Day 1 Review of the Pagekit CMS

pagekit

9 months ago we wrote a Day 1 review of the Ghost platform.

Ghost is designed to be nothing but a blog.

Now along comes the Alpha version of Pagekit, which aims to be more of a true CMS.

Pagekit is developed by the YOOtheme team from Hamburg. We’ve used their work before on projects, including on the redesign of this site.

So we were curious about Pagekit. Keeping in mind that this is only an Alpha version, let’s take Pagekit for a test drive.

What is Pagekit?

According to YOOtheme, Pagekit is designed to be a more lightweight and modern alternative to Joomla / WordPress / Drupal.

Pagekit is written in PHP and relies on Symfony components, which will also power Drupal 8.

For design, Pagekit uses it’s own templating engine called Razr.

The whole project is under the MIT license and is free to download. Presumably commercial extensions will be coming shortly and, as this is the project of a theme company, commercial themes certainly will be.

Installation

If you go to the Pagekit website it will encourage you to register.

However, if you don’t want to you can download Pagekit from the docs page or from Github.

Pagekit comes in a 9 MB file that extracts to show this folder structure:

  • App: the configuration, cache and user sessions.
  • Extensions: the core and 3rd party features.
  • Storage: your uploads like pictures and videos.
  • Themes: your design files
  • Vendor: external libraries that are used by Pagekit.
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The database tables for Pagekit look much more like WordPress than the far larger structure of Drupal or Joomla:

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Installation is a quick 5-step process. It’s worth noting that you will need at least PHP 5.4 to run Pagekit, which isn’t the default on most shared hosting.

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The Dashboard

When you first login to Pagekit you see a very basic dashboard with three items:

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Navigating the Pagekit admin is done entirely from the menu in the top-left corner:

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Creating Content

Pagekit has two options for creating content: Pages and Blog.

Think of these as exactly the same as WordPress Pages and Posts. The Pagekit Pages are for static content and the Blog is for time-sensitive content.

Pagekit offers either Markdown or HTML for writing posts. There’s no real WYSIWYG option.

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Multi-media is really well done. As with the latest WordPress versions you can just take a URL of a video from YouTube and drop it directly into the content. Not only will it work, but it will show in the preview:

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The linking system is nicely done. It’s very easy to create internal links to other pages:

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On the other hand, the image handling leaves a lot to be desired. There are no options beyond an ALT tag::

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Pagekit very directly borrows the full-screen preview mode from Ghost. I’ll admit that I’m no fan of markdown. However, seeing the markdown on the left and then the live preview on the right did make it much easier for me to write.

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Extensions

Apps in Pagekit are called Extensions. There are only two by default, the Pages and Blog features we mentioned above.

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There is a marketplace to install new extensions, but only two are available at the moment:

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One confusing part of the extension process is that you need to register on Pagekit.com and go to the Settings area to get an API key. You’ll need to then go back to your Pagekit site and enter the API key into /admin/system/settings/.

Without the API key, no extensions will install. It’s not clear why this API key is necessary to install even free extensions.

Themes

Themes also have a marketplace that relies on an API key. Here’s what the basic Pagekit theme structure looks like:

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And here’s the content of the main template file, showcasing the Razr template engine:

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Widgets

Menus, blocks and other sidebar elements are all called Widgets in Pagekit.

YOOtheme have done a nice job here. There’s the drag-and-drop re-ordering of Drupal and some of the sophisticated options from Joomla, all in a cleaner layout:

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Menus

Menus are widgets, but like all the major CMSs, they’re handled in their own section of the admin. Like the widgets screen, YOOtheme have done a good job here.

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The menus are easy to navigate and it’s easy to drill down to different types of link:

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Permissions

Pagekit users are placed into “Roles”. The default roles are “Anonymous, “Authenticated” and “Administrator”. Each role is given permissions via a series of checkboxes.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The permissions system is almost exactly the same as Drupal. Everything from the layout to the terminology is borrowed directly from Drupal.

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Weaknesses

I’ve covered all the major Pagekit features. What about where it’s lacking?

  • Support: This has never been strength of YOOtheme’s core business. For Pagekit, there’s a Google Group, a Google Plus community and a HipChat link: “We are usually online between 8:00 and 18:00 UTC”. None of that was easy to find.
  • Documentation: There is quite a bit for developers to get started with at http://pagekit.com/docs/quickstart but there’s very little for users yet.
  • Roadmap: Beyond a short description here, I couldn’t find any information about the future. What’s on the roadmap? How difficult will version upgrades be?
  • Community: Ghost had a huge fundraising drive which helped drive publicity and involvement. Pagekit must built that momentum. There are no themes or extensions available yet and no large companies I’ve seen, apart from YOOtheme, has committed to building them.
  • Business model: I’m always much more comfortable with projects that have a clear business model. How do YOOtheme plan to make money from Pagekit? Simply from themes or is there a bigger plan? What’s the API key for? In comparison, Ghost has been very clear and upfront about this.

