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ElefantCMS and WordPress

edited May 2013 in Future

The main reason that WP is the most popular blogging platform today is because it is dead-simple to use. While an importer for WP has been marked as "Done" for version 2, what steps are the devs taking to ensure that the UX of eCMS is at the same level or better as that of WP. keep in mind that I am looking at this from the perspective of a non-techy.


  • edited May 2013

    I'm new to Elefant cms/framework, but from my perspective, I see wordpress more like a PRODUCT and Elefant more like a TOOL to make your own product that fits your real needs. But that's my perspective and I'm new to elefant

  • Elefant and Wordpress are visually very different, but arguably just as easy to use. Elefant isn't a blogging platform with a CMS tacked on though, instead we try to provide the best UX for all user types, including developers, designers, and systems administrators (automating backups and upgrades, for example).

    If you compare frameworks, while WP is simple enough it is also messy and bloated in a way that can't be cleaned up (not without breaking thousands of apps). So for developers, it provides a sub-standard experience. If you compare templates/themes, you'll see Elefant is much cleaner and simpler to built themes for as a designer. The only advantage WP has here is familiarity for those designers that already know it, but to a new designer Elefant ought to be easier in that regard as well.

    However, it wasn't really until Elefant 2 that we've focused on the end user as much. It started as more of a framework and became a full-fledged CMS afterwards, so much of the information and marketing on the website needs to be rewritten (I'm working on it) to showcase the CMS and demonstrate how it works for end users. That's probably the biggest hurdle for new users at the moment, and something that will improve in time for the Elefant 2 launch.

    And if there are areas of the UX that you think can be made better or are causing confusion, I'd love to know what they are so we can improve that :)

  • My suggestion wasn't from the perspective of coders, but that of the end-user. Joe and Jane user of WP wouldn't know what to do with a CSS or PHP file, but they can install it and start blogging in a few minutes.

    But I understand that Elefant is still in the early stages. My suggestion is just a reminder, so we can start thinking about how to make Elefant attractive to more people.

  • edited May 2013

    The last bit of my comment was meant to be about end users, which are now a big priority for Elefant in my thinking :) The biggest issue is information (documentation, marketing message, etc) geared towards non-techies, which right now is almost nonexistent but will change soon.

    Another aspect of end user experience is the limited availability of themes. I'm no proper designer, so the themes I've made so far are hardly going to woo someone over from WP's millions of themes, but that's another area I'd love to see improve. Hopefully the new homepage and Elefant 2 launch will attract a few designers to the community and our theme options can expand so new users can simply install a custom theme, maybe an app or two (all from the GUI), then spend their time producing content and not worrying about markup or code.

  • edited May 2013

    Hello. Talking about Themes, I've created new theme based in bootstrap. I've included some new features to the bootstraper theme..I've added a responsive menu to it and some others default javascripts (googlecodepretiffy, modal, tabs, alert, etc)..and the possibility to add custom styles in custom-styles.css, leaving the core of bootstrap untouched/pure so designers can easily upgrade to new versions of bootstrapp.

    My question is how Can I share it to the community? Thank you

  • Ah yes, it looks like the docs on sharing themes are woefully out of date...

    If you think the changes you've made should be included in the existing bootstrap theme, then the best way would probably be to fork its project on Github, make your changes to your fork and commit them, then create a pull request which is Git terminology for "take my changes and merge them into the main codebase" :)

    If you think it's best as a new theme, then creating a Github project for it would be your best bet, then share that here and I can add it to the themes page (eventually, I want to build a self-publish option for apps and themes). You can base it on the files in an existing theme's repository for examples of the elefant.json and composer.json config files.

    If you're new to Git, then Github's apps for Mac and Windows may help ease the learning curve :)

  • I think that in my country is very growing demand for websites simple and light but with some special management (often growing).

    For my modest experience Elefant is the best I've tried but I am convinced that, would receive a strong boost if it had a builder like this:

    Could it be that there is already and I have not yet discovered.

  • We don't have anything quite like that yet, although we do have some tools that can help you generate the CRUD interface for an app from the command line, like this:

    ./elefant crud-app Article id title byline summary body

    This creates an app in apps/articles that you can customize as needed. You can edit the generated database schema then import it via:

    ./elefant import-db apps/articles/conf/install_sqlite.sql

    With those two commands, you'll get a working CRUD app under Tools > Articles, although you'll have to customize it from there by editing the generated files.

  • I think there is a growing demand for simple but beautiful websites in general. I also think the developer/designer roll has shifted to more of a consultant than so much a tried and true developer of the past. People can build their own sites in weebly or WordPress now for nothing. Elefant is giving designers/developers the ability to build a fresh new system from the ground up that doesn't have all the clutter of WordPress. i don't completely agree with WP being so "user" friendly for clients. I still have many clients that won't update their sites because they don't understand WP. Back in the days of pre 2.5 WP was very user friendly but since 2.9 and up it is just getting more and more cluttered.

