How does Fuel differ from other CMS's

edited September 2011 in Share
Fuel is the first CMS I have used. I love the flexability, the easy integration of modules, just the whole way it works.

Given this is the only CMS I have used, however, how does it differ from others? How is it better, how is it worse? The 'big boys' seem to be Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, and to some extent now, Concrete5. Can these do things that Fuel doesn't, or vice versa?

Guess I'm wondering, if it comes to more involved projects, such as developing an ecommerce solution, do I need to look to one of these with one their off-the-shelf modules, or would it be just as worhtwhile to stick with Fuel and work at developing my own modules?

any thoughts appreciated,


  • edited 12:23PM
    I'll chime in with why we developed FUEL, however, this is a good question that I'd like to hear others answer. Below are the 3 main reasons we developed it:

    1. We like working with Codeigniter. Using a framework as our platform rather then a CMS gives us a greater layer of flexibility to make whatever the project calls for.
    2. We wanted the ability to really control the admin experience of our clients and provide them only the features they needed and not confuse them with terminology they may not be familiar with (e.g. plugins, modules, addons, mambots, etc). We stuck with "modules".
    3. Entering in website content by logging into an admin interface was not efficient for us, however was a necessity for clients. So we developed a way for them to do that, which would allow us to work alongside the framework and not take over it.

    That said, the big boys do have a much bigger community to draw upon as well as off-the-shelf modules. We are a very small shop that has to balance client work with developing FUEL and interacting with its community... however, we genuinely love doing it. I'm a big believer in that folks should choose what works best for them. We even suggest some of those CMS's in our FAQ as alternatives because we know it's not for everyone especially designers looking for an out of the box solution. However, we do know that its a right fit for us and hopefully a few others out there.

    Other folks please chime in for Tallowman to get a different perspective.
  • edited 12:23PM
    When I start a project I tend to go for WordPress if a need a general blog / CMS and then if the project is a little more bespoke I will go for CodeIgniter.

    Sometimes with a WordPress project it will be 90% CMS and 10% something that isn't included or there are no plugins for. For this I will create my own plugin.

    Then there is the other angle where the bespoke project needs some basic content e.g. about page, links etc.

    This is where I feel Fuel really shines. Having all the functionality of CI for the more complex pages is extremely useful and the client need never be involved in this pages. Or if they do need to somehow control these ages such as through adding items to a database it is made very simple through the admin modules.

    The modules also make it very quick to create the forms for users to enter and edit the data.

    As admin said the others have a larger user base, but I feel this is primarily down to the fact they have been around longer. If you look at Fuel in conjunction with CI then there is actually a vast amount of libraries and contributions as well as documentation.

    The only slightly negative thing I have felt so far is that the documentation is not as mature as I would hope. Although the speed and helpfulness of the admin in answering questions has meant that in a short space of time I have got really far in my first Fuel based project.

    As I become more knowledgable with Fuel I will be looking to add to the documentation myself, which is exactly how all the other open source projects have evolved into the successes that they are.

    I'm sure there will still be times where I use WordPress or a straight CI application, or possibly other frameworks, for projects but I already have two projects in mind that will be based in Fuel and I'm sure many more to follow.
  • edited 12:23PM
    Thanks for the feedback, and gives me some perspective on how I should be using a CMS/Framework, and in particular Fuel. Having only used Fuel, I guess there's the nag at the back of my head that I may be 'missing out' by not going for Wordpress, for example.

    I spent alot of time researching different CMS's before settling on Fuel, and the reason I went for Fuel was the link with Codeigniter, it just seemed to make intuitive sense to me.

    I'm only an average developer by any measure, but find putting new modules together in Fuel very easy and quick. I hope that over time I will have developed my own library of modules that would service most client's needs, or would need only small modifications.

    It might make more sense to use Wordpress for a simple blog etc, but to be honest, I find the whole process in Fuel simple enough. Although not to say I won't look at other options, I think there will always be a place for Fuel, and my first consideration will be 'Will this work in Fuel?'

    I guess I also like being involved in something that is only beginning. Hoepfully, and I'm sure I'm in tune with alot of people using Fuel, the project will only grow as will the user base, documentation, modules etc. In the meantime, the support from Admin is outstanding, and I've never been left wanting with any quesiton, no matter how daft.

