Kcits.com has been using Mura for years since the name was originally Sava. Mura had been an open source Coldfusion web CMS for a long time. BlueRiver/Mura decided to close their open source and go with a licensing plan. This originally forced the Kcits.com website to look for alternative CMSs. This is the journey that was taken and what was learned through the process.
First lets start with the huge elephant in the room of CMSs. By far the most popular CMS is Wordpress. Admittedly, Wordpress is easy to install, fast to get up and running and nearly any hosting company will host a Wordpress site. This is where things start to go south. There are so many themes, so many plugins, so many of everything that you no longer become a slave to Wordpress, you become a slave to the themes and plugins you install. Often times your eyes (needs) exceed your your future support and functionality. As a simple test 3 themes were picked by needs, wants, and "cool" factor. The firs theme was installed and about 10 pages of content were created. Everything was good, functional, and looked good. The next step was to pretend that over time a new theme would be needed or a new look would be nice. The second theme was installed and applied. Every page had to be touched and updated to meet the requirements of the theme to look good. Also, the "summary" and "associated" images all had to be redone. With 10 pages, this wasn't too bad, but if the site had been 100's or 1,000s of pages, this would be extremely time consuming. Finally the third theme was applied. Again, every piece of content had to be touched and updated. This theme had a few extra steps compared to the others. Again, considering a website that had 100s or 1,000s of pages this would be a very tedious update. Just as a last test, the theme was switched back to the first theme. Surprisingly, again the content had to be fixed. This was a lengthy test to realize that if you stay with Wordpress core and don't install any themes or plugins, you will have a great experience and never have to worry about your website breaking. But that would be exceptionally boring.
Pico was an attempt to try something completely different. Pico is a flat file system. The possibilities seemed to be bright. The positives were that a flat file system runs a lot faster than most dynamic CMSs. Pico, or any flat file system, is fist installed locally on the computer. You use a code editor and write code, but this code is YAML. YAML is a little different and though powerful, has been known to confuse and get people. All of this was not the issue and honestly what ever happened, Pico went belly up on the computer it was installed on. This was the first lesson learned with flat file systems. Having the ability to work on the website on multiple computers or devices is not easily possible with a flat file system. Instead of spending a number of hours trying to fix Pico, the next CMS was tested. Honestly Pico seemed great, when it was working and the flat file pages were deployed, the site was great.
Hugo is another flat file CMS and was found to be a little better than Pico. After the install, some setup, design, and implementation Hugo was successful for some time. When trying to take the next step and grow into the 40+ pages, that is when things started to get a little dicey. Moving from one structure to another or moving a lot of content from one section to another started to cause issues. Being a manual process and a flat file system, moving things was a manual process not a dynamic one. This also drove the point home that the dynamic things provided by Mura were not easily available. Though flat file systems are truly great at what they do, a dynamic CMS was eventually needed.
Grav was the best of both worlds. It took the flat file system and made it dynamic with the admin on the website instead of the local computer. The speed of the flat files and the dynamic capabilities of being web based instead of local and singular, what could possibly go wrong? When it comes down to it, nothing really. It was a great system, it ran smoothly, themes and plugins were easily added and updated, and content could be added where ever there was an internet connection. Grav by far was the best CMS after Mura. It comes in second for 2 reasons. (1) a number of the plugins had to be added to the system though they were maintained by the core Grav team (2) customization was not nearly as easy as Mura. This second one I can understand not being an issue for some. If you are used to PHP over Coldfusion, then I can understand where people would say Grav is easier. Finally the reason for leaving Grav; updates and hosting issues. Because Grav uses PHP, and a few things have to be in place and running on the Hosting servers, this caused a few issues down the road, and eventually these issues compiled upon themselves and made the experience unbearable. Again, others might find that they don't have these issues and that is perfectly ok. If you don't have any hosting, file permissions, plugins, and updates issues, then I highly recommend Grav. Having so many little issues eventuality broke the hosting of Grav's back.
Typo3 was the CMS to love, but due to never being able to really connect with it (getting the darn thing working) it left you feeling like one of those relationships that just never connects or it is not the right time. Typo3 looked to meet all the needs, though it was not Coldfusion based. Initially setup was easy and to the point, but after setup everything went south. I can't blame Typo3, but as hosting and configuration became the issue it was short lived. Unfortunately do to an overwhelming number of issues and already leaving these same issues from Grav, not a lot of time was given to Typo3. If a dedicated or VPS server was used, and more freedom of options were used, then maybe Typo3 could have been a viable option.
In an attempt to get away from all the previous complications Textpattern rose to the top when looking for a simple CMS. Textpattern is very simple. Setup went smoothly, updates went smoothly, sot the cut down simplicity of the bare bones needs for a website; Textpatter just worked. Learning to live without all the options available in a Mura setup took a little bit of time. Sometimes simple is better, right? If you want a simple to the point website, Textpattern is the way to go. This is where Kcits and Textpattern started to part ways. The final nails in the coffin was when attempting to apply a basic Bootstrap CSS file to Textpattern. Things did not go well, and eventually the attempt to try to shoehorn Textpattern and Bootstrap together was abandoned. Frustrated with how things were, the wait started in looking for a web CMS replacement. The next CMS was not what was expected, but just like life, everything comes back around.
Masa is Mura, Mura is Masa, no wait, Masa is the old Mura 7.0 version, right before BlueRiver closed their software. This was great news. Kcits has been using Mura for years and had tons of experience with Mura 7.x. Masa would put us right back where we left a year and a half ago. Everything would be familiar and it would meet all of the website's needs in one simple package. The best thing was that it was free compared to Mura. Having a lot experience with Mura, setup to Mas was quick and painless, but then the same issues encountered with Grav and Typo3 started to pop up. Come to find out, some of the changes made from Mura to Masa changed the core requirements for server and Coldfusion settings in a shared environment. Eventually these were worked out and Kcits was up and running on Masa. Again, everything was in the core, content management was easy and to the point. Things were familiar, too familiar. Mura 10 had already been out for a few years and Masa was still that old version. There is also the transition time where Masa is having to convert all the Mura to Masa and things started to go a little sideways for a bit. The developers of Masa are a different group from the original Mura developers and it is take a little bit of time to transition. With all that, happiness could be had sticking with Masa. Though the bigger fish is out there, Mura 10.
If your stars align, the price is right, and you can get yourself a Mura 10 install, then don't go anywhere else! Kcits has the opportunity to run Mura 10 and things couldn't be better. Mura 10 is an easy to use drag drop functionality with all the bells and whistles. It is modern, a single Bootstrap CSS file can be added/changed for the theme, and all of the issues previously experienced with the prior CMSs went away. Custom modules were easily developed (Lonely Mountain Map). This module was originally built in Masa but had a number of issues and was not fully functional. In Mura 10, those issues were overcome. Mura is a professional Web CMS, it does or can do anything that is needed of a website.
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