  • Simple but beautiful websites is what we all want, but blogging is what we all do. We no longer write letters to our family and friends, but send emails, chat on social networks and blog. And no platform makes it simpler to blog than WP.

    To say that you have "clients that won't update their sites because they don't understand WP" is bothering on FUD. I don't even have to think about updating any aspect of WP, whether it be WP itself, a plugin or theme. It's all point-and-click.

    From purely an end-user, non-geek perspective, managing WP couldn't be simpler. It's that kind of point-and-click user-friendliness that I'm hoping we achieve here.

    Now, from the developer/designer perspective, WP is another story. So if you can give that group a sane and sensible framework that's resource-friendly, while making it very user-friendly to non-geeks, I think you've got a winner.

    I'm thinking about migrating over, but I'm not that good at coding. I can mess with a few lines here and there, but writing my own code from scratch is not a skill I have.

    If there are ready-made apps to replace the WP plugins I'm using now, the HTML/CSS stuff I can take care of.

    So let's keep things straight and honest. The core of ElefantCMS is better than that of WP, but for the vast majority of WP users, ElefantCMS is still a work in progress.

  • I demo WP from time to time, I really like the design of the admin back-end. At present, I think Elefant--as a minimalist DIY framework/CMS--has a slightly different target audience than WordPress.

    IMO the admin is currently Elefant's weakest spot; rather than the top admin menu bar I'd much prefer a persistent full-page interface. Some sort of visual distinction between core/installed apps would be helpful. A drag & drop page tree that always lists all site contents--whether hidden/public and including any app-generated pages (wiki, Lemur, etc.) would be fabulous...see ProcessWire for an excellent example of a comprehensive, yet simple, admin.

  • @Winstontaneous, completely agree with you, but I don't think the devs here are specifically targeting a specific group. At least I hope that's not their goal.

    Imagine if Jobs at targeted geeky types with the iDevices.

    So yes, a persistent full-page admin interface will make a big difference.

  • Great conversation here guys :)

    I'm not sure I agree that a full-page admin interface as the main admin interface is the way to go, or is necessarily any easier to use. In my experience training non-techies in the past, the more similar to their actual website things can be, the easier the time they have with it.

    Everyone knows how to browse a website, especially their own website, so that's usually the most logical way to have them find a page. From there (in Elefant's case), we place an edit button next to whatever content is editable. For other pages, there's also the Tools > All Pages screen.

    A persistent tree view also has the problem of not mapping one-to-one with your actual site, since some pages may be disabled or not included in the navigation structure, which is why we went with the two column approach in Tools > Navigation.

    I do think the Elefant toolbar is too simplistic long-term, but I think we can come up with improvements to make it more of a configurable mini-dashboard and keep the website view underneath instead of moving to a full-page admin interface. There was some discussion around that a while back on here, but I don't seem to be able to find it at the moment...

    Anyway, I'm glad we're throwing ideas around about this. It's important to consider, and Elefant 2 will be out soon, then our focus will then be switching to what Elefant 3 will look like :)

  • edited May 2013

    I really like the current admin interface of Elefant and will never give up the edit button next to the contents to be modified. They are very appreciated by my users. The only thing I miss a little, is a tool to create forms and grid directly from the admin menu. An application like form-builder but oriented to DB. I still know little about Elefant and every discovery is a pleasant surprise. I take this opportunity to thank all the contributors.

  • edited May 2013

    From my experience with customers, the edit Buttons next to the editable item are much more intuitive then a fullscreen admin Panel a la WordPress. Especially, if you have more than just one big body textfield.

    I personally like the clean and minimalistic style of the admin Interface, but it's sometimes lacking the little elegance, that makes the difference between 'less is more' (in a Mies van der Rohe sense) and 'plain simple'. (I hope nobody is taking offence, because it's not ment in an offensive way). That's why I think it's best to stay with this paradigm of minimalism and finetune the edges away. (Like e.g. Return to the page you came from when you hit the 'Website' link in the admin bar and not the Homepage, or have a preview button, that hides all the edit Buttons, so you can see what the page looks like without logging out)

    I'm really a bit sad that I don't have the time to be involved as much as i used to (Kids change everything ;-) But i'm happy to see that the community flourishes, the way it does.

    And by the way: I do also believe that a set of stylish kickass themes would attract a lot of poeple. Elefant already has a lot to offer, and many poeple would stick to it, once they see how flexible it is and how easy to use.

  • Those are great suggestions betaman!

    The preview that exists now is only for web pages, but it would be good to add support for blog posts and other content types, and maybe a toggle that turns the edit buttons off and on for the current page.

    I'll have to get creative about how to track the current page everywhere except in the admin layout, and use that to dynamically set the website link so it returns to the right page. Hmm... :)

  • What about using a cookie to store the last 'non-admin' page?

  • Had to modify the admin layout slightly, but a cookie and a couple lines of code seems to do the trick:

  • edited May 2013

    That's cool :-) Its a small feature that nobody will ever precieve, because it feels so natural :-)

    I also did some small stuff on the adminbar :-) I'll make a pull request..

    Cheers betaman

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