Plone Conf 2018 Training Day 2 - Intro to CastleCMS

Intro to CastleCMS by Kim Nguyen is a half-day session for content editors, decision makers, site owners. CastleCMS is an enhanced distribution of Plone. CastleCMS is explicitly designed for creating and maintaining websites with a large amount of content, allows many content editors to be working on different parts of the site simultaneously, moreover, ensures high-quality content with built-in checks for standard errors and accessibility compliance.
Plone Conf 2018 Training Day 2 - Intro to CastleCMS

Like Plone, CaslteCMS is open-source system and is available on Github. However, in the training, we use a pre-config Virtualbox version for CastleCMS to get us rolling with exploring the rich features of CastleCMS. Straight out of the box, I was impressed by the sleek design and feel of CastleCMS. It is clean, friendly and intuitive. I could see the clear difference in usability between Plone and CastleCMS, and of course other CMSs like Drupal and Wordpress.

Before I continue, I should point out that you can visit CastleCMS Help website or read the training guide for more details.

Creating new content is done on-page from anywhere to be stored wherever you desire by using a modal popup. 

Adding new content to CastleCMS

CastleCMS takes advantage of Mosaic layout to edit and design pages without worrying about the technical stuff.

Mosaic Layout Editor

It's very instinctive and comes with tonnes of predefined tiles and fragments that you can drag and drop onto the page. Furthermore, slots are the big game changer in CastleCMS. It's the replacement for portlets in Plone. Slots allow adding interactive content or theme fragments around the main content area of any content page. It's pretty impressive, especially the ability to preview page on various environments such as desktop, tablet and phones. As a developer, this is not a big win since there's the inspect element, but for a content editor or non-techies, which are the end-users, it is. Another useful feature for me was the ability to view on-page analytics from Google Analytics. There's even a notification menu for site owners to track changes made to the site.

What I find amazing about CastleCMS is that it has a crawler and search engine feature, whereby it can search for content on other sites. This feature is handy for government agencies, universities, law firms and other industrial websites that deal with a lot of internal and external content.

CastleCMS Crawler

Crawler Results

When it comes on to security, well, it goes beyond the overpowered security mechanism of Plone by adding IP and location locking for logged in users or editors. Session tracking and management to see who's active on the site, which can kick a user off the site, no evil thoughts here. Two-factor authentication is a feature of CastleCMS. Therefore, site owners can go full blown paranoia if they like.

There is so much good stuff I can say about CastleCMS when it comes on to managing content, users and security when it comes on to a content editor and site owners. However, as a developer or theme editor, my biggest and only problem with CastleCMS is that Diazo has been removed. Diazo, to me, is one of the most significant strengths of Plone. Being able to drop any time on top of Plone and use Diazo along with XSLT to replace the theme content and elements Plone's content and elements is one of the reasons I enjoy using Plone. One of the reasons for the removal of Diazo was because many individuals would do a one-to-one mapping between the theme and their content. Therefore, not many individuals would do advance theme customisation and transformation using Diazo.

In summary, CastleCMS is incredible despite the removal of Diazo. I will most definitely use it on a future project. You can request a demo to find out more about CastleCMS and how it can benefit you and your audience based on your needs and wants. Visit castlecms.io for more details.

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