  • edited 12:23PM
    I'm no WP expert by any stretch. Anyway I've used it for quite a few websites so far and while it can do the job for 'simple' projects (say, a business-card kind of site with a blog, some pages), it always fails for me as soon as you need to add more complex stuff. And I mean e-commerce, highly customized user interactions, you name it.
    For such cases, Fuel is the way to go. Even just because of the way WP treats storing data to the DB (dude, serialized arrays??)
    I've also done a couple of CodeIgnited websites from scratch too, and it was a great learning experience. But then I saw myself doing the same things over and over again (also because until then CI had no H in the MVC ... ) and I decided it was time to get something more high-level. So i did a little research and found out about FuelCMS.

    Anyway, before deciding on Fuel i checked PyroCMS as well, but I wasn't sold on its overly designed backend interface... I know it sounds stupid, but with Fuel I had an instant feeling of 'yeah i know where everything is, and what i need to do to achieve this and that'...

    Yes, the documentation is not perfect. Especially i think the JQX framework and the Advanced Module sections should be taken care of asap. And in fact, I'm planning to do a tutorial about customized Advanced Modules (based on my own findings, that is). The only thing keeping me from doing it (besides lack of time) is that I'm not sure I'm doing everything right - but that's also part of the beauty of Fuel - I was always able to find a solution to my needs and get the job done.

    Also, the admin of this forum is doing a great job answering questions over here. This place has been an invaluable learning resource for me.
  • edited 12:23PM
    Pierlo, if/when you start on that Tutorial, feel free to ask any questions and let us know so we can promote it for you. I think tutorials from forum members would be very insightful and may have a more valuable perspective. We are going to try and make a better effort on the blog to show different tips and tutorials on a more periodic basis.
  • edited 12:23PM
    Alright, I plan to start working on it around end of October - unfortunately i'm too busy until then - maybe before I start I'll actually write back and ask for suggestions in the forum and see what users really need, that might be a good idea.
  • edited 12:23PM
    I think it depends on how you look at it. If you look at it from a theming/content management perspective (i.e. creating a theme and setting it up to display content), they are all pretty similar in the approach so I don't think one is really better than another. But when you look at it from an application perspective I think that is where FUEL shines. I have developed many sites with WordPress/Drupal in these past several years and while they are great for getting a basic site up & running it's always been a challenge to manage the code throughout the life of the site; whether it's tweaking modules or changing the site behavior. The thing that makes FUEL stand-out is the ability to have the theming/content management features and also have the flexibility to build a typical CodeIgniter MVC app; although this benefit may not be as apparent if one is not familiar with the CodeIgniter framework. But the fact that I can rely on the robust CI framework which FUEL sits atop makes it that much more attractive & manageable in the long run without having to spend too much time digging into the unique architecture of the other CMS's.
  • edited 12:23PM
    @Pierlo - would love to see some more tutorials. Would love to get to the stage of being able to add some myself one day, but at the moment, answering the odd question on the forum is about my level. I also spend time wondering if I am doing things the right way, as some of my solutions seem a bit hacky. But I guess the more people share, the clearer it gets.

    Maybe you could put down a list of tutorials you would feel comfortable writing on the forum, and then people could respond with their preferred? If you want to take a democratic approach, of course :)

    @jlee - I guess I have been wondering how easy it is to build Codeigniter modules in Fuel vs the availability of plug-in modules for more popular platforms such as wordpress. It seems to me that they both have their place, as has been said here. It's useful to be handy with Wordpress if a quick blog site is needed, but also being able to turn to Fuel when something a bit more bespoke and custom is needed.
  • edited 12:23PM
    I haven't fully tested FuelCMS yet, but it's great news to know you can count on it.

    For example, I'm a web developer but I also work on VoIP area. I wanted to develop a non-intrusive web interface in order to manage users, groups, permissions, extensions etc. of a PBX system based on Asterisk. I have already programmed a CodeIgniter class that can connect to Asterisk via HTTP protocol so I can issue commands to Asterisk in a native way (through an interface it provides). Now, guess what? I can use FuelCMS (as it is CodeIgniter based) without changing anything. I just have to develop my own modules in my prefered PHP framework.

    Things keep getting better, because as FuelCMS is CI based, I can also use other Asterisk interfaces (AGI -Asterisk Gateway Interface-) through command line interface and interfact with the same DB used by it.

