MeshCMS: lightweight Java cms

Let’s get it straight: Most of the time, I hate dealing with content management systems in my professional environment, as so far I haven’t found the right solution to that: Either they don’t team up that well with the rest of our (Java / tomcat based) environment (there’s a vast load of rather powerful PHP based content management solutions out there…) and/or take ages to get set up and started with and/or are seemingly way too “heavy” to carry a few simple pages just for the sake of having an easily accessible management / editing facility. The last thing on that I did so far was installing OpenCMS (astoundingly powerful, for sure), which I quickly and quietly discarded in favor of a simple, “home-grown” solution based on Spring, servlets and JSPs. Though this works reasonably well, it always tends to be tedious once these sites are supposed to be maintained, content needs to be added, things want to be changed, … . So, starting the search all over again.

However, for now I am pretty sure to have found a solution that could end this search – MeshCMS definitely is the best Java based content management solution I have tried so far. The list of features is pretty close to what I need/want:

  • Installation is as easy as dumping meshcms.war to tomcats webapp folder and let things happen.
  • MeshCMS is fully file-based, allowing for editing content (located by then in sub-folders in webapps/meshcms/), inserting images, … using arbitrary file-editing tools, as well as eliminating the need to throw in an RDBMS server (usually that’s not an issue given free options like postgresql, but in some cases the effort of setting up, maintaining, backing up the DB is just not worth it).
  • Theme creation surely is a breeze: On one side, talking about the theme content this is way less “rocket science” compared to other CMS and something easily done by anyone who knows how to deal with JSPs and CSS. On the other side, the structure itself is rather simple and easy to be maintained – create a subfolder in themes, dump your files there and you’re done.
  • The administration environment, file manager and friends are lean, reasonably fast and usable without having to deal with a learning curve too steep – a perfect system for any situation in which you’d like lesser experienced users to deal with content of your site.

Overally, diving into it and moving our current web sites theme there took me less than five minutes. Let’s see how the next steps will look like…