I’ve been using CMS Made Simple for the past four years, starting from a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS but no PHP experience. I chose it initially because of its simple user interface that would make it easy for my clients to update their websites. Installing and setting up a basic site was relatively simple and as time went on, I learned how to incorporate and use third-party modules and make basic customizations to module templates. I could tell that there was nearly endless potential to expand the system but I lacked the know-how. I have worked with both Joomla! and WordPress and keep returning to CMS Made Simple because it just makes sense as a way to build a website.
This year, I took on some sites that forced me to delve further into this well-coded CMS and spent a lot of time digging through Sofia Haufschildt’s CMS Made Simple Beginners Guide, the CMSMS forum and various sources of documentation. My knowledge increased quickly but I still felt that I was only scratching the surface. And then Samuel Goldstein’s CMS Made Simple Development Cookbook was published by Packt. Although I was initially afraid the book might be too advanced, I was pleased to discover how quickly concepts I’d been struggling with began to make sense. After working through several of the ‘recipes’, I had a much better understanding of how to use Smarty code and the core modules.
Samuel is the author of Formbuilder, one of the most useful and flexible third-party modules available for CMS Made Simple and a favorite of mine. His book is as well-written as his code, clearly explaining the differences between tags, user-defined tags and modules and the best uses for each. Within just a few pages, the reader learns how to calculate math with the Smarty templating engine, create colour sets in stylesheets and use if-else conditions to hide content areas within templates. The book progresses through more complicated tasks, building on the foundation laid in the earlier recipes.
Each recipe begins with ‘Getting Ready’, explaining the necessary permissions and access requirements to accomplish the task. At first, these sections may appear repetitive but, like any good cookbook, they allow a reader to choose any recipe and begin without needing to look back to find the basics. After showing how to accomplish the task with clear code examples, the author then provides a detailed explanation of how the recipe works and the elements of Smarty that are utilized. In this way, the reader understands the ‘why and how’ of developing with CMS Made Simple and Smarty code and can apply that knowledge to solving other challenges. He wraps up with further ways to develop the recipe and cross-references to related recipes elsewhere in the book.
Samuel’s writing style is friendly and clear without unnecessary jargon. He is able to turn dry programming language into useful real-world examples. Of all the books on coding I’ve ever read, this is by far the best at helping a novice develop a strong knowledge base and instilling a sense of confidence. The CMS Made Simple Development Cookbook will help further the adoption of CMS Made Simple as a CMS of choice, allowing experienced website builders to create complex sites that remain simple for end users.