What is SilverStripe CMS?

SilverStripe is a Content Management System (CMS) which makes it simple to create and update content on your website. Using SilverStripe’s intuitive user interface, you can create pages, select layouts, manage media files, and perform a wide range administrative tasks, all without needing to touch code.

SilverStripe CMS user interface
SilverStripe CMS user interface

As well as being simple for content editors, SilverStripe CMS is backed by a robust web development toolkit, SilverStripe Framework. This enables developers to fine tune page templates, integrate with third party services, and build advanced custom features. For example:

  • Private members areas
  • Data driven interactive maps
  • Public and private APIs

Custom built features are easily integrated back into the CMS, allowing content editors and site administrators to manage them in a familiar way.

Choosing the right solution

SilverStripe CMS strikes a great balance between being easy to use for content editors and being highly extensible for developers. Here are some of the pros and cons to keep in mind when considering SilverStripe CMS for your next project.

Pros

Simple content management and administration

SilverStripe’s user interface is easy to learn and provides a great range of content creation and administration tools.

Rich text editor

SilverStripe offers a familiar editor interface, similar to popular document editing software such as Microsoft Word. Content editors can create and position text, links, lists, headings, insert images, YouTube videos, and much more.

The out-of-the-box editor is also highly extensible. Supporting macrons, inserting maps, and just about anything else you can dream up.

Media library

Your website’s assets – images, documents, PDFs etc – are managed using SilverStripe’s media library. You can arrange assets into custom folder structures, make folders public or private, and keep track of file history.

User management

SilverStripe’s security interface allows administrators to manage CMS access. Administrators can create users, assign users to groups, and control which areas of the CMS users and groups can access.

Flexibility

If you require more functionality than what is provided out-of-the-box by SilverStripe CMS, the underlying development framework can be used to create whatever you need. This could be anything from a simple contact form through to a complex multi-user web application.

Well supported and maintained

SilverStripe CMS is developed by SilverStripe Ltd and is the official web platform for New Zealand Government. The product is actively developed and undergoes rigorous security testing with each release.

No vendor lock-in

SilverStripe CMS is developed under the BSD licence and has no licencing fees. There are hundreds of developers and agencies worldwide developing SilverStripe solutions, so you have plenty to choose from.

Cons

Expert support

Unlike managed solutions such as Squarespace and Wix, SilverStripe CMS is a self managed solution. This means you can’t simply sign up for an account and start creating content.

You will need the support of developer who is comfortable with technologies including PHP, SQL, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Your developer is also responsible for deploying code changes, including security updates.

In addition to development support, design support may also be required. SilverStripe CMS does not have a large theme ecosystem like WordPress does.

Hosting

Compared with a static site or a managed solution, hosting is more complex. This is a trade-off for the added flexibility SilverStripe CMS provides over other solutions. When hosting a SilverStripe website, you have a couple of options.

Self hosting

Self hosting means creating an account with a hosting provider, provisioning a web server and database, and managing your own deployments and services. If you have some in-house expertise or there are business rules which require you to host services on specific infrastructure, this might be the right option for you.

Managed hosting

SilverStripe Ltd offer a managed hosting solution called SilverStripe Platform. The main advantage of using managed hosting is provisioning, patching, and monitoring of services is taken care of. The process of deploying your website is also much easier, you can use a simple web interface.

Managed hosting is more expensive than self hosting, but there is much less technical overhead.

Conclusion

SilverStripe CMS is well suited for medium to large sites which require advanced content management, a unique look and feel, and customised functionality.

The multi-user editing and content workflow features are great for teams of editors who are based in different geographical locations. And the flexible permissions model allows different groups of users to access different parts of the CMS and restrict certain actions. Versioning and page history allow for content auditing too.

The underlying development framework provides developers with all the tools they need to create customised functionality, which can be integrated back into the CMS for easy management.

Further reading