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MKRD.info

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sNews review
« on: August 05, 2010, 07:49:57 pm »

Hello to all

In evaluating CMSes, I have the following requirements: CMS selection criteria

Small CMSes may be attractive in the beginning, but users start bumping into limitations down the road.

List of other rejected CMSes. This list also contains specific notes on this CMS and what I noted the problems to be.


I would love to hear feedback on the selection criteria.


Note: I'm a single person, do don't attack me saying this is BS. I'm doing what I can. If I make money from ads on reviews, then I would have put more resources in it.
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Keyrocks

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2010, 10:06:17 pm »


1.  Hello to all

In evaluating CMSes, I have the following requirements: CMS selection criteria

2.  Small CMSes may be attractive in the beginning, but users start bumping into limitations down the road.

3.  List of other rejected CMSes. This list also contains specific notes on this CMS and what I noted the problems to be.

4.  I would love to hear feedback on the selection criteria.

5.  Note: I'm a single person, do don't attack me saying this is BS. I'm doing what I can. If I make money from ads on reviews, then I would have put more resources in it.

1.  Hello MKRD... and welcome.

2.  True.

3.  I can't seem to find any specific notes on the sNews CMS on your rejected CMSs List Page.
    Please provide a link to your specific comments.

4.  Your selection criteria are good.

5.  No attack from me.
    A suggestion though: If your site is a one-person endeavour, it would be useful to put a face on it... your real name and a mug-shot...
    on your About Page perhaps.     I'd also monetize the site to generate some ad revenue too.

General Comment:
If you feel it is necessary to list sNews in your "Rejected" list, I invite you to provide your full review comments here so those of us who choose to use sNews can chip away at improving it so that others might benefit from improvements. We do welcome constructive comments and suggestions.

Please Note:
sNews is not a ready-made CMS solution out-of-the-box, at least I've never seen it as that.
Although it does install flawlessly for those who follow the simple instructions.
It is a developers' learning tool, a good one to cut one's teeth on while learning to work with PHP, MySQL, etc.

Again, we look forward to your constructive comments and suggestions.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 06:58:44 pm by Keyrocks »
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MKRD.info

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 01:59:47 am »

Notifications must not be on by default... just saw your response.

I'll reevaluate sNews and report back.
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Fred K

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 02:45:03 am »

If I might suggest something for your re-evaluation it would be to first read through the introduction pages, so you have a better picture of what sNews is and what you can reasonably expect from it out of the box.

As for your criteria, I'd say that most of them are sound and follow the golden rule of common sense. A couple may be a little on "hard nosed" side, but that's your call. I would like to echo Keyrocks' statement that sNews is a developer's tool and most likely not something Joe Average will be able to run to his or her liking (with all due respect to the Averages, of course), it takes at least some basic HTML, CSS and preferably PHP skill to make it behave like a smooth operator. That said, it's not necessary to call in a team of specialists either just to get the system running (see Pligg or MODx for references). I actually wrote a short piece on this topic only yesterday.

I am a bit curious about the hard-nose attitude towards the CMS' that fail to meet your criteria though. You say that any CMS that don't live up to them should be avoided (and you make that sound like they're carriers of some unnamed but horrific mutagen or something ;)). As I said, that's of course your call, but I can't help but wonder about the reason for that. Example: Before I found sNews I tested a number of small CMS, just like you. Some of them I wouldn't recommend anyone to try, but others are actually not that bad - it's just that they didn't live up to my standards. CMSMadeSimple for instance. What I mean is that even if we have high expectations of the tools we use, there may be good reason for others, with different standards than ours, to use and possibly even like the systems we reject. I've rejected WordPress, Typo3, Joomla, GetSimple, CushyCMS and MODx to name but a few -and I reject them over and over- but other people seem to enjoy them. A couple of them even I liked at first, but as I used them more thoroughly I came to realize that they didn't fit my bill (GetSimple is the perfect example - a well thought out project that I found very interesting and used heartily for two weeks ... yet haven't touched after that.)

If you see what I mean.
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Sven

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 10:18:47 am »

(...) sNews is a developer's tool and most likely not something Joe Average will be able to run to his or her liking (with all due respect to the Averages, of course),(...)
nor Bill Dumber I can confirm. ;D

Keyrocks

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2010, 04:30:17 pm »

(...) sNews is a developer's tool and most likely not something Joe Average will be able to run to his or her liking (with all due respect to the Averages, of course),(...)
nor Bill Dumber I can confirm. ;D

@ Sven...  ;D ... "You've come a long way Baby..." since you first became a sNoozer (joined the forums) and you're still here today. Either you are having a positive experience or you're really lonely and have no other humans (exept your wife) to communicate with.  8)

1.  Notifications must not be on by default... just saw your response.

2.  I'll reevaluate sNews and report back.

@ MKRD (Hmmm... still doesn't have a name...)

