Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Why We Choose Craft
Out of the ashes grows an elegant, modern content management system.
Once upon a time, the very first content management system (CMS) we fell in love with was ExpressionEngine (EE). For years we built EE sites because it was the best tool for most of our jobs. Times change rapidly on the Internet, and over the years EE grew long in the tooth. The platform was unable to stay ahead of the curve or address the gaps identified by their user community at large.
These days, however, we have a new love: Craft. It's built by the fine folks at Pixel & Tonic, who rose to notoriety initially as one of the premier add-on developers in the EE world. They, better than anyone, saw not only the shortcomings of the platform but ways they could be addressed if a new product was constructed from the ground up. The result has been nothing short of magnificent, for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, Craft is essentially a blank canvas from which to work. Unlike many CMS systems, there is no reliance on templates of any kind. Whatever HTML you bring into Craft become your templates / page types. Bringing those HTML pages to life inside of the CMS is easy thanks to Craft's use of the powerful Twig templating engine.
From a content perspective, Craft offers a wide range of field types that cover almost any type of content a site might need to contain. What's more, you can organize fields into groups and sort them in any order you wish from within each entry, giving you almost unlimited variability from page to page. The system also let's you use your fields across everything in Craft from Users to Assets.
User Friendly Control Panel
The Craft control panel simple and elegant, which makes it very user friendly. Adding or editing new content or media is extremely intuitive. Add to that, the control panel is also responsive, which means users can add and edit content on the go from their mobile devices.
Content editors absolutely love Craft's Live Preview feature. A split screen view provides users the ability to view an entry in its current state before committing it to the live website. Users can even see changes they make in real time via the split screen.
Long Form Content with Matrix (!)
Matrix was originally built as an add-on to fill a void in EE, and was one of the platform's most popular add-ons ever. When Pixel and Tonic decided to build their own CMS, Matrix was central to the effort, and thus baked into Craft's core. The gist is, Matrix allows you to create blocks of differing types of content (text, videos, pictures, etc) on the fly and then order them as you see fit. Essentially, this allows for content editors to easily build out custom pages based on specific types of content.
Modern websites tend to be photo driven, so its great that Craft makes storing media files (images, video, pdf files, etc.) so simple. Craft dedicates 'Assets' to this task, and it makes not only storing but relating your assets to your content a snap. Another huge plus is that out of the box Assets is easy to bind to your choice of CDN's: Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud or Google Cloud.
Easy, One-Click Updates
As wonderful as content management system platforms can be, just like everything else they age. Updating systems is vital for the long term health and the security of any CMS. In the past, even with our platforms of choice, updating could be a downright chore. Craft, on the other hand, offers single click updates that actually make one look forward to moving to the latest and greatest builds. Brilliantly, Craft also backs up your system just before it updates so that if you ever an encounter an issue you can roll back to the previous version.
And speaking of versions, the Craft team is absolutely prolific and dedicated to the continual improvement of their product. Their openness and willingness to work with the community is nothing short of outstanding.
Our Clients Love It
At the end of the day no matter how much we love a tool like Craft, if our clients don't feel the same we haven't done our job. Luckily for us, we've not had a single client profess anything but excitement to flat out joy over the ease in which Craft allows them to interact with their site's content.