Life has been busy with school and all taking up an inordinate amount of my time. However, I have also been playing around with some small coding projects. I have some big ideas but they’re going to need a lot of time to build. I realized that to get these projects off the ground I’ll need to really buckle down and work on my PHP coding skills, so these projects will have to wait till next year.

Apart from that, I’ve been working on some small website projects using PHP, and one thing I’ve been playing with is the concept of flat-file content management systems. These are content management systems that don’t use a database to store information, but instead, the information is stored in text files. If you have worked with any of the database-based content management systems before, such as Joomla, Mambo, or MODX, you know that they are pretty heavy duty, and sometimes resource hungry because of all the utility and functionality that the try to provide.
Flat file CMS’s are ideal for smaller websites that don’t require loads of information to be pulled from many different places at the same time. Since I am just starting to explore these kinds of systems, all I want to do in this post is introduce the concept to you and explain why I think it’s such an attractive option. Here are advantages, I am finding, of using a flat-file CMS:

  1. I don’t need a database – This is useful because one of the hosting accounts I use offers only a limited number of mySQL databases, but unlimited add-on domains. So I can reserve the mySQL databases for my bigger websites and use flat-file CMSs for my smaller websites. With today’s ever-expanding hosting solutions, this might not be an issue for most people, but it’s definitely an advantage to keep in mind.
  2. Installation is easy – Flat-file CMSs are a breeze to install and setup, since all the configuration information is in easily accessible files.
  3. Updates are easy -Unlike most major CMSs where updates involve going back and figuring out what to do with all your plugins, and what files had you edited where, updating flat-file CMSs is a breeze since changes are usually to specific files and are easy to implement. And because you’re not working with databases, updates are an easy DIY task.
  4. Editing and tweaking is easy – Most of the flat-file CMSs that I have had a chance to glance at are written in PHP, so they are easy to figure out and tweak. As I mentioned in a previous post, playing with CMSs is a great way to master PHP.

There are a number of flat-file CMSs out there and I will be talking about them in future posts. The one that I am currently dabbling with is NanoCMS, a nice little flat-file CMS that is proving to be quite useful and easy to play with, so you may want to check it out if you need to whip up a quick website without much ado.

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  1. Any info on that nanocms project ? because the author is really not available and i have a feeling the project is dead.

  2. shalow,
    Thanks for your comment. Yes, it does appear that the creator of nanocms has not been very available, but I am hoping that this is because of the general mayhem of final exams and the holidays. I know v0.3 was recently released, and I hope that this is an indication that the project is still alive. I will check in at the forums frequently to see if Kalyan resurfaces.

  3. NanoCMS is here to stay… šŸ˜€
    so cheers…
    Its just i wanna, keep the core to the simplest..and focus more on extensibility..
    so that it would be powerful inspite of being smalest…
    Mostly i receive ideas on how to add more features, but i rarely receive any ideas to keep it simple, small, but most powerful…

  4. Kalyan,
    I’m glad you’re back, and thank you for the reassurance than nano is here to stay. I understand what you mean about wanting to keep it small, simple, but powerful. I know there are some issues that I’ve run into trying to create a site that has many pages, like wishing I could create a page template that I would just copy and paste the content and my ads into, and also getting more content areas where I want them has been a challenge. So maybe these are things to work on. I have a few more ideas brewing and will be posting them here on my blog and will let you know.

    NanoCMS is definitely powerful and excellent for a flat-file CMS, so thank you for your work in making it happen!

  5. I had the same problem couldn support a database on the website.

    found this link also

  6. I have a flat file cms called razorCMS it came from a fork of nanoCMS called uCMS that i made, but then got completely re-written, I would love for people to give it a go. It is a completely new system utilising a few bits of nanoCMS, some re-written bits of nano, a whole lot of new code and whole new structure.

    I have a very small userbase and am looking for testers for bug squishing etc, I currently have several themes, fckeditor, sef url, meta for each page, ftp mode, multiple info/news areas per page, media manager for pages, list is growing daily.

    take a look

    Kalyan, if you are interested in any of my new code you only have to ask. I have tried contacting you but you don’t reply, no worries though if your not interested.


  7. smiffy, thanks for the comment, razorcms certainly looks interesting. I will definitely give it a try!
    I haven’t checked in on nanocms recently so I don’t know if Kalyan is still working on it.
    One suggestion I have for you is to start a user forum on your website so people can discuss the cms and report bugs. It would be a great feedback tool.

    thanks again!

  8. Allready in place, has been from the start.

    Currently it is a database forum, but when I have the time to port a flat file forum to razorcms, I will be switching as it fits with the flat file structure i’m developing.

    Check out the V0.2 BETA out in the next week or so, it has massive improvements, and adds the ability to add external links to catagories plus a compeltely new content management area.

    Just have a fwe loose ends to tie up and lots of testing.


  9. Hi Mary,

    Just a little nudge to let you know razorCMS v0.2BETA is out, after a few weeks in the wild, I will be releasing the RC version, which will be a stable release of the BETA.

    I have a completely changed content manager, external links can be embedded in the navigation menus, support for non english letters in titles etc, bug fixes and lots of other stuff too.

    I released as BETA due to extensive changes needed to implement new features, but this should be more stable than v0.1RC.

    In addition there is also more themes available and the first in page addon embedding a contact form with the click of a button into page content, with all settigns controlled by the settings manager.

    There is lots happening, so don’t forget to stop by, I would love to know your thoughts and my weaknesses so I may improve on the project.



  10. smiffy
    Thanks for the nudge! šŸ™‚ I will definitely check it out. I have some unused domains sitting around so I’ll install it on one of them and let you know my thoughts. I’m always interested in testing CMSs.
    Let me know if you want feedback on any specific features.


  11. Just have a good general look for me, let me know where i’m missing the ball on anything.

    there’s always room for improvement….


  12. Someone suggested using pmwiki ( as a flat file CMS. It appears to have “recipes” that allow you to add blogs, forums, etc. I was nervous about installing it b/c there didn’t seem to be much action in the user forums.

    • Ian
      Haven’t seen pmwiki before, thanks for mentioning it. Yes there doesn’t seem to be much action in the forums. I think in this day and age when all hosts pretty much give you a decent number of databases, most people don’t have a need for flat file CMSs, but they do have their uses.

      I’ll give this one a look.


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