1.  No. You need to activate it using the Additional Options panel at the bottom of a post text-area before submitting a post.  ;)

2.  sNews isn't like most other run-of-the-mill CMS packages, on purpose.
    The author's original objective was (and still is) to keep sNews as small and as simple as possible while retaining as much functionality as possible.
    Those of us who continue working with sNews have stuck with that objective.

Obviously, we each have different expectations of what a CMS should provide, and expectations will differ quite a bit depending on what we're looking for in a CMS.

In your case, I will assume you are basing your judgements on how many bells and whistles a CMS provides... how easy it is to use from and administrative perspective (short learning curve vs a long one) and how easy it is to add and enable modules... and the variety of modules available. In which case size (the number of files and overall bulk in MBs) and the complexity of file structure are not important.

In contrast, I tend to refer to all the 'biggies' - including CMSMadeSimple - as suffering from bloat disease... because they have a lot of files in numerous directories and folders, take up a lot of space on the hard-drive, and it takes a lot of time to learn how all the code in all those files interacts. Over the past 6 years I've tested all the biggies (like Fred K. above has) and still keep the latest versions of Drupal and WP on my machine for specific uses. I spend a considerable amount of time working with and customizing PHP-Nuke (7.x versions) until I new it inside out.

Four years ago, I set out on a quest for simplicity. I came across sNews 1.4 and joined the sNews family. I really liked it for the following reasons:
   - the ZIP package weighed in at only 22KB, (89KB un-zipped),
   - it contained only four files
   - it provided complete (100% separation between styling (template & CSS) and core functions.

I've stuck with sNews as my main development project ever since for these main reasons:
   1. Improvements are developed by the community itself,
   2. The community isn't striving to compete with any other open source CMS project for download volume or page hits.
   3. Our community is small but those of us who have been here for a while have developed beneficial relationships that we value.

Today, sNews 1.7 still remains a very small package. The ZIP comes in at only 55KB (including the SQL import file and readme.htm file) and, once un-zipped, it only takes up 202KB on the server. Even with a more complex (but efficient) template, a fully operational site will still take up less than 1MB on the server.

No doubt, sNews does not come with a lot of bells and whistles, and it does not come with an automatic installation script. It isn't meant to. It is plain old 'vanilla' out of the box.

We leave the Bells & Whistles up to our fellow sNoozers. Someone comes along and says... "Can we do this or that?" and others will voluntarily step up to the plate and help out... build some code... share it on the boards... others test it and provide feedback... and it evolves from there.

sNews is not your average CMS... and I'll go as far as stating that sNoozers are not your average CMS users either.
But we like working with it none-the-less.  ;)
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Patric Ahlqvist

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2010, 07:53:36 am »

Dougie: sNews is mentioned under "The following CMSes have an active forum and have responded to my posts linking to this page. They will be reevaluated against the criteria again:" at the bottom of the page.

And as a comment to MKRD, so far I haven't heard of anything within the realm of reality that have not been possible with snews. Not from scratch and in default package perhaps, but the coding guy's at this forum is darn helpful and have made an effort to deliver, I dare to say all the things I ever needed...

So if the function one is looking for cannot be developed by oneself, chances are that there is a fellow snoozian that will aid in such endevour.

I have tested many CMS's and allways return to sNews. The more "famous" one's are to bloated for me, to complexed. Just as an example, styling. If you wanna style one of the more "famous" one's you need to go over many many files, whilst in sNews you edit/make a new CSS. Then there is the speed, The more "famous" one's all claim to be fast and speedy, well that is not my experience although I tend to compare with sNews, hehe... sNews also claims to be fast (and small) but the difference is that sNews keeps that promise.

Differences that may be on the positive side for those "famous" one's are that there is often more addon's in module  form, which makes it easier for the enduser to attatch them to one's CMS. More blingtbling in all actually, but I feel no need to have the system more complex then it needs to be in order to obtain more eyecandy.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 08:23:18 am by Patric Ahlqvist »
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mosh

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2010, 10:05:49 am »

sNews CMS is addictive  8)
for me this is the best tool for building websites,
it's easy to customise and very simple for php noobs.

@fred
very good article http://frdk.com/snews/what-snews/
very nice website.


awesome day 2 all
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 10:12:04 am by mosh »
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nukpana

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2010, 01:54:59 pm »

How about another point of view....

sNews, (and it's forks) is a system to tinker with.

Per the front page:
Quote
sNews is extremely lightweight, simple and customizable.

Lightweight, compared to what?  Are you comparing apples to apples?
   Filesize? Other systems are smaller. Blanket statement, no comparison of features.
   Code? Other systems are more lighter in functionality, expandability.

