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What is concrete5?

Instead of offering technical details such as how to install concrete5, we focus on what the CMS actually is and how it can benefit you.

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When it comes to building a website WordPress, Joomla or Drupal are the first-choice for most developers. However, there are several other Content Management Systems out there as well which are equally good, if not (arguably) more capable. This article introduces you to one such CMS, namely, concrete5.

However, instead of offering technical details such as how to install concrete5, how to add or edit content and so on, I will be focusing more on what is concrete5 and how can it benefit your website. Technical details, obviously, can easily be found in the official documentation.


What is concrete5?

Released in 2008, concrete5 has today established itself as a respected name in the CMS world. In simple terms, concrete5 is a PHP-powered software that relies on the Model View Controller framework, with OOP forming the backbone.

Yet, in spite of being simple and nimble to the core, concrete5 is a powerful tool and can be used to build a wide variety of projects.


Modus Operandi

concrete5, unlike many other CMSs, does not rely entirely on abstraction and/or heavy coding. Instead, it follows a more judicious model and tries to strike a balance, thereby attempting to serve the needs of both the end users and the advanced audience.

The first thing that you’re going to notice about concrete5 is the front-end editing. In fact, if I may add, concrete5 has been offering front-end editing even before front-end was cool — the likes of WordPress and others have started riding the front end wagon only recently, whereas concrete5 was offering such features as early as 2012.

Working with concrete5 is super easy. Say, you wish to add content to your page? Just put the said page in Edit mode, and all the possible content areas for the given page will be highlighted. Click on the desired one, and select the required option from the pop-up menu, and you’re all set!

concrete5 treats content as ‘blocks‘. Thus, you add content blocks to your page in order to build or create the page. Need to add some text? Use the WYSIWYG editor for that block. Need a contact form? There is a form block too, and so on. Want a slider on your page? There is a block for that too! Need Google Maps? Yes, a block is included out of the box for that as well. How about embedding some YouTube videos? Of course, add a block, edit, and you’re done!

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Obviously, such a front end click-to-edit mechanism is something that end users can easily get a grip over. In fact, I have noticed that anyone who is totally unfamiliar with CMSs tends to learn concrete5 way more quickly as compared to say, WordPress or Drupal.

Surely, the click to select, click to add, and click to publish model may seem raw and half-cooked to the technically sound users; but clients with lesser technical skills and/or even lesser time fall in love with it!

If you are a designer or developer, designing themes or coding for concrete5 is pretty direct with not much rocket science involved. All you need to do is replace relevant tags within the HTML in order to add blocks, and so on. Since concrete5 uses the MVC architecture, you can easily override the core files, be it for the theme or blocks.

Furthermore, the concrete5 community is always ready to help. Even though it is still way smaller than that of many other CMSs, you will not find yourself lost if you are seeking support.

One noticeable drawback, however, is that concrete5’s selection of themes and addons is not as populated as it should ideally be. There are addons and themes available for most practical purposes, but the sheer number or quantity needs to be better.


Is it Sustainable?

Each time I talk about a different CMS to someone who uses either WordPress or Drupal, the first question that comes up is: “They surely aren’t making money since their user base is too small; so when are they shutting down?”

Well, concrete5 has been alive for 6 years by now, and by the looks of it, it seems to be doing pretty well for itself.

Unlike various other projects, concrete5 does have a business model and it seems to be sticking to it to the core. A good number of addons and themes are premium, which provides a steady flow of revenue for developers. Furthermore, concrete5 also has an Enterprise offering, that caters to the needs of enterprises.


If you are planning to get started with concrete5, yours truly has recently authored a book about it, that talks about developing themes for concrete5, as well as working with blocks, addons, permissions and workflows in concrete5.


Conclusion

Being very honest, many concrete5 developers and designers do find it difficult to generate heavy profits from concrete5 themes in marketplaces such as that of Envato. However, concrete5 themes do sell, much like Joomla! templates too sell, albeit not at a price as high as that of WordPress themes.

In any case, developing or building stuff for concrete5 can indeed be worth the time. Speaking for myself, this CMS is especially useful if you are developing a website for a corporate customer or client who will eventually need to manage their website all by themselves.

Do you have an experience with concrete5? If so, how did you find it? Share your views with us using the comments below!


Tuts+ have a concrete5 course available that dives deep into some of concrete5’s most useful features, such as advanced permissions, and will show you how to create a theme with all the standards in mind.


About the Author Sufyan bin Uzayr

Sufyan writes about web design and development, Content Management Systems, open source, and everything else in between. He blogs at Code Carbon, and you can find him on Facebook and Google+.