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Typo3 – my recommendation

June 4, 2010 - 3:46 pm

Typo3 Backend

Typo3 Backend

A few weeks ago I finished my first website based on the Typo3 CMS. The page of CJB (Christian Youth-alliance in Bavaria), which I took over webmaster position several years ago needed a complete redesign and in conjunction with this I decided to apply a content management system.

I’ve taken some time zu evaluate some others like Joomla!, CMS Made Simple and Redaxo but eventually got stuck with Typo3. I must admit it’s not that fast to learn but once you got the overall concept (and this is enough) you have a very powerfull system.

The software design of Typo3 is one of the clearest I’ve ever seen. Everything seems monolithic to me and it’s extremely easy to make it doing what you want.

Typo Script

The core of Typo3 is the TypoScript language – one of the features I hesitated giving Typo3 a try at first. Actually TypoScript is not a procedural language but a description language like HTML – better yet: a template language. It’s object oriented and beside defining where it has to place the content, you can do really fancy things with it. Nevertheless you create your basic Layout using HTML and CSS as you are used to. Define some placeholders und use TypoScript to advice the system how content from the database should be wrapped with HTML and inserted into those spaces.

The major thing I dislike in other CMSs is their missing flexibility. Page layout is somewhat fixed and if you are nitpicking with the design – like me – you either have to dig very deep into the details of the plug-ins or are lost in hacking the PHP code. Since all Typo3 Plug-Ins use TypoScript to generate content, you can customize nearly everything with only a little knowledge about the TypoScript object tree of the particular Plug-In.

Creating own Plug-Ins seems to be easy as well. I haven’t done this yet, but extended an existing one by a new functionality.

Things to take care of

First if all, I would not recommend this CMS to anyone without high demands. You should really be ready to learn Typo3 and TypoScript and be not under time-pressure – it’s not a system for a quick-and-dirty “this is my little hamster”-website. You might very easily find yourself copying code from google to make it working but do not really understand what actually happens. If you are experienced in programming, you will not have too much problems with learning Typo.

Another problem is, that’s not too easy for the end-user as well. He has to understand what it means to have “text-only”, “text-and-image”, “image-only” etc. sections on one page. Also the Rich-Text Editor is far behind the one used in e.g. WordPress. There are also very many different properties per page and page section, which definitely confuse the user. It’s up to you as the webmaster to use the ACLs (which are really powerfull) to hide unnecessary fields from the user.

Typo3 is one of the largest CMSs I guess. It takes up more than 40MB in the basic install without plug-ins – and this is only the files without database. Anyway it’s relatively fast because it has a very cood caching mechanism.

As you can read from the headline, I got a fan of it and suggest giving it a try.

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