Why People Love Josh Clark

By Deane Barker on November 21, 2006

People love Josh Clark. He wrote the Big Medium CMS (AMS?), and we did an interview with him a while back. Read the comments on that post — as I said, people love Josh Clark like Germans love David Hasslehoff. And here’s a page that may demonstrate why:

Is Big Medium Right for Me?

[CMSs] vary widely in price, features, ease of use and technical depth. Alas, in this sea of choices, there’s no single system that can solve every need.

Big Medium is no different. This page describes what Big Medium is good at, what it’s not so good at, and provides links to alternative products for comparison.

This may not seem like much, but, in this page, Josh explains a multitude of reasons why you shouldn’t use Big Medium. Provided you’re still reading at the bottom, then I suppose you’re a customer.

This page is commendable as all get-out. Too many commercial products try to pretend they’re something they’re not, and that they can be all things to all people. Big Medium, on the other hand, seems to be all about knowing your limitations. How many other commercial software packages have you seen with a “marketing” page like this?

Here are some scenarios for which Josh freely admits Big Medium isn’t the right solution, and then he goes on to recommend better ones:

  • “I don’t know a thing about websites, and I don’t have access to a web server.”
  • “My site needs to allow visitors to add and submit content.”
  • “I want an engine to build my own content management system.”
  • “I just want a blog.”

I disagree on that last one. Josh seems ready to send people to Movable Type or WordPress, but I think Big Medium is really well-suited to a blog, and the state of Josh’s own blog proves it.

Speaking of the blog, a lot of the value of Big Medium can be wrapped up in this post:

Jeff Croft links to Ellington, a new content management system that he helped to create for newspapers and entertainment sites. The price tag is $15,000 for news sites, and $10,000 for entertainment sites. Compare to Big Medium at $129.

Software pricing is a strange and mysterious universe. Jeff is a great designer, Django is a capable platform, and Ellington certainly has more features than Big Medium. But wow… do you think over 100 times as many?


What This Links To
What Links Here


  1. “Alas, in this sea of choices, there?s no single system that can solve every need.”

    Actually there IS. It’s called Typo3, it is open-source, it has a clear. multi-year development roadmap, it’s scalable, it’s commited to security (in contrast for example to Joomla!/Mambo). I am using it for 4 years now and I literally found NO task so far which it could not solve with ease.

  2. Actually there IS.

    No there isn’t. Not in a million years. I don’t want to get into a rock-throwing fight, but to say Typo3 doesn’t have any shortcomings is ridiculous. To say any system does everything is ridiculous.

    Even my beloved eZ publish has shortcomings:

    • It’s complex. When you have a genuine problem, they can take a while to debug.
    • It’s overkill for a lot of things.
    • At it’s defaults, it’s not very user-focused.
    • It can do anything, but it’s not set-up out of the box to do any one thing well.
    • The learning curve is very steep.

    Consider your platform down every possible angle, including simplicity, ease of installation, and suitability for the exact problem you’re trying to solve.

  3. I didn’t meant to say Typo3 has no shortcomings. Probably its steep learning curve is the biggest shortcoming. But believe me this: I am working with CMS well since before the majority knew what the abbreviation means, and I came accross no task in professional webpublishing which could not be solved in Typo3.

    So excuse the superlativ – I’m usually cautious with them anyways – but Typo3 comes as close to a perfect CMS as anything I’ve seen so far. But it comes with a price, and that price is the users dedication.

  4. But hard to use is a HUGE shortcoming. It’s like trying to get a drink out of a firehose.

    I setup an install of Typo3 at a charity I help at and they quickly asked me to change it to something else because it was just too confusing for them to pick it up.

  5. It’s not exactly hard to use. It’s DIFFERENT to use. And you have to differntiate between the editor and the administrator. I even made people from our Sales department(!) to become editors for a Typo3 installation, and they managed without problems. Setting up and administering the system is where the steep learning curve and the dedication comes in.

    But – yes – if there is one major disadvantage then it is the initial learning stage for setup, configuration and template-development. And this is only necessary if you don’t use out-of-the-box templates.

    Funny you mention a charity: the graphics designer(!) in my department has recently set up Typo3 for a charity as well. Of course she had some background due to our work with Typo3 (she was in it since the beginning, yet not from an administrative side).

    OK, I don’t want to become a crusader like the Joomla! folks usually are (see http://www.technozid.de/2006/08/27/sick-of-crusading-joomla-advocates-trying-to-silence-criticism/ ) so let’s just leave it with that? I know Typo3 is not for everybody, and the selection of CMS depends on the task at hand (after all I use WordPress for my blog and not Typo3). I like Typo3, think it’s the best I’ve ever seen. Others have their preferences. It’s good that we HAVE a choice, and I think the CMS community as a whole benefits from the development of each system and the fresh ideas this brings in.


  6. P.S. While I DID like Knight Rider (I was a teenager when it aired in Germany) I never much cared for David Hasslehoff. And he was ill-advised starting a singing “career”. A better contemporary example would be the singer/songwriter Anastacia, who is wildly popular in Germany but – as dar as I know – not very well known in the US.

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