Content Managment Systems…


Like Andy C, I’ve been following Howard Rogers’ CMS journey with interest.

I’m always hopeful I’ll find tools that make my life easier, but as yet I’ve been unable to find a CMS tool that suits me. The biggest problem with all the CMS tools I’ve trialed is the way they use the database. Invariably, each page is generated at runtime from the contents of the database, making the database access speed a major limiting factor for sites with high number of hits. So why serve static and semi-static data from the database?

By far, the majority of my site is static content. If I want to alter the format of the site I alter either the Cascading Style Sheet or 4 simple template files. I don’t revisit each page on the site. That would be lunacy. My homegrown CMS system stores the contents of all my pages in the database, but rather than generating a page for each request, I generate the whole site once, including templates and include files, to flat files and only regenerate individual pages when things change. Dynamic and semi-static content, such as article ratings and RSS feeds, are located in small include files, which are automatically regenerated when necessary.

My difficulty in finding a CMS I like comes from that fact that I have most of the advantages of these CMS systems, like web editing and backup/recovery, but I also get speed thrown into the mix as a bonus.

I guess the hunt continues πŸ™‚



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

18 thoughts on “Content Managment Systems…”

  1. Yes. I am interested in Joomla at the high end of the spectrum. However, at the low end, I would like a more structured, searchable, disconnected repository for my emails, text files, notes, tips and random money making ideas so TiddlyWiki (on a USB stick)
    is also beckoning me with those fluttering eyelashes and come-to-bed smile.

  2. I got (just checking now…) 36,790 (on average) visits per day in January. I’d regard that as a reasonably high number of hits (what is it, 1500 per hour?), yet I haven’t heard of any complaints regarding ‘database access speed [being] a major limiting factor’.

    I could just be lucky, I suppose.

    But each to his own.

  3. I just don’t see the point in getting static data from the database.

    On my site, I can definitely see a difference between the speed of pages that access the database and those that do not, so why delay pages by accessing the database.

    If I was starting today, I would most likely use a CMS, but the fact is I’m not and my current system is more efficient that any CMS I’ve trialed so far. As a result I’m sticking with it until I see something that takes my fancy.



  4. I’ was just suggesting that claiming “the database access speed” is a major issue might be missing the mark. I’d suggest that statement to be 100% completely false for anyone not on broadband for starters!

    I’m also just saying that it has not proved to be an issue for me, and if I had to sit there whilst a crappy MySQL database did its stuff, I’d certainly be the first to complain. But it isn’t (apparent to me, at any rate) so I’m not.

    I happen to see a huge point in handing off site maintenance to something that can do it competently without me worrying about it, and if that means it does something strange with static content, so be it.

    I’m not defending my Joomla move: merely stating that it was 1001% correct for me. If you say it would be X% wrong for you, I believe you, too. I just don’t see the issue about responsiveness you claimed would be the show-stopping issue, and I think I’ve got the volumes where I’d expect I would if they were real concerns. (But I’ve no doubt MySQL, like certain other well-known databases, would have its scalability limits somewhere along the line!)

  5. Howard, during my tests, all CMS systems were slower than serving static pages. I have a homgrown CMS system that allows me to serve static pages. The difference in speed was totally down to the time it took to access the data and build the page on the server side. Why would I choose to slow down my site?I can choose between doing almost no work on the server side, or accessing the database to generate a page before sending it to the browser. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    As I said previously, if I were starting again, I would not invest time in writing my own CMS system, but since I have it already, I see no reason to move to an alternative that serves my content slower. (at the moment :))

    Scalability is in issue even for smaller sites, as I am sharing resources with an unknown number of other sites. If I had a dedicated server I could make certain guarantees. I don’t, I can’t, so the leaner the better for me.



  6. OK, I’ll try and make my point one more time, and then move on.

    Of course accessing a database is going to be slower than not doing so. No argument there. But the issue is, does that matter? Do your (does one’s) visitors notice this? Whilst on the other end of the scale, there all the undoubted benefits of having CMS.