Final Thoughts

It seems as if the YOOtheme team deliberately sat down to borrow the best from Ghost, Drupal, Joomla and WordPress. To some extent, they’ve succeeded. However, a good platform is never enough.

A lot of these simpler platforms are launching at the moment. Right now I’m reminded me of 2003 / 2004 / 2005 when a lot of the older generations of CMS platforms launched. From that era, only WordPress, Joomla and Drupal succeeded in getting much traction. I suspect the same will be true of this generation too. There’s 101 new lightweight platforms being created. Only a handful are likely to succeed.

Will Pagekit be in that group? It’s way too early to tell, but this is a promising start.

Instructor

  • Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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SWEUP

Ok, maybe stupid question. Why start a new CMS, why not contribute more for Joomla and WordPress? A bit sceptic that a company starting a new thing (not a community). Who will set the direction of the new CMS if not Yootheme. A bit harsh here, of course fun with development of new CMS.

Edit: gr8 review

steve

Good point, Sweup.
I think that’s most people’s valid reaction to launches like this … why re-invent the wheel?
The burden is really on the developers to prove that they offer enough added value to dislodge the incumbents.

Dan Knauss

I am not sure what their motives and goals are, but don’t all new CMS projects tend to start from developers’ negative reactions to large amounts of legacy code in older projects that simply can’t be addressed by incremental changes? Maybe to a lesser extent it is also the usability factors that put off end users and the people who build sites for them.
I’d also guess that having a well-established CCK and frontend framework is like having 9/10ths of a CMS, so why not just do it all? If YOO does development work for clients and/or supports agencies who do client work with YOO products, why not take the path of Ellis Labs and Expression Engine but with a free, MIT licensed product using other major open source frameworks with permissive licenses?
Pagekit was less than I expected in its interface, especially with the sharp distinction between a front end where you can’t do anything and a back end where you do everything. I also thought Pagekit would showcase its potential for a flexible, agnostic approach to content types rather than give you only “Pages” and a “Blog” out of the box.
There seems to be an assumption built into “Pages” that a content author is always a (single) user with an account in the CMS. If this is accepted as the default and extensions/themes assume this, it will be very limiting. Forward thinking in this area would treat authors as another piece of content or a content taxonomy. This is one area where a core limitation in WP and Joomla seems to have been retained.

Reydesel Aguirre

The answer it´s easy, it´s a CMS Framework, not a full cms.
If you have a wordpress CMS and you have to make something like a new widget, in a theme with some custom content that has a category same as posts.
In wordpress you need to modify a theme, make a widget and modify the wordpress default theme to get a category out of posts.
Here you have to make it like if you where working with laravel or fuelPHP.
It´s just a easy and powerfull modificable CMS Framework and not a CMS.

pepperstreet

Usually I don’t dare to post comments like this 😉
How did you install that thing?!
I followed 2 different install instructions… One was to open the install location ../pagekit/ but the quickstart documentation says I should append ../pagekit/installer

Both ways don’t work for me. I can’t even see this directory, nor a proper install php file. Any clues? Do I really miss the obvious?
OSX10.8.5 – MAMP 2.2

blank, white page?!

steve

Sounds like you might not have the right server requirements. Are you definitely on PHP 5.4, for example?

pepperstreet

my first thought, too… I’ve checked everything twice.

(I wonder about the installer path/file in general, which file is actually used/called?)

Dan Knauss

You also need __Apache 2.2+__ and mod_rewrite.
Rewrite is not handled well in the .htaccess file that’s installed, so in a lot of environments you’ll get through the installation process and then get a 404 when you try to access the backend. It will work on the current version of WAMP, but not XAMPP and typical shared hosting. If you run into this problem, check the Pagekit “Issues” list on github for emerging solutions. There’s a pull request now for an improved .htaccess file.

pepperstreet

Thanks for the infos. Thought YT has a lot of MAC-people, thus MAMP lovers and users 😉 Maybe the current alpha is just too much “alpha” for my taste (and environment). I will give it some more time.

