ColdFusion Muse

The Greatest Coldfusion Product Ever

I'd like to take a moment to recommend a product. If you need a CMS system that is full featured, scales well, has a great community and cost nothing - then do not hesitate to try Farcry from daemon. We are in the midst of a project using Farcry to support a major medical center. To put it mildly, Farcry is the best Coldfusion product available. I have tested or used other CMS systems like Red Dot, Paper Thin, Hot-Banana something (singularly unappealing), but Farcry makes them all eat dust. If you want to know more - both pros and cons - read on.

Pros

  • Extensible - Farcry has an ingenious method of allowing extensibility. You have folders and then you have project folders. The core folders contain core components and the project folders contain components specific to your site. To extend a core component you can simply add custom versions of the core components into your project. You can even extend the web top and add new tabs to the menu.
  • Containers - By adding containers to your webskin templates you can control the content of multiple or individual pages. Design mode makes it easy. Simply add a "rule" for the item you want to display. The rule could be flash, images, news, events, static html and probably other stuff.
  • Site Builder - You can build your content tree in a single step using the site builder.
  • Cut and Paste Navigation - You can move your site tree nodes around using cut and paste.
  • CF Application Wrapping - You can wrap an existing application into Farcry using includes. This is great for existing sites where editors and publishers want to be able to edit content items on application pages.
  • Webskinning - If you are using CSS for layout, this process will open your eyes to the possibilities of farcry. Do yourself a favor and install the default skin (mollio) and just play around with the templates and containers for a while.
  • Multiple DB support - No Access (that's a PRO not a CON) but MySQL, MSSQL and Oracle. These are all supported through a brokering approach that makes it work seamlessly. You can even have multiple sites using the same core classes pointed to different DBs. So you could have 1 site that is Oracle and another that is MSSQL.
  • Mollio - this is the web skin that comes with the CMS. It's really excellent and has a complete set of views and display templates. You can use mollio to discover what you need to know about templates, containers and the like.
  • Outstanding Community - the Google group is especially good. I have had responses to most of my questions and been able to resolve pretty much any problem I have run into.
  • Friendly URLs - Using ISAPI rewrite or Mod_Rewrite you can easily retool your entire site to use friendly URLs. Seriously - a single rule is all it took.

CONs

  • Open Source - To be fair this is a "pro" as well, but there are things about open source I don't like. For one thing the documentation tends to be poor. It's not that there isn't a great deal of documentation. It's just that open source projects depend on developers to write it. Developers, when they can be cajoled into writing, tend to leave all the simple explanations and assume that you know the basics. They focus on examples. Examples are great - paramount in fact - but all the simple stuff needs to be explained and there needs to be more quick start information. In addition, the manuals and docs always lag behind the current version.
  • Complex - This is the nature of a full fledged CMS. Farcry is immensely complex and involves importing tag libraries and lots of abstract concepts (containers, mirrors, brokering and the like).
  • Skinning the Webtop - retooling your site is straightforward. Retooling the web top however was a bear. Unlike the site content the web top has lots of files buried in odd places with tables and inconsistent properties. I have no doubt this is due to the evolution of Farcry over time.
  • Australian User Base - I hope I don't offend my Aussie friends but the email list is much more active in the early morning and evening. This can be an issue when you are trying to solve a problem and need a reasonably fast answer. Don't get me wrong - the list is very responsive. It's just in a different time zone. Being an American I would naturally prefer that all products as excellent as Farcry were based in the US. I am therefore starting a letter writing campaign to the Bush Administration to send troops to free all Aussies from their oppressive parliamentary system and make them the fifty first US state :)

I hope you can tell I really love this product. If you have a customer needing a CMS, whatever you do, don't sell them on some 75,000 dollar a year system until you have checked it out.

Comments
Stephen Moretti's Gravatar Nice post Mark. I think what you've written here mirrors what I've found. I'm looking forward to seeing what Gonzales(sp?) if like.

I think the thing that throws me the most is doing the simple things and as you say its the simple that are least documented. Once I get past those I'm usually ok and start getting into the more complex stuff by default.

