SilverStripe has been out for a couple years, but it is a much newer player than Joomla, Drupal or WordPress (the CMSs we normally put up for clients). This CMS, while not quite as extensible as the other 3, seems more simple to maintain, and as such could be a great option for clients that are more of computer newbies. We’re thinking about adding this CMS to our base installation options for clients. Before we add it to the arsenal though, we need to install it and test it out. Let’s jump into the installation and see how it goes…
Where to get it?
They’ve packaged the CMS into a.tar.gz compression file type. I run Linux so extracting this is normally no problem (it can be a problem on Windows if you don’t have a good unzip tool). I figured that b/c I’m hosting my website on a Linux server, the server unzip tool would allow it… it doesn’t. If I had shell access, I’m sure I could have gone into that and unzipped the file but I’m on cheap shared hosting (through 1and1 that requires me to use their cheap unzip tool). So, I spent a few minutes FTPing the compressed file to my server space and then realized I couldn’t extract it there. So I went back to the original version on my PC, unzipped it and rezipped it as a.zip, re-FTPed it to the server, and then successfully uncompressed it there. While it only added 3-5 minutes to the installation process, it was pretty annoying that SilverStripe doesn’t already come in a.zip flavor.
Read the system requirements
Like any real geek, I didn’t read the server system requirements. I should have. Once I had the file unzipped and where it needed to be I directed my browser to the files to begin the installation and instead of seeing a pretty installation screen I got an error: “Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ‘;’, expecting ‘(‘ in /homepages/2/d209799166/htdocs/comparedom/install.php on line 59”. Again, because I’m using 1and1 (an affordable web host but one that has some quirks) I figured it was because my server is running an old version of PHP. Sure ‘nough… the system requirements on the SilverStripe site say it needs PHP5, and 1and1 is for some crazy reason still pushing PHP4 as their standard. So, I went into the.htaccess file and added the line: “AddType x-mapp-php5.php”. This effectively sets all the files and directories which sit underneath the site root folder to PHP version 5. Refresh browser page… voila, I’ve got the installation screen.
Wrapping up the installation
The rest of the installation went well. You put in your database information, and desired user login credentials and push go. It took less than 10 seconds for the installation scripts to complete. The installation confirmation page even has an option to delete the installation files by just clicking a link (I didn’t test it… sounded too good to be true so I just went into the files via FTP and deleted them manually myself). The site is up, looks just like any empty site waiting for content. The backend seems to be working. Sweet!
Installation was quicker and more intuitive than I expected. Even with the ill planned file compression type, the installation was relatively painless. The process was far easier than installing drupal, and ever so slightly easier than Joomla or WordPress. I’ve only just begun looking into the backend and customizability of SilverStripe, but I can already tell that it isn’t as feature rich as D, J or W. The installation process, for one, didn’t give as many options to extend the CMS from the beginning up. However, it is still FAR more extendable than something like BlogSpot… enough so that it would most likely work for our clients wanting more basic Utah web design plans.