Why you’ll ♥ Craft CMS
- Client friendly administration interface
- Built-in e-commerce capabilities
- Easily integrates with unique, editorial designs
- Frequency of feature and security updates
- A large development community
What is Craft CMS?
Craft CMS is the brainchild of Pixel & Tonic, a software development company based out of Bend, Oregon founded by Brandon Kelly. Originally the creators of premium ExpressionEngine add-ons such as Matrix, Playa and Wygwam, Pixel & Tonic set out to build a new CMS in the Fall of 2010 (originally called “Blocks”).
Craft is a content-first CMS that aims to make life enjoyable for developers and content managers alike.
Craft’s out of the box custom fieldtypes, content structures, elegant templating for developers and easy to use control panel make it one of the most powerful and flexible content management systems on the market.
In 2015, Craft won the Best CMS for Developers award by CMS Critics. In early 2016, Leslie Camacho, former CEO of EllisLab, the creators of ExpressionEngine, joined Pixel & Tonic as the Chief Customer Officer. Today, Craft powers websites of all shapes and sizes, including forward thinking household names like Netflix, Salesforce, American Press and Oakley.
As of the time of this writing, Craft has added 960 new features, 1,358 improvements and 1,504 bug fixes since their initial public beta launched on November 13th, 2012. The team at Pixel & Tonic currently average 1.2 Craft CMS updates per week.
View the Craft changlelog for up-to-date release statistics.
Why we ♥ Craft CMS
Clients love it
Clients love Craft. Our clients tell us how simple, easy and cool that Craft is just about every time we launch a website. Before Craft, we were complimented on the websites we built, now we’re complimented on the websites we build and the CMS that they’re built on. Clients handing out CMS specific praises was damn near unheard of before we started using Craft. Now it’s a regular occurrence.
If you’re interested in giving your clients more, or tired of security hacks and other CMS shortfalls, give Craft a shot on your next web project.
Rather than having one generic “entry” content type like most CMS platforms, Craft breaks entries into three different categories (or “Sections” as they call them): “Singles”, “Channels” and “Structures”.
Singles are for one-off pages like a homepage or about page. Channels are for repeatable content like news, blog posts or even an A-Z dictionary — - content that’s usually ordered by date or even alphabetically. Structures are for repeatable content that you want to control the order of. Think employees on a team page, or maybe a list of services on your service page. Once you wrap your head around this, it’s a big deal and a huge selling point for Craft CMS.
Craft also has “Globals”, a place to store content that doesn’t quite fit into an entry type. Think primary phone numbers, your company address or even social media links. These snippets of content might be used a few times throughout your website but don’t necessarily belong to a particular page.
Lastly, Craft’s custom fields, specifically Matrix Fields, allow you to manage complex, editorial style pages without the need for coding.
Right out of the box, Craft’s live preview feature is second to none. It’s important for content editors to see the effects of their content changes before going live, and live preview allows you to do just that, in real time, directly from Craft’s control panel.
View an extensive list of Craft’s features at http://craftcms.com/features
A premium platform with an open source foundation
Yii is a fast, secure and professional PHP framework that launched in December 2008, and Twig is an elegant templating language for PHP that came out shortly after in 2009.
This makes Craft unique in that we’re getting the foundation of mature open source frameworks packaged into a premium, paid product. It’s important to note that this also makes Craft extensible if need be to a wider development community than just Craft developers.
So, for the unique situations that Craft doesn’t handle out of the box, you can create plugins or purchase one from a marketplace like Straight Up Craft.
For instance, we built the Donkeytail Craft plugin out of a need to content manage dots on images. In Dallas, Texas there are buildings and new developments going up left and right, and we found ourselves making lots of websites where we needed to map out these new developments that aren’t on Google yet. In order to content manage this, we created a free Craft CMS plugin for content managing dots on images that we keep up-to-date and use on a regular basis.
Relevant Craft CMS dates and milestones
- Development of Craft (Blocks) started shortly after Greg Woods talk on editorial design on the web at EECI 2010 in San Francisco
- Craft Public Beta launched on November 13th, 2012
- Craft 1.0 launched on June 4th, 2013
- Craft 2.0 launched on April 1st, 2014 (not an April fools joke)
- Craft 3 Public Beta was announced on January 31st, 2017, and the official 3.0 release should launch sometime in 2017.
Craft CMS resources and tutorials
If you’re a web developer looking to dig into Craft, here are a few useful links to get you started.
- Happy Lager website - Dig through the code of the official example website built on Craft CMS
- Craft Link List - Craft CMS links and news directly to your inbox
- Mijingo Craft CMS Tutorials - Get up and running with Ryan Irelan’s epic Craft tutorials
- Straight Up Craft - Articles, plugin marketplace and resources
- Craft CMS Stack Exchange - Community run Q&A and support
- Craft Cookbook - a collection of task oriented recipes for commonly used Craft CMS scenarios
You can also join the Slack group and find local community meet ups on the official Craft CMS Community page.