A file based CMS which uses industry standard HTML markup

Mara cms integrates conventional HTML files into a managed framework with cascading top or side menus, banners, footers or other dynamic content.

File based.
No SQL code injection.
No worries.
Direct-to-page editing.
See your changes instantly.
Familiar HTML markup.
No special syntax to learn.
Free to use with open source license. Support available.

Recently, there has been a surge of interest in file based Web content management systems. These differ from the mainstream products such as Joomla! or Wordpress, in that they do not store the webpages in an SQL database, but instead store them as disk files. The advantages conferred by this arrangement are greater speed, security and simplicity, plus portability - The transfer of a website from one hosting service to another of similar specification often involves no more than simply copying the files over.

What can I do with Mara cms, that might be useful to me? 

  • Build a website with modern features such as banners, cascading menus, contact forms, galleries, stylesheets, etc 
  • Do this without involving the security weaknesses of a database 
  • Do this without the labyrinthine complexity of a big box CMS 
  • Add or edit pages online, using only a standard browser 
  • Import existing legacy webpages into a more modern framework
  • Create portable websites, which are easily transferable between host servers  
  • Exercise your creativity, with almost unlimited control over what you put in your pages
  • Back up your site dependably (If you have the files on a disk... you have the website)

 Test drive available. Log in with guest. All functions available except save.

The majority of file-based CMS require that the files containing the webpage information are written in a special code known as markdown syntax. Thus, whilst significantly easier to set up than the database-backed variety of CMS, the importing of a website to these still requires a good deal of rewriting or data conversion. Mara cms, by contrast, uses the industry standard and very familiar HTML syntax. Thus with Mara cms, importing of existing static websites is very straightforward, and there is no need to spend additional time learning another unfamiliar syntax. If you understand HTML, you can use Mara cms effectively.

The provision of a very intuitive, wordprocessor-like online editor also makes Mara cms easy to use for persons who only wish to edit or add page text, without having to get involved in the technicalities. In view of these features, we think you will find Mara cms to be one of the best file-based CMS currently on offer, both for the beginner and the experienced Web content creator.

The storage of your webpages in conventional files is an instance of 'understandable technology' -You know where on disk your pages are stored, what format the information is in, and can examine, edit, copy or back them up as required, all with standard tools. This also makes the import of existing static sites very easy, in some cases merely copying the files over and adding menu items is all that is required. Packages of this file based type are sometimes known as a flatfile CMS, although that term does not necessarily indicate that all webpages have to be in the same folder/directory, rather it indicates the distinction from relational database storage.

Aimed at the Web professional building sites for commercial clients or the more experienced enthusiast, configuration is by direct editing of settings. Here, you won't find the endless pages of options and tickboxes present in mainstream database-backed CMS. What you will find is a concise set of config options which are easy to understand, and quick to set by way of straightforward text files. This makes for a small, fast core system whilst allowing great flexibility.

Page editing is done directly on the page, you see your text changes immediately without previewing

Pages may be created online with the integrated copy of CKEditor, or created locally and uploaded by FTP. This gives great flexibility to work in either traditional local data storage or centralised-storage environments. This also enables the commercial designer to permit controlled updating of the site by the client, thus saving on professional maintenance work. A rollback facility allows the webmaster to recover from mistakes made by self-updating clients.

PHP and javascript can be directly incorporated into both templates and pages, even if those pages are to be edited online.

Cascading menus and ajax make for an efficient site navigation experience with few page reloads. This is an area  we've spent a good deal of effort on, clear and fast navigation being critical to a positive visitor experience of any site. The design objective here is to provide a menu system which caters for almost all page-linking needs, which shows the visitor clearly their location in the site structure, and which avoid tedious repeated page reloads to get to a destination.

As on any well-prepared website, stylesheets and page text are separated, such that the webdesigner can make a full range of customizations to the site appearance without having to rewrite pages. Multiple, visitor-selectable themes (the equivalent of a template in mainstream CMS)  are possible, making for easy testing and demonstration of styling options to clients.

As far as possible we have used straightforward procedural code in writing Mara cms. We have used object oriented code in some places where it offered a clear advantage, but for the most part we have  kept to traditional coding methods on the basis that this keeps the system code lucid and easy to modify, should that be required for a specific application. Though if you prefer OOP and fancy writing an extension, then no problem because the plugin interface supports either coding style.

Contact form, protected against both spamming robots and address harvesting. Allows direct email if the visitor prefers that to a form

File-based storage also eliminates one of the major security issues of database-driven CMS, namely that if the coder omits to 'sanitize' user-entered data of SQL programming instructions in just one single place of the many such places in a major project, then the site is open to hacking.  When no database is involved, code injection hacks are quite simply not available to exploit.

The focus in Mara cms is on providing core functions which work well and provide a good browsing experience for the visitor, rather than on providing a large number of value-added functions. Since Mara cms pages can in any case include standard php or javascript code, this opens the way to incorporate any of a vast array of free applications into your site, without having to restrict yourself to those coded only for use within a specific CMS.

Direct download from our main site.

Sourceforge project.

Requires: Apache 2.x webserver with php5.2 or later.

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