Simple? See below.

Customizable?
Quote
sNews consists of...   ...one independent template file and its accompanying CSS stylesheet file,
The system is customized by it's CSS only. The layout, unless you are tinkering with the core system, is locked in.  Most of the "mods" try to get around this limitation.
  
It later goes on to state:
Quote
sNews is a Developer's Tool.
Which you will hear quite frequently from the users.

It is not developer friendly.
 - sNews states it is a developers tool, but doesn't maintain a structure to allow easier editing.
 - Most, if not all code is in need of improvement for sustainability and/or speed (8 pages worth for example)

-----------------------------------

Administering/Using the system: (rushing this part....)
This is simple, for a single user system.  Creating the basics textual content is simple for end users.

Roadblocks would be the following (from real end users and my past usage):

 - Lack of updated help section or tooltips within the system.
 - Content area - needs non-code view (Base system textarea)
 - Article View - Why can't archives be sorted like the article view (Year/Month) ** Note, yes I know there is a mod for this**
 - Pages: The default pages are not editable/changable (position)
 - Extras: Cannot add to default pages (major), dropdown selection confusing (category to pages) (minor)
 - Editing content the blocks are closed, bad for users with Javascript not enabled (like on mobile devices for instance)
 - Uploading/file system adding to content confusing
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 02:15:53 pm by nukpana »
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Patric Ahlqvist

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2010, 02:52:24 pm »

Nuk - Way to "sell" sNews, eh ;)
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Patric Ahlqvist

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2010, 03:00:45 pm »

"also known as the sNews Forum’s lewd boy... " ;)
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Fred K

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2010, 03:03:43 pm »

Jason, those are all good points and they're important to keep in mind ... however they aren't really relevant to MKRD's review, or even criteria for that review (except one or two), which I think is why they haven't been raised here before. Let me just address a couple of your points for the sake of argument (but keep in mind that I actually agree with you on the overall scale). :P

Lightweight
Quote from: nukpana
Lightweight, compared to what?
Compared to almost all other CMS' *I* have tested, including a bunch of the other "light" systems. Lightweight in the sense that it has few files, a small download package and a small database. Putting sNews on a server doesn't add a lot of "weight" (kilo- or megabytes). Ergo, lightweight.

Customizable
Quote from: nukpana
The system is customized by it's CSS only. The layout, unless you are tinkering with the core system, is locked in.
That's not entirely true. Yes, many functions have too much HTML structure within them, which makes them "locked in", but compare for example with a Wordpress or MODx template -- which is usually built with a number of separate files -- and you'll see that the sNews way is in fact easier to use for the general population of developers. Some functions could definitely have their HTML paired down to give developers more layout freedom. Some functions could or should be broken out of their parent functions, again to make developing easier and more flexible. However, the fundamentals of the sNews construction, using an index.php file with the basic function calls in it and an external CSS file to control the styling, is more flexible than the way CMS' traditionally has worked (and many of the poplar CMS' still follow the traditional route).

The statement "sNews is a developer's tool" doesn't mean "it's a wonderful tool for this particular group of developers", it simply means that in order to get the most out of the system you need certain basic knowledges, which tend to be part of "developers" skillset, in other words it's an attempt to say "this is not for someone who wants to just plug a CMS into their website and let it do its magic". It's not a promise, it's a warning label - even though that may not be the best term for it. Also, "developer" has many levels in itself so I don't really see a problem with the statement. It would be troublesome if it said "sNews is perfect for the skilled PHP/MySQL/Javascript/DOM developer", because that's much more specific and would (probably) be a bit misleading.

But anyway, that's just my view and I tend to talk too much as always. And, as noted, I agree with you for the most part. ;)

@Mosh: Thanks, appreciate it. :)
@Patric: 8) :o :D
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Keyrocks

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2010, 05:38:17 pm »

Well, if nothing else, MKRD's post has revived past conversations and passion in a few of our MVM (more vocal members). We haven't looked in the mirror for a while so this is good.  8)

Dougie: sNews is mentioned under "The following CMSes have an active forum and have responded to my posts linking to this page. They will be reevaluated against the criteria again:" at the bottom of the page.

Thanks Patric. I see he has re-organized his "Rejects" page. I also notice that 7 others have responded to his criteria as well. So we should give MKRD credit for being honest and continuing to revise his "Rejects" page.

I've noticed that MKRD tries to distinguish BLOGS as not really being a CMS. However, in the technical sense of the word, a CMS is "any system used to manage content" and, for me, using a database for data storage and retrieval. A blog... and even a medical records data entry and retrieval system... can be described as Content Management Systems. In other words, the term does not just apply to systems that publish several forms of content on a website.

