By Deane Barker on July 15, 2011

Ruby CMS – Nesta: I like the idea of this CMS, and it’s virtually identical to something I built years ago in PHP that I called “Gonzo.”

Do you prefer writing and testing HTML and CSS in a text editor, rather than a browser window? Are you happy writing copy in Markdown or Textile? If so, Nesta might be for you.

There’s no database to configure – everything is stored in text files. You can review your changes on a local copy of your web site, and copy the files to your server when you’re ready to publish (most people use Git).

The idea is that your content is markdown files, and those are pre-processed before being sent out the door – inflated into HTML and wrapped in some sort of surround, in which you can use includes or other automation.  So, your developers work in the surround, and your content editors work in the Markdown files.

I think this is a nice system, and when I built Gonzo five years ago, it was great for simple little brochure sites.  However, when you get past 100 pages, you really need some level of content automation, and that means you need some system with an “overhead view” of all the content in the repository (whatever that is) which can process queries like “get me the last five news articles.”  And, as passé as that is these days, that pretty much means a database of some sort.

So, I love the idea of Nesta, so long as your expectations of its outer limits are realistic.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a “content management system.”  It strikes me that it’s more of a “templating system” (but I base this on 15 minutes of investigation, so I could be totally wrong).

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