WebMake Documentation (version 2.4)

WebMake as a CMS

WebMake is, arguably, a Content Management System, or CMS.

To be more specific, it's oriented entirely towards generating a relatively static site, such as a weblog, a news site (without comments or personalisation) or a typical informational site.

It does not have any dynamic, database-driven, features suitable for "live" sites that update frequently with dynamic data; nor does it have support for "personalisation" features, where the site displays different data based on what the user presents in their HTTP request. (Of course, using WebMake does not preclude using PHP, mod_perl, Mason etc. to provide these, however.)

Here's the relevant details of what it can do.

WebMake's CMS Features

  • Separation between content and layout

    Since, logically, content and layout are entirely separate tasks, they should be easy to keep separate in the CMS.

    WebMake uses content references to include content into pages, and implement templating. This allows you to separate the content text from the template layout HTML; the template designers just need to include a content reference, such as ${body}, instead of the text.

  • No requirement for text editors to know HTML

    Only the layout staff should really need to know HTML, so the staff who provide text content can do this without HTML knowledge.

    WebMake provides Text::EtText, which provides an easy-to-edit, easy-to-read and intuitive way to write HTML, based on the plain-text markup conventions we've been using for years.

  • Generation of pages automatically, using metadata from content items

    It should be possible to generate index pages, sitemaps, navigation links, and other text automatically, based on properties and metadata of the pieces of content loaded.

    WebMake supports this by allowing any content item to carry arbitrary textual metadata. Perl code can then be used to dynamically request a list of content items that have a particular set of metadata, and any page can refer to another content item's title, description, abstract etc. without itself needing to parse the content text.

  • Flexible URL support

    It should be trivial to rearrange a site, if required, totally changing the URLs used in the site's pages.

    WebMake supports this by using symbolic URL references, which can be modified by changing one line, causing references to that URL throughout the site to change.

  • Edit-In-Page Functionality

    Most CMSes boast a nice, browser-based user interface to creating, naming, uploading and filling out content items and media.

    WebMake now provides a CGI script, which allows a certain degree of web-based maintainance and content editing. It's not quite as foolproof as some of the bigger CMS systems, but it's a start!

What WebMake Is Missing

  • Database Support

    It would be nice if WebMake could load content from a database. It currently cannot, although there's nothing in the architecture that would preclude this; there just has not been a need, just yet.

    Unfortunately, this may not be possible -- this IBM software patent details a mechanism whereby a server can dynamically rebuild its pages, based on changes to objects in a database. WebMake could run afoul of this if database support is added (although there are a few points where this could be avoided).

  • XSLT Support

    This will definitely arrive -- as soon as a good XSLT engine becomes part of Perl, or at least becomes easy to install from CPAN. It's on my list ;)

  • Workflow

    There's currently no logic to support workflow. This would not be difficult to add, though.

WebMake Documentation (version 2.4)
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