    It’s no good, in other words, declaring there is X% slowdown in page delivery times if that is un-noticeable by anyone other than the site designer with a stopwatch. And if the X% buys you considerable other benefits, the deal is surely worth it and provides its own answer to your question, “Why would I choose to slow down my site?”

    Your argument seems to be that if the X% is measurable in absolute terms, then it represents a “major limiting factor” for the site, and that’s just not my experience. The major limiting factors that I’ve experienced and measured, even at my hit rates, are network congestion, DNS lookups, dial-up and the rate at which Firefox’s engine renders pages compared to Konqueror’s or IE’s. The speed ‘price’ of dynamically serving that which “ought” to be static is nowhere on the radar.

    Does the price exist? Yup. Does it matter? Not in my experience thus far. Is it worth paying? Certainly, for me.

  7. I know exactly what you’re saying Howard, but never the less the difference in speed is noticable, even without a stopwatch.

    You keep mentioning the time saving in using a CMS. I’m not arguing with you there, but I have those time savings already. I don’t write flat files, I edit them online. I don’t have to write HTML, I can use an online HTML editor (, which incidently, Joomla based it’s editor on. I don’t FTP pages around, I just generate them from the database. I don’t backup flat files, I just backup the mySQL database. The only major difference between what we do is you generate a page each time it’s requested, I don’t. You use a CMS someone else wrote, I wrote my own.

    So the only thing I would get by moving to Joomla at this time would be a slower site. Where’s the benefit?

    As I said before, I would not recommend that everyone else spends time writing a CMS. I did it over a number of years when my only database was MS Access.

    Joomla was a good move for you as you were manually editing files in Dreamweaver and had to revisit loads of pages to reformat things. I stopped doing that years ago, so the features of CMS systems like Joomla are no big deal to me.

    I’m happy to continue this discussion, but not if you think you are going to convince me about a course of action that is not write for me at this time.



  8. Christ, Tim. I said: this was right for ME. ME. Get it? Not you. I actually said, if it’s not right for you I ACCEPT that. Horses for courses, and (quoting) “Each to his own”.

    Where in God’s name do you get the idea that I’m trying to convince you of ANYTHING?

    I’m simply stating that what you wrote in your original article is WRONG. The speed differential is NOT the “major limiting factor” in *my experience*. That’s for real experience, not just theorising about it. I’m saying that your description of serving static pages dynamically as “lunacy” is not something that inconveniences my users, and is hardly therefore lunatic.

    I never said ANYTHING about “the time saving in using a CMS”. Time-saving doesn’t come into it. It’s secure. It’s backup-able. It’s mostly W3C compliant without effort. With one SQL dump, I have my entire site rendered safe. It’s an administrative convenience, and yeah, I happen to be able to edit my material via the web. Where on earth did time-saving come into it?

    I couldn’t give a monkey’s whether you use Joomla or not. I don’t care what you use, particularly. I just took issue with the purist and over-theoretical approach your original article followed. There are practical benefits TO ME of using Joomla, and they vastly outweigh any speed issues you might care to mention. That’s all.

  9. Don’t misquote me Howard. If you read my orignial post I said:

    “If I want to alter the format of the site I alter either the Cascading Style Sheet or 4 simple template files. I don’t revisit each page on the site. That would be lunacy.”

    This has nothing do do with the point you are trying to make by misquoting me:

    “I’m saying that your description of serving static pages dynamically as “lunacy””

    I tell you what, I’ll rearrange the words you’ve written to prove that you agree with me πŸ™‚

    As I keep saying, you use a CMS because of the assorted benefits. So do I! The difference is, yours accesses the database for eachpage request, mine does not. By your own admission:

    “Of course accessing a database is going to be slower than not doing so. No argument there. But the issue is, does that matter?”