I wish the google group was a little more active, but that may be because we've just been through the summer holidays period. Oh and by the way... I'm in the UK ;oP
# Posted By Stephen Moretti | 9/11/06 12:11 PM
Damien McKenna's Gravatar I'd have to say I strongly disagree with your Con:Open Source item. There are many open source apps with simply wonderful documentation, even in the smaller CFML world, and many have better documentation than commercial competitors. So instead just say the documentation sucks, why blame it on its open-source-ness?

Also, the Complexity and Skinning cons suggest a single core problem, that its core needs a redesign to be easier to use and have a more abstracted View.

One question off the top of my head, any idea how would it handle content sharing across multiple sites?
# Posted By Damien McKenna | 9/11/06 12:45 PM
mkruger's Gravatar Damien,

"Wonderful documentation" is a point of view. Open source projects have a reputaion, not for "lacking" documentation but for having convoluted documentation written by folks who are not by nature communicators of written concepts. In my view the docs "tend to be poor". I did not say they "suck" or anything overly negative. And I did say that open source was also a "pro" (read carefully). I like open source and use it but I'm not one a "faithful believer" like many who see commercial software as tyranical. Still, I did cite farcry as "the best ever" - that's saying something don't you think?
# Posted By mkruger | 9/11/06 12:58 PM
mkruger's Gravatar Whoops.. I missed your comment about same-content multiple sites. You could certainly use the same datsource and create a couple of different site roots.... that might be too much integration. You can syndicate pretty much anything to an RSS feed (easy) and do it that way. Or you could create a custom feed include... there might be another way. I'll find out for you.
# Posted By mkruger | 9/11/06 1:01 PM
Damien McKenna's Gravatar Mark, on the shared content, I'm mostly thinking about media - images, etc, though textual content would be nice too.

I think your explanation of docs vs open-source would have been better if you had actually listed open-source as being a Pro and then listed Documentation as a con, rather than lumping them together as a Con with the title "Open Source". I understand your grievance, and there are many times when I wish certain OSS had better docs (OpenLDAP configuration & integration...) but I think your presentation of this negative was a bit confusing.
# Posted By Damien McKenna | 9/11/06 1:11 PM
greg h's Gravatar Thank you for this excellent post!

Not included among your list of "other CMS systems" "I have tested or used" was Savvy Content Manager. Can anyone offer pros and cons of Farcry vs Savvy?

I ask because last month Savvy offered ColdFusion and Adobe user groups free copies. Plus, they teamed up with CFDynamics to offer not just free, but free and hosted Savvy. Details here:
www.besavvy.com/blog/index.cfm/2006/8/21/Free-Web-...

We had the wheels in motion to use Farcry but are now thinking about Savvy because "free and hosted" would seem to free more time for other core group activities.

If anyone can provide even a short Farcry vs Savvy comparison, it would be appreciated :-)

g
# Posted By greg h | 9/11/06 3:18 PM
Tony Petruzzi's Gravatar I think the think that would make FarCry really good is a zip file on their website where you can download the thing!?! I can't stand it when you have to do checkouts from a repository to get applications. What the heck ever happened to just zipping the thing up.
# Posted By Tony Petruzzi | 9/11/06 6:06 PM
Phil Truesdale's Gravatar Small correction: The default set of skins is 'mollio,' not folio.
# Posted By Phil Truesdale | 9/11/06 7:26 PM
Dale Fraser's Gravatar Tony,

There is a zip file on the website where you can download the whole thing.
# Posted By Dale Fraser | 9/11/06 10:06 PM
djw's Gravatar Tony: If you are after ZIPs, try http://www.farcrycms.org/go/downloads (and http://www.farcrycms.org/go/downloads/release-notes" target="_blank">http://www.farcrycms.org/go/downloads/release-note...)

cheers

David
# Posted By djw | 9/11/06 10:08 PM
Mark Picker's Gravatar You can also get ZIP downloads (including nightly bleeding edge builds for v4) from Jeff Coughlin's site:

http://www.jeffcoughlin.com/?pg=11

While your there, also check out the FarCry Tutorials at:

http://www.jeffcoughlin.com/?pg=9

Cheers
Mark
# Posted By Mark Picker | 9/12/06 8:42 PM
David G. Moore, Jr.'s Gravatar Mark - do you still feel the same about FarCry even now, 4 years later?
# Posted By David G. Moore, Jr. | 10/9/10 6:53 PM



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