WordPress as a CMS


We’ve been torturing WordPress (and other blogging software) into being a lite CMS. From a few pages that we manage for clients to hundreds of pages managed by the clients themselves, we thought there must be a better way.

Sure, we’ve used ExpressionEngine, Drupal and other “real” CMSs – even BadCat.com is running off of a small newcomer called Frog (plus some custom enhancements) – but how could we wrangle WordPress into doing the task? Most of it is quite easy since WordPress manages Posts (entries) as well as traditional Pages.

The real issue comes with custom datatypes and simplifying ways to enter repetitive information into custom areas on a particular page or post. WordPress’s Custom Fields handles much of the work, but the core install still doesn’t have a decent “front-end” to make the data entry and set up easy. Enter WordPress CMS plugins – an easier way to manage the Custom Fields through manipulating the KEYS and VALUES with forms based editors.

Here’s an example: Add Some Custom Fields to the More Fields Setup…

More Fields Setup

This then results in a Custom Entry Screen added to or replacing the default WordPress Posts or Pages screens…

More Fields Entry
There are currently (to my research) 4 decent CMS approaches to making WordPress into a more full featured CMS by way of WordPress Custom Fields. Many of these appear to have come from inspiration of Rhymed Codes Custom Write Panel.

Here’s a list of the current contenders:

Flutter (FreshPage/Post): http://flutter.freshout.us/
download: http://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/fresh-page.zip

Where to start… this one “should” have it all. They probably bit off more than they could chew but if they get it right, this could be the one.

Pods: http://pods.uproot.us
download: http://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/pods.zip

Very promising, but still a moving target. Custom database tables add some features, but for now the tables seem to keep getting renamed making upgrades a bit of a pain.

Custom Fields Template: http://wordpressgogo.com/development/custom-field-template.html
download: http://wordpressgogo.com/download/5

Tied for best of the bunch at this point since it’s really at it’s core a much prettier way to simply manage the Custom Fields.

More Fields: http://labs.dagensskiva.com/plugins/more-fields/
download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/more-fields/

Also tied for best of the bunch in my opinion. Generally stable and often updated, adding new features. Keep an eye on Henrik and his team.

UPDATE – 2010-02-14: – Still more contenders for the WordPress CMS arena

Page.ly MultiEdithttp://blog.page.ly/multiedit-plugin/

Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pagely-multiedit/
Page.ly’s MultiEdit is pretty slick. It adds tabs to the top of the TinyMCE editor based on the MultiEdit regions you’ve defined in the page template. The only downside, other than having to edit the page templated (a given, I suppose) is that you’re relying on the TinyMCE Visual Editor – otherwise seems great. Would like to see them add this functionality to Post templates as well as Page templates.

UPDATE – 2009-12-09: Yet another contender for WordPress CMS functionality

Trendwerk’s Multiple Content Blockshttp://plugins.trendwerk.nl/documentation/multiple-content-blocks/
Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/multiple-content-blocks/
Trendwerk’s Multiple Content Blocks has proven very useful. Works with Child Themes, works with Pages or Posts, works with the HTML editor or the Visual Editor.

UPDATE – 2009-03-13: A contender for WordPress Custom Fields Style CMS Domination

Supple Formshttp://www.whypad.com/posts/supple-forms-a-WordPress-cms-plugin/
Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/supple-forms/
Looks very promising. Special Note: Supple Forms has an interesting “trick” in that it allows you to choose to use WordPress’ Custom Fields – or – create your own user specified Database name. Good job! Reading through the comments shows that there’s more to come with Supple Forms – I especially like the idea of further integration with Urban Giraffe’s Sniplets. Go Byron!

More contenders and useful WordPress-CMS oriented plugins:

Also: Special Thanks to Lorelle for other Tips about WordPress.