    Yes, the pages are slower, we both agree on that. Does it matter, obviously not for you, but it does for me. The quiker the better when I’m in a hurry!

    I don’t understand why you seem so worried by this post. It’s all my opinion. I’m a user of my site, like anyone else. In my opinion, the reduction in performance caused by hitting the database for static content is both noticable and unacceptable.

    In terms of the time it takes for the page to be sent to the browser, the DB access is a major portion, so I don’t believe it is unfair for me to say:

    “database access speed a major limiting factor”

    Perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to tell others their opinion is “WRONG”, when you have not been present during the process of making the decision and witness to the testing that was done.



  10. Tim, in terms of misquoting, you take the biscuit. I never said it was a matter of saving time, yet suddenly that’s what I’m supposed to have said. I never suggested for one minute that was serves me should also serve you. I never tried to persuade you of anything, merely tried to correct your gross misstatement of fact about speed being the “major limiting factor”. Yet apparently, according to you, I did all those things.

    Stick to what I write, don’t put your own gloss on my words, and deal with the points I actually make, not the ones you’d like to think I’d made. OK?

    I don’t know how else to put this: but I couldn’t care less what CMS you use or don’t use. All I care about is that you said serving static content dynamically was lunacy and that speed would be “the major limiting factor”. It isn’t, and as an intelligent, rational human being, I have very good reasons for wanting to trade a bit of unnoticed speed for all the benefits of my CMS of choice.

    You have a different CMS that doesn’t require you to make that choice? Good for you, Tim. I’m happy for you. I don’t. I have to live with whatever choices my web host provides for me. I can’t knock up a home-brew CMS; I can only use whatever software they let me install. We each make our choices, and they are made for rational, reasonable decisions, and when you start pronoucing theoretically about lunacy and speed, I take issue with that, OK?

    It’s not a matter of lunacy. The trade-offs I have chosen to make are reasonable, reasoned and rational. And I don’t think a single person would ever notice the speed issue.

    Your opinion is your opinion, Tim, and you’re entitled to it, no matter how misguided and disconnected from the actual facts of running the website in its lunatic configuration for 2 months with 1500 hits per hour might be. I’m not telling you your opinion is WRONG. I’m telling you that your facts are: Speed is not and has not been an issue. And that’s a fact.

    Oh, and I meant to mention: Joomla serves static content as well. It’s why their menu cmanagerr has an option called “Link Static Content”.

    Or did you miss that bit in your extensive product testing?

  11. Attempting to defend your misquote, but not quite managing it from where I’m sitting. Nice πŸ™‚

    Again, using the “lunacy” word out of context. I guess if you spout the same drivel enough you might get people to believe you. The “lunacy” point in my original post had nothing to do with speed. It was quite clearly about site management. You just seem to have latched on to that in a desperate attempt to salvage some face in your otherwise ridiculous argument.

    I don’t give a monkies about how many hits you get per millisecond. As I keep saying, hitting the database is slower than not hitting it. Sorry if you can’t deal with that fact, even though you seemed happy to accept it as a fact before.

    Regarding “Link Static Content”: Yes, I did miss that. I’m surprised you didn’t mention it when I first questioned you about it on your blog. Maybe your extensive product testing wasn’t so good either. Or maybe, unlike me, you launched into a complete site revamp without fully understanding the tool you were using!

    Each to their own πŸ™‚



    PS. I’m glad you are happy with your decision. I’m happy with mine to…

  12. FYI: I just googled for Static Content in Joomla and it is actually served from the database like any other content. The only difference between it and normal content is it does not fit into the normal “Sections/Category/Content Item” heirarchy.

    Several references reported issues with Static Content, especially when trying to search for it, and suggested it should be avoided.

    Thought you might find it useful.



  13. Forgot to mention, I checked this was accurate by creating some static content, publishing it and searching for the content on the file system. Nothing to be seen.

Comments are closed.