Tutorial

Taking a Look at Anchor CMS

There are many blogging softwares out there besides WordPress. I think a lot of people forget how many alternatives there is, and just stick with what’s popular. Undoubtedly, there are risks involved when trying website software that isn’t as well-known or doesn’t have a huge team of developers. But who knows, you might find something that you like more and that is easier for you to use.

Recently I heard about Anchor CMS, which is described as a simple and lightweight blogging software. I saw a few pictures of it, so I decided to take a look for myself. This is what I experienced:

Features (From Main Site).

  • Markdown-happy (Write in markdown or html).
  • Teeny-tiny (~150kb).
  • Drag-n-drop (Adding things is as simple as dragging and dropping).
  • Open-source.
  • Works in your language (Anchor is fully i18n compatible).
  • Super-simple theming.
  • Painfully easy to install.
  • Extensible (Unlimited Custom Fields).
  • Art-directed blogging (Custom CSS, HTML, or Javascript for any post/page).
  • Forever free

Installing Anchor CMS

Step 1) Download Anchor CMS.

Step 2) Extract Anchor CMS.

Step 3) Connect to your webhost via FTP, and upload the Anchor CMS files to your public website directory.

Step 3b) Make sure that the “contents” and “config” folder have 0777 permissions.

Step 4) Create a database for Anchor CMS.

Note: Make sure to keep track of your database name and user information.

If you’re using CPanel, login, find and open “MySQL Database Wizard” then:

In the New Database field, enter a name for the database.

Click Next Step.

In the Username field, enter a name for the user allowed to manage the database.

In the Password field, type the user’s password.

Retype the password in the Password (Again) field.

Click Create User.

Select the privileges you wish to grant the user, or select ALL PRIVILEGES.

Click Next Step.

You should then see a message stating that the database and user account were successfully set up

Step 5) Go to the destination where you uploaded Anchor CMS

http://www.domain.tld/anchor/

You should see this:

welcome to anchor cms

Step 5b) Click “Run Installer”

Step 5c) Select your language,  time zone and click “Next Step”

anchor cms language time zone

Step 5d) Enter your database information and click “Next Step”

Ex (Local Install):

anchor cms database information

Step 5e) Enter Site Information and click “Next Step”

Ex:

anchor cms site information

Step 5d) Create your account, and complete the install!

Anchor CMS Themes and Admin Panel

Anchor CMS is designed to be lightweight, so the “Default” theme packaged with Anchor CMS is very simple, but nicely designed. If you have some HTML and CSS knowledge, then you can easily create a pretty pimpin’ design out the “Default” skin. But if you’re not intereted in messing with the “Default theme” then you can just download some free themes from the forums.

Anchor CMS “Default” Theme (click to expand):

anchor cms default theme

Admin Panel Theme & Layout

The Admin panel is very nice. Not only does it look good, but the admin panel is also laid out very well and I think almost anyone could find their way around.

Anchor CMS Admin Panel:

anchor cms admin panel

 

Creating Posts, Pages, and Categories

There’s really not much to discuss in this section because it’s very straightforward. The way you write your post/page really doesn’t matter; you can write it in html or plain text. Also, the post, page, and category areas all contain a very simple, and almost distraction free layout.

Post Creation:

anchor cms post creation

Page Creation:

anchor cms page creation

Category Creation:

anchor cms create new category

The “Extend” area of Anchor CMS currently offers three things to mess with:

Custom Fields:  Allows you to add additional fields to posts and pages.

anchor cms create field

Site Variables:  Insert Metadata

anchor cms create new variable

Site Metadata:  Basic site information like title, description, comment settings, and theme choice.

anchor cms metadata

Plugins (Coming Soon).

I found the extend area to be mostly self-explanatory.

My only problem with this area, is that the custom fields page does not have explicit directions on how to call/display a field. There really should be an easily findable guide, or a link to directions for custom fields because even though Anchor CMS seems to be leaning more towards a crowd with some coding experience, there will be less-experienced people testing it out.

Also, searching for information about custom fields was a bit troublesome because the doc for “Custom Fields” leads to an incomplete page even though you can find custom fields information under the “Articles” doc. Besides the lack of information about custom fields, it is pretty easy to set them up.

I understand that the developers are most likely very busy with multiple projects, but basic documentation should be completed as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

While Anchor CMS is early in development, I can already see the huge potential behind it. Even though I’m used to WordPress and how robust it is, I can easily, or already have, fallen in love with the simplicity of Anchor CMS. My only complaint is that wiki/docs aren’t completely finished, and it took me a while to find information about “Custom Fields” … but that’s it and I’m sure they will be completed before too long.

So, if you’re looking for a simple blogging solution for your website then give Anchor CMS a try! I’ll definitely be using it for future projects that might not need something as big as WordPress.

What do you think about Anchor CMS?

About Me: I am a 23 year old male living near Nashville, TN. I graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Manag...

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