My review on Composr CMS

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Composr CMS is a Content Management System software for people who are looking for a system to run a website from, but do not have the expertise to code their own system. Composr CMS is feature-rich, open source, and free (as in freedom). Out of the box, the system includes many features, such as forums, galleries, member accounts and profiles, points and rewards system, ecommerce, downloads, Wikis, news/blogs, calendars/events, catalogues (forms), and a ton more.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

One of the biggest things I like about Composr CMS is the developer dedication; the result of this dedication includes a short bug backlog... a CMS where all features, including addons, are code inspected by the developers and ensured that they integrate securely and intuitively... and a CMS which passes strict web, security, and accessibility standards.

Composr has many features out of the box which can be enabled or disabled. So you can make a huge variety of different websites with the system. It also has a lot of (but not way too many) options, permission settings, and so on so you can fine-grain Composr.

The system is also very developer friendly. There are a ton of documentation on the website maintained by the developers themselves on how the system and its framework works. There is also an API guide to all the functions used in the CMS. But what really takes the cake is how the structure of this CMS is set up. In addition to your usual folders containing the files/scripts for the system, Composr is also divided into "_custom" folders. This allows developers to modify core files of Composr and save them in these _custom folders so the originals are in tact. This makes upgrades much easier to do (you can just use a diff tool) and enables for more advanced functionality. When a script or file is saved in a _custom folder, it is automatically loaded in Composr CMS as an override. In addition to _custom folders, Composr also has "miniblocks" and "minimodules", allowing beginner developers to add functionality to Composr without being forced to conform to the structure and framework of the CMS (I still recommend conforming because it's more secure and enables more functionality).

Composr has aggressive hack attack prevention capabilities to block out malicious URL calls and activity on the Composr website, complete with automatic IP banning and email notifications. Its spam capabilities are also fairly decent, but could be improved (which they will in the next major version [11]).

Composr has many smart caches as well to boost website performance and lower resource usage. It can also integrate with PHP cache engines such as memcached and APC.

Now, as promised I will provide some of the drawbacks with Composr CMS. The first is that Composr does not conform to the modern-day website fads of using Bootstrap nor lots of pretty Javascript / Jquery animations. As a result, the appearance may look dated in the system, and the functionality may not be as intuitive as some more-modern systems. They are, however, working on a more modern default theme and appearance and some UX improvements for version 11, but they will still continue to shy away from using things like Bootstrap (except they might use parts, but not the entire, framework).

Another drawback that results from the above is that Composr does not have powerful inline editing capabilities. They have a little bit, but not nearly as much as other systems. Editing pages and content is mainly done through editing screens with a WYSIWYG or source code input field.

Since Composr CMS is very unknown in the web world, the community is small, but passionate. Composr doesn't have that many addons available for its system (but then again doesn't really need addons to the extent systems such as Wordpress and Drupal do). But the developers are very dedicated to answering questions and concerns you might have.

Composr CMS is also, in my opinion, not ideal for beginning website administrators. It's a pretty powerful system with a lot of customization options and features... and that can overwhelm those new to the web hosting world. Not saying new admins cannot use the system, but it may be a bit of a learning curve for them.

Composr CMS may be free and open source, but it is commercially backed. This means do not expect to have ocProducts install the software for you and set it up for free. Also don't expect any free new features or free theme designing etc. ocProducts makes the necessary money it needs to operate through offering paid services, such as website development, installation and upgrade services, and new feature sponsorships. But, the plus side to a commercially backed system is that the developers are more dedicated and less likely to randomly drop off the face of the planet, since they get income for doing what they do.

All in all, I think Composr CMS is a very promising system, especially since it contains a lot of features out of the box and free, as well as some developmental features you'd expect in high-priced enterprise systems (such as sub-site capabilities). It does need to improve its UI and UX a bit, which we've been doing a lot of surveying on in order to do, and it does look a little out of date compared to what you might expect websites to look like in this day and age. But it is a very solid multi-use system.

How long have I used Composr CMS?: 6 years (5 of those years was when it was ocPortal).
Would I recommend Composr CMS: Absolutely! But not so much to new website administrators.

The author of this review, xanaftp own the website,