Dan Knauss

Yes, I was surprised about this too. I had no luck with a local install on my Mac and had to switch to a Windows machine. They have some cross-platform issues to work out.
It’s not nearly as complicated as Ghost is if you’re not familiar with the command line, Node, or Bitnami. But the PHP and Apache (or NGINX) requirements for Pagekit are quite a jump for the common WP or J! user.
I would guess the YOO folks have zero experience testing application software with a wide range of server environments, especially typical low-end hosts. But now they will learn this. They will really benefit from a solid hosting partner, and they are looking for one.

Lenda Wright

it worked on my mac but it took me 15 minutes to realize that I was actually in the admin area. ;P

Too much empty spaces that I feel like in the front end.

BettonDesign

I had the same problem, it turns out I hadn’t uploaded the .htaccess file. Worked a charm after.

pepperstreet

Tried latest package (0.8.4). htaccess file from 28th juli. Works on MAMP 2.2 🙂

Kasper White

Ok, where to start. A) Installation was ridiculous. Reminded me of trying to get Atom to work under windows. I finally found a hack/work around that got it working. Great Idea, I can see where the dev’s were going with this, it’s a cleaner, better blog cms (like facebook or any of the other i haven’t used) butttt. Releasing an alpha product is hurting you more than helping you. IMHO, I would of waited for more FREE themes, that your employees should of made to draw people in, you can’t start charging until you have people’s interest with a bunch of free groundwork. Which is non-existent, poorly documented and spread through multiple sites/areas. Great idea, with enough resources and dedication who knows? but you guys have a llooooonnnng way to go. I’ll take the uglier interface and the cruddy WYSIWYG editor with hundreds of free plugins any day. Most of the time I can look at the code and reverse engineer something if its basic (in my cms of choice, WordPress). I think if you just package it a little better, through a few bells n whistles without having to download every part separate (ie put the framework, with the package with the ui, I mean seriously>?) If people don’t want it then they can delete it. I can literally write for the next hour so I’ll shut up. Nice job, great idea, hope it works. right now it’s a bowl of pudding more than a framework. Sorry for all the bad grammar and spelling but I am supposed to be getting work done!

pepperstreet

“… There’s 101 new lightweight platforms being created. Only a handful are likely to succeed… ”

So true. In general, I like these new approaches and their simplicity, but I am really curious about the further development and options for PageKit. Especially CCK/custom fields, Search & Filter capabilities, multi-language. At least, I do expect something like “ZOO”.

steve

Yes, no word yet on those possible future developments.

Dan Knauss

The roadmap is up in the air pending feedback: [url=http://pagekit.com/blog/2014/07/21/pagekit-public-alpha-launch]http://pagekit.com/blog/201…[/url] Email them, or comment on the blog, or post feature requests in Github — those seem to be the channels that are in use.

steve

Great, thanks for that link, Dan

xenocast

You nailed this review. Support, business model, roadmap. These are the issues. The fact that many paying customers felt burned by support and the lack of living up to promises made to early adopters of (paid) ZOO will not help the cause here. Those people like myself could be evangelizing for them but are instead at best skeptics or worse, detractors. There are good reasons for lightweight CMS, (or another CCK for Joomla!) that doesn’t mean that because you make nice designs, you are the right person or organization to build and SUPPORT one.

Jagabomb

Has anybody successfully installed this on a sqlite configuration with a wamp or lamp server? I’m struggling to propagate the database in the installation. Not really interested in a using mysql because of live server constraints.

Sascha

Nice review! Here are just some quick notes:
Support and Community
You find all information on how to get involved with Pagekit here [url=http://pagekit.com/get-involved]http://pagekit.com/get-invo…[/url] and for developers here [url=http://pagekit.com/developers]http://pagekit.com/developers[/url]
Documentation
It is a bit early for end user guides. We created some and you can find them in the docs repro on GitHub. But they are already getting old. [url=https://github.com/pagekit/docs]https://github.com/pagekit/…[/url] We will work on end user guides once Pagekit enters Beta stage.
Roadmap
Good point, we created a roadmap page [url=http://pagekit.com/roadmap]http://pagekit.com/roadmap[/url] Or check out the Milestones at GitHub.
Marketplace
We published some more information about the Marketplace [url=http://pagekit.com/the-marketplace]http://pagekit.com/the-mark…[/url]
The current focus of the Alpha release is on making Pagekit a great web application framework for developers. Finding out what developers are missing, stabalizing the API, getting feedback on different server environments, etc. After that the focus will shift on the CMS and its user interface, workflows and features. All this stuff is likely to change before the final release.

