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Principles

Mara is a small content management system aimed at the creation of informational websites. Unlike the mainstream offerings no database is used, the information structure being very like that of a static website comprised of HTML files.  Features include live page editing, media previews without uploading, video streaming, galleries, etc.  A php-capable hosting account is needed, and the vast majority of Web hosting providers will be suitable.  Mara is not a 'Site Builder' nor is it a 'Cloud' service. Unlike such products, Mara is not restricted to any predetermined content collections, nor does it require that a subscription be paid to us.  The downloadable version is the full product, unrestricted. You can optionally pay us for support, but are not under any obligation to do so.

Targeted audience

Mara is aimed at a specific sector of the Web. That is, small business and private informational sites. It's all too easy to be a jack of all trades.. and end up being a master of none. We feel that many of the mainstream products suffer this issue. In trying to cover every possible usage, they become bloated and inefficient. Therefore we try to stay within our own remit when adding features.

Oh, and whilst Mara does have a blog mode, Mara is not a blogging platform. Informational websites are Mara's native role, and the feature set is based around that role. Using a tool designed for the job in hand, does make the job easier.

File based, Literally

The key principle behind Mara CMS is that webpages are exactly that, no more, no less - Files on a disk. Just as they would be on a static website.

The structure of these files is much the same as you would find on a typical static website. Thus, if you understand how that works -and it's not a difficult principle to grasp-  then you hit the ground running. No special markup languages to learn. No dozens of tickbox-laden forms to fill in. No database query syntax to master.

It also follows that if you want to include any webpages you already have into a Mara site, that's going to be one heck of a lot easier than with database-driven products.

Fast

Speed of page loading is important in terms of grabbing a visitor's attention. Bear in mind that many visits will be from searchengine hits, and if a a visitor doesn't see a response within a few seconds they will just cancel and try the next link. With the bloated mainstream products you will likely need to resort to caching in order to achieve adequate speed. That carries problems of its own, because cached data is a headache when doing edits. With Mara it's unlikely you will need caching, so that's one more webmaster's headache eliminated.

User friendly

Whether you're a professional building sites for clients, or a private user maintaining your own special interest website, you probably want to have an easy way to add content to pages. Mara includes CKEditor, arguably the world's best in-browser content editor. Most kinds of content can be added by simple drag and drop actions from your file explorer, making page editing a breeze even for those with no HTML knowledge.

A new feature allows for in-browser previewing of page layouts without having to upload media to the webserver. This, we feel, is a star feature. We've been using it to create content inhouse, and it really saves a huge amount of time and effort over more traditional ways of working. Try a layout, decide you don't like it.. change it as much as you like.. then when you're ready upload the whole lot, graphics and text, in one go.

Searchengine friendly

Though use of real URLs instead of 'parameters' we avoid the common problems faced by searchengine spiders visiting other CMS site.  Basically if your pages are well constructed and have relevant content, that's all you need to worry about in this respect.

Infinitely expandable

Because we work to the industry standards, adding features to your Mara website is very straightforward. You don't need plugins written for a specific platform. Just use any software or utilities written to the common browser standards. 

Then again, if you want to create your own extensions, that's no more difficult than writing Javascript or CSS for a simple webpage.

Modern

Many CMS are still using the old XHTML 4 standard. We are using HTML5. A key advantage, apart from the extra power of the markup, is that HTML5 is remarkably straightforward and easy to understand.

As required for all modern websites, layouts can be created which cater for sizes of screen ranging from a small 400px phone to a 28" monster. In fact, much of this responsiveness is built into the theme system, so you only need worry about the content you provide being suitable for a responsive site. Menus, borders, etc the system handles.

Secure by design

The greatest worry for all CMS users is that of having your site's security breached. Even when regularly patched, many of the database-driven products still get hacked regardless. We believe that IT systems should be secure by design, not sort-of-secure through gaffertape solutions. The principal requirement here is to stop using those components which give rise to the majority of security breaches. So, that's what we've done.

Elimination of SQL databases removes the single greatest security problem on the Web - code injection. Use of real URLs for pages -they are actual files, after all- also greatly reduces the risk of cross-site scripting or directory traversals. If the URL is wrong, the page won't load. Simple as that.

As standard, passwords are never sent over the Internet in plaintext. Thus, logins are reasonably secure even on basic unencrypted webspace. However you'll be pleased to know that Mara is fully HTTPS compatible. In fact, unlike some other products there is no need for any configuration changes to allow secure communication. On a host which supports encryption, just change the URL from HTTP to HTTPS... and everything still works!

Recoverable

Only a huckster would claim that a given IT system will never go wrong. So, we won't. More important is that disaster recovery should be possible. Being a completely file based system, if you have a backup of the files, you have that covered. For smaller issues such as editing mistakes, the versioning and rollback feature stores up to ten edits.