by Dan Perrera
It’s been a busy half year, not only for me and my team at The Outfit, but in the content management world as well. Recently I put Statamic through its paces and, while it’s definitely worth a look, now it’s Craft’s turn with it’s recently released 1.0 version.
I like Craft a lot. The Pixel & Tonic team has taken the opportunity of a clean slate to make an unburdened and modern content management system. It comes with features out of the box that make it powerful enough for developers to love, but with a simple yet feature-packed control panel to make clients swoon. They probably won’t swoon, but they should. Here are my favorite bits:
The base of Craft is free, which is plenty for you to get a sense of what the software can do. Need more features? Pay only for what you need. This freemium model was a wise move to boost developer adoption – it worked on me. Upgrades for multiple content sections, users and more are individual “packages” which can be activated from the Craft control panel.
I don’t understand why this feature is so hard to come by. When I heard that Craft had it, my heart fluttered. For me, giving a client (or myself) the ability to keep their CMS up-to-date is key. Up-to-date sites are more secure for the client and make it easier for developers to pick up old projects with confidence.
There hasn’t been a project I’ve worked on where this question doesn’t pop up: “How do I preview my page before it goes live?” And it always breaks my heart to say: “Well it’s possible, but it’s going to take more time and money.”
This is one of those features that is typically underrated by developers and adored and/or expected by clients who are not as confident about web publishing. Craft’s implementation of Live Preview is incredibly elegant and beautifully executed.
It’s customizable, responsive and beautifully designed. There’s very little to learn and it’s eminently approachable. I know that this is sounding a little gushy at this point but, hey, credit where credit is due.
Craft comes with a bundle of field types to help you make a great CMS experience for your client. Each field type is like a tool in your toolbox and they’re fairly intuitive to use.
Craft uses Twig to handle templating which is by far the biggest learning curve I experienced while getting to know the CMS. I’ve only scratched the surface of Twig but the power is obvious. The slide out panel on this blog for example, which requires a custom plugin in Statamic or ExpressionEngine, is achievable in Twig with no extra plugins.
The only drawback that I can see at the moment is the lack of a robust library of plugins. Straight up Craft is off to a decent start but it’s hardly comprehensive… for now.
While the docs are well organized and definitely helpful, I found Mijingo’s tutorial videos very helpful to get started. We’re spoiled rotten with good CMS choices these days but Craft is definitely worth a shot.