    Now we (developers) can provide full customizable, scalable and easy to use solutions to our clients, as we would not be making tweaks to a CMS that was not programmed thinking in developers.
  • edited October 2011
    I think i use fuelcms in a special way, in stead of using it as a publishing cms, I customize it as a internal portal/web app for my user , so most of time i playing around and submit patch for admin related issue.

    compare to other CMS which focus on publishing , I think fuelcms meet my need to do a lot of customization on the admin side, the layout might be the same but with 2~3 file a module can be build up quickly, that's why it become my choice.

    hopefully starting from this week I will kick start to write some experience on my blog , maybe the admin can have another stickie for all the user contribute tuts ?

    Oh beside I think project like this is good for the community
  • edited 12:23PM
    Here's another --

    I went through a substantial review and testing of various frameworks and cms's before decided to pursue this one. Yii, Kohana, Codeigniter II and a few more on the framework end. My goal, jump to modern and not get held down by compatibility with the past. Be in a position for this effort to survive the transition to php 6 and the next generation of databases, javascript, and css. Of the frameworks above, the only one where my testing found adequate, actually fully working cms's was Codeigniter II. It also helped that I had already used Codeigniter I and can understand the documentation.

    Fuel added the "somewhere between a framework and a cms" concept. Having the Administration already functional is worth its weight in gold. Being able to write my own modules and controllers, equally valuable. I'm finding that I use some things (Admin CRUD operations, Admin users and permissions, and ignore others -- but some of them I hold in reserve. In the latter category -- pages. I prefer to write my own views and don't generally use Fuel's pages -- but I know I will give at least one user an ability to add Fuel-generated pages.

    Are there things that could be improved? -- you bet -- documentation, esp. on creating advanced modules and controllers and more specific code examples. Plus, for my application, I'm going to have to add some concepts that don't currently exist (some variant of group membership for authorized users), but these aren't deal breakers. I'm also pondering how best to implement a flexible "widget" concept -- something similar to but not quite down the intent of "blocks". Undoubtedly, FuelCMS appeals to those of us who like to be hands on and in control!

    The other issue -- this is very young code. Young code has issues (bugs) and limitations while well established applications have gotten most of those handled. This is to be expected. The Admin here has shown remarkable commitment to making FuelCMS functional, and his level of commitment to responding to user questions/issues is outstanding.

    I'd also have to say, that of the frameworks and CMS's that I tested, Codeigniter II plus FuelCMS is the only modern, highly flexible, and fully functional combination that I found..I found a lot of stuff that wasn't ready for prime time, or even ready for the midnight shift. I think the FuelCMS developer is to be praised!
  • edited November 2011
    I'll start where ^ left off.

    Admin (David) and the Daylight guys commitment to this thing being a success is amazing. The support is always quick, well thought out and probably most important - correct. It's obvious the amount of knowledge Dave has in general and of his Fuel is great.

    Now I've recoiled my tongue. I quite literally could have chosen anything out there for our CMS. I tried loads, went through about a month - six weeks of installing, building testing etc and Fuel just hit my mark.

    I had been working with CI for a couple years so was biased to CI based cms but not essential. I tried EE but didn't like it. Perhaps I simply didn't understand it. Their support was near woeful as well.

    One of the main reasons Fuel won out for me was balance. Balance between ease and speed of development for me to put something together vs ease of use for a non-technical person to actually use the cms. It's true Fuel hasn't been around for as long as many other systems, it's code is young with some bugs and it's documentation is hmm light in some areas (wouldn't say it's bad).

    It also wasn't as fully featured as some of it's competition but sometimes having a million features is more pain than it's worth too.

    It's pretty easy to change areas of the cms if you're not happy with them meaning it's extensible. Good case in point for us is the asset management. We use CKFinder and whilst the asset management isn't bad in Fuel (look at the code, a lot of work as gone into it) it wasn't adequate and didn't meet the needs of the non-technical. CKFinder is easy to embed into the assets page and using the custom form fields type it's failry easy to rig up a button to fire it open.

    Just one example of an easy change to a pretty integral part of the cms. Others systems that would have been a nightmare to change if you could at all.

    We've been through a few changes/improvements etc. I think the only one left to keep my team happy is 'draft' pages. Not unpublished.
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