CouchCMS Review

CouchCMS is an open source content management system licensed under Common Public Attribution License Version 1.0 (CPAL-1.0) and is free for use in personal and commercial projects. It however has a commercial license too, where for $69 you get a lifetime license and 1 month premium support as well as the freedom to remove all hyperlink attributions to the developer’s website. The commercial license also allows you to rebrand it with your logo and copyright information. You can read the entire licensing information here – https://www.couchcms.com/products/

CouchCMS is an easy to use CMS and is designed to retrofit into any existing static website. Best part about using CouchCMS is that you do not need to be a PHP expert to be able to implement it on your website. Its easy to understand documentation (http://docs.couchcms.com/) describes in simple language the steps you need to take to convert your static website to a dynamic one using CouchCMS.

Why you need a dynamic website

The first question you may have is why would you want to convert your static website to a dynamic one. After all, if you had wanted a dynamic website in the first place, you would already be having one, right?

Well, sure! If you have had your static website for years and have not needed to make more than minor contact information or other small content changes in all this while, then probably CouchCMS is not for you.

But we all know the pain of needing to add or remove a page or two in our websites and then having to edit the menu codes in the dozen or so html files in our website offline and then uploading them online again. And if you have been thinking of adding more images to your portfolio, adding more services to your business, and maybe a blog or news updates page, or changing the layout of your website, probably making it more contemporary and responsive, then CouchCMS can be a handy tool for you to achieve all this.

Or, say, you already have a lovely looking website but the hard work, not to mention the amount of coding knowledge, required to convert that look into one that works on WordPress or other such popular content management systems is a bit too much, then CouchCMS can be a lifesaver for you. With just a few lines of its own templating code, CouchCMS gives you the power to convert your existing website template into a CouchCMS template or create a blog/portfolio section in your website.

Installing CouchCMS

CouchCMS takes upto 10MB in about a 1000 plus files. Compared to over 46MB and over 2000 files for WordPress this is a small footprint. And if you compare the number of plugins you will add to WordPress later to make it function more to your liking and the number of files a well designed powerful theme will add to your server, CouchCMS footprint reduces considerably more.

To install CouchCMS you need an Apache or compatible server, PHP 5.0.0 or greater and MySQL 4.1.2 or greater. It is not compatible with Microsoft Web IIS server. You can also install it on your local XAMPP or WAMP servers for testing, which is what I did.

My Test Environment:
Hardware – Macbook Pro mid2012, Quad Core Intel i7 processor, 8GB DDR3 RAM, 1TB Seagate Firecuda Solid State Hybrid Hard Drive, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1 GB, Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB.
Software – MAMP ver 5.2, PHP ver 7.2.10, MySQL ver 5.0.12

My biggest grouse with CouchCMS is that in spite of its ease of use, smaller footprint and the simple but effective admin panel to manage your dynamic content in the backend, it still uses a MySQL database for its operation. This, for me personally, is an overkill as I felt that the same could have been achieved with a flatfile system or at the most an SQLite database. The benefit of such a system is that you can move from one webhost to another easily as you just have to move the files and the site is functional immediately. There is no MySQL database to be exported from the old location and imported into the new location, thus removing one time consuming and complex step in managing your website. Also, some website hosting providers charge separately for a MySQL database which adds an extra annual cost to your website. And if you are managing a few static websites then this cost will rise for you exponentially as CouchCMS does not support multiple website management and you will one MySQL database per CouchCMS installation. However, even if your webhost provides you with multiple free MySQL databases in their package, this still means that many more databases to manage, backup and export if you want to shift from your webhosting provider.

That said, installing CouchCMS is a breeze.

Remove the ‘Powered by CouchCMS’ link from the footer.
The open-source license requires you to keep a legible and unobscured hyperlink back to www.couchcms.com on all pages rendered by the CMS. Also, it does not permit you to remove the CouchCMS logo and copyright information from the-admin panel. In case it is not acceptable by your clients to show the attribution link on their site or you wish to white-label (rebrand) the admin interface by placing your company’s logo and name, in place of ours (so as to make it seem to your clients that you are using your own custom CMS), you will need a commercial license.

The automatically injected footer link is just a gentle reminder with regards to the attribution requirement. You are absolutely free to turn it off if you wish to manually code the backlink or style it differently. Please edit the ‘couch/config.php’ file and set the following to ‘1’.
define( ‘K_REMOVE_FOOTER_LINK’, 0 );

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