and learn more about the Symfony CMS workshop

Comparing implementations of Symfony in different CMS (Bolt, Drupal 8 and eZ Platform)

You have heard a lot of talk about Symfony in the last PHP events such as Drupalcon events starting from 2012 – the year Drupal announced that they will be embracing Symfony. To many it is not quite clear what this means.

I found a good article that explains this: Learn how Drupal and other content management tools use Symfony

WordPress performance using HTTP/2 and HHVM

WordPress is a stable technology which can not evolve very fast. Thanks to the evolving PHP and web platform we can apply improvements continuously. In 2015 the most talked methods to improve WordPress performance are HTTP/2 and the HHVM runtime.

Read more here: Improve WordPress performance using HTTP/2 and HHVM