F Aucoin

Great article Steve. I really enjoyed reading it.
I just took Pagekit for a test drive (as a user) for the first time this morning, but I have yet to check out how templating (and everything else) works… I understand (as also explained by Sasha) that the alpha version is mostly intended for extension developers, which justifies the fact that there are not much features available yet for “users”.
From what I have seen so far, I think that your description of Pagekit (in this article) is pretty accurate. So, once again, great job with that.
Regarding the business model, I was always under the impression that they (YOOtheme) were developing Pagekit so that they could make money out of the third-party extensions being sold on their app store (i.e. the marketplace); you know, much like with third-party apps that are being sold on the Apple Store. Does this make sense?
Finally, here are my questions/suggestions/reported bugs/etc. Please correct me if I am wrong or missing the point on any of them. I will also post them on the Google+ community.
– There is no SSL support when creating a user account on [url=http://pagekit.com]pagekit.com[/url]
– Also, SSL does not appear to be working well for “admin login” (in SSL mode, I was not able to fetch weather data, pagekit updates, and so on)
– Offline access for the site’s front end is not possible, even for admins (or am I missing something)?
– I think that it is not possible to specify meta description for pages and blog posts (it’s probably because it’s only the alpha version though).

steve

Great comment, thanks Francois
Yes, that was my guess to with the business model, although it would be nice to know more.
Will they take a % of all sales, for example?
Regardless, I guess that question is somewhat secondary to the question of whether they can build momentum and audience.

F Aucoin

Steve,
I think that you are right to say that “how they will be able to make money with it is secondary”; they first need to attract interested developers and users to build a strong community…
In my case, I have been using their themes and components for more than a year now, and I must admin that I am a satisfied user. That is mainly why I think (and hope) that Pagekit could be a success, but that we’ll see. 🙂

Christopher Raymond

My hunch is YOOtheme will charge for the API key in some shape or form. I would imagine that is

the revenue source for this project – a subscription model.
I like YOOtheme a lot. They do quality work and always look forward to the new template of the month. But I have to ask, what void does Pagekit fill? From what I seen so far gives me no reason to consider trying it. I’m with SWEUP – why not just contribute to Joomla to make it a better platform.

steve

Yes, that was my thought too, Christopher
I’m not going to tell YooTheme how to run their business. They can charge for the API key if they want.
But personally, I need clarity on these things before considering using it for real projects.

webfoundry

Nice article Steve. In a nutshell, support is the Achilles heel of YooTheme. Their stuff always looks good, but the implementation for moderately technical users can be rough. If they get support nailed they could be onto a winner, but it needs to be baked into the core of their business and a part of their ethos – rather like Siteground do with hosting.

Lenda Wright

Great review! I was patiently waiting for pagekit to come out! After alot of frustration using Joomla as a third party developer selling extensions. Pagekit looks very promising and seems to have a good/fair treatment for 3rd developers as pointed out in there website! Now someone knows something about being a 3rd party developer!

Taimur Aziz

I think it is a bit early to judge a software in its Alpha phase.

steve

Yes, absolutely. I hope I left the post fairly open-ended.
And regardless of whether codebase is good or bad, there’s still 101 other things that we can’t judge yet, but will influence whether a project will be worth following or not.

Lenda Wright

Yootheme does have a great products! But the support is terrible even for a paid user.

HolgerKoenemann

I released the first (and free) Pagekit theme called “Shelly”. Check out:

[url=http://holgerkoenemann.de/pagekit/]http://holgerkoenemann.de/p…[/url]

or install it from the Pagekit marketplace.

It isnt stable and quite basic, but feel free to test ist.

Evert Albers

You could also check out Bolt, [url=http://bolt.cm]http://bolt.cm[/url] , another Symfony-based CMS which is more flexible and mature. (As I write this, v 2.0 seems to be around the corner)

philholt

Hi Steve, any idea if this project is dead? Heard nothing from the developers in months and their blog looks to have dried up. I tried asking them directly, but unsurprisingly never got a response. Pity if it is, looked promising.

steve

Phil – I was wondering the same.
I’ve seen no publicity about it lately. They haven’t written an update in the whole of 2015: [url=http://www.pagekit.com/blog]http://www.pagekit.com/blog[/url]
But on Github there does seem to be a steady stream of commits: [url=https://github.com/pagekit/pagekit/commits/develop]https://github.com/pagekit/…[/url]

philholt

Sounds like it gone back a few steps into a fundamental reworking of its code base as marketing and communications seems to have stopped dead. Let’s see what happens next, but I’m not holding my breath.

Maikel

WordPress is super slow (giving you low google pagespeed insights score) resulting in less good SEO performance. Also WordPress is full with zero day leaks and spammers that have crawlers activated just for wordpress only plugins. I am glad I switched to a different CMS but takes a lot of time to learn everything and also you need to code something by yourself which is fun and frustrating at the same time lol.

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