Nuk - "also known as the sNews Forum’s lewd boy... " Way to "sell" sNews, eh ;)

In addition to being (as Patric notes) "The sNews Forum Lewd Boy" (a good one Patric)... also formerly known as centered, EQ, Equilni and (real name) Jason... communication skills are just one of his many "works-in-progress" and he remains a major contributor towards improvements.  ;D

Jason, those are all good points and they're important to keep in mind ... however they aren't really relevant to MKRD's review, or even criteria for that review (except one or two), which I think is why they haven't been raised here before.

Ditto.

Let me just address a couple of your points for the sake of argument (but keep in mind that I actually agree with you on the overall scale). :P

Lightweight
Quote from: nukpana
Lightweight, compared to what?
Compared to almost all other CMS' *I* have tested, including a bunch of the other "light" systems. Lightweight in the sense that it has few files, a small download package and a small database. Putting sNews on a server doesn't add a lot of "weight" (kilo- or megabytes). Ergo, lightweight.

Ditto. Take CMSMadeSimple as an example... it's a nice CMS... nothing really 'wrong' with it but... it is far from being light-weight... severly bloated actually... at a whopping 19MB (2,640 files in 280 folders and directories) once it's un-bundled. From a simple CMS developer's point of view... waaayyy too complex and not worth the time getting into. It also requires usage of empty index.html files in every directory and sub-directory - even in the template css folders - to keep nosey viewers from viewing directory file-lists in the same way the old, antiquated php-Nuke system did, which really isn't necessary in an efficiently developed CMS package.


Customizable
Quote from: nukpana
The system is customized by it's CSS only. The layout, unless you are tinkering with the core system, is locked in.
That's not entirely true. Yes, many functions have too much HTML structure within them, which makes them "locked in", but compare for example with a Wordpress or MODx template -- which is usually built with a number of separate files -- and you'll see that the sNews way is in fact easier to use for the general population of developers. Some functions could definitely have their HTML paired down to give developers more layout freedom. Some functions could or should be broken out of their parent functions, again to make developing easier and more flexible. However, the fundamentals of the sNews construction, using an index.php file with the basic function calls in it and an external CSS file to control the styling, is more flexible than the way CMS' traditionally has worked (and many of the poplar CMS' still follow the traditional route).

Ditto. We've discussed the need (Jason included) to improve standardization of css classes throughout the core function file. This is more of a housekeeping matter on the internal programming side... not related to out-of-the box consumer usability. I'd venture to say that it hasn't been done yet because those of us who use sNews on a regular basis haven't found it to be a cause of frustration. None-the-less, it is one area of improvement that can be focused on at any time once a few members team up to take it on between their other more important projects.

The statement "sNews is a developer's tool" doesn't mean "it's a wonderful tool for this particular group of developers", it simply means that in order to get the most out of the system you need certain basic knowledge, which tends to be part of a "developers" skillset, in other words it's an attempt to say "this is not for someone who wants to just plug a CMS into their website and let it do its magic". It's not a promise, it's a warning label - even though that may not be the best term for it. Also, "developer" has many levels in itself so I don't really see a problem with the statement. It would be troublesome if it said "sNews is perfect for the skilled PHP/MySQL/Javascript/DOM developer", because that's much more specific and would (probably) be a bit misleading.

You've said it very well Fred.
All in all, from a developer's point of view, I've not yet found another CMS that offers the same flexibility in as small and simple a package as sNews is.

[But anyway, that's just my view and I tend to talk too much as always. And, as noted, I agree with you for the most part. ;)

I'd say you tend to express yourself very well in all of your endeavours Fred, and that I do appreciate.  :)

sNews CMS is addictive  8) for me this is the best tool for building websites, it's easy to customise and very simple for php noobs.

Thanks from me too Mosh! :)
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 06:25:40 pm by Keyrocks »
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Fred K

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2010, 06:08:24 pm »

Just so it's clear, the forum "lewd boy" = Pat and the label comes from here. And it's said with all the man-love in the world, obviously. :P
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Keyrocks

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Re: sNews review
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2010, 06:34:07 pm »

Just so it's clear, the forum "lewd boy" = Pat and the label comes from here. And it's said with all the man-love in the world, obviously. :P

OMG... so I see!  :o
Hey, thanks for the link to my old sNews.ca site... embarassing really as I haven't updated anything there for so long I've forgotten the admin username and password. I've had three previous separate upgrade projects for that domain that never made it online. The latest - a heavily modified, full-blown sNews 1.7 project in 2 versions - single and multiple-user - called MysNews17 with a new, more intuitive admin template. Perhaps if I'd keep off these Forums for a while... I just might get it done.  :P
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