Utilizing a web content management platform that runs off of a flat file structure (e.g. doesn't require a relational database back-end) is an alluring thought. Mostly to us cheap baskets who would rather not pay premium money to hosting providers for database usage.
However, the consensus seems to be that such structures are inadequate for sites of any great size, and lack inherent stability. They make a good pet project for hacker-types who are determined enough to make them work, but are of limited use in the deployment of commercial-scale websites.
Nonetheless, they do indeed exist and WebAPP is one of the most popular examples.
WebAPP stands for Web Automated Perl Portal, and requires only Unix hosting and a Perl environment to run.
Installation, claims WebAPP, is easy and accessible for even the greenest webmaster.
Once you're up and running, you can dive straight in to the package's features which (for the Network Edition) include:
* Articles archive, unlimited categories
* Forum, with unlimited categories and nested message boards
* Private Messaging, offering folder management and flexible user filing
* Who's Online, with quick links to IM and Profile info
* Memberlist, sortable with links to IM, Profile and Email
* Download and Link sections, with descriptions, list of latest entries and user rating
* Stats, offering extensive details regarding site and user demographics
* Site Administration, offering browser-based admin control of most site functions
* About, Contact and Help pages, fully integrated and easily customized
* Custom Welcome messages for both guests and registered members.
* Additional editable areas called Blocks can be created (or mothballed) as needed.
* Site security and HTML protocol compatibility.
That's an impressive list of features by any standards, and yet many of us will remain sceptical. Web-APP.net is right there in all its glory. It's running forums, member lists, searches, and content management (presumably) without a database hidden away in the back.
And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I still want to hold onto my DB (and pay more). Have I been brainwashed? Pottering around Web-APP.net, I get the feeling that I'm not wanted here.
I'm one of Them, one of the despised MySQL Brahmin. A member of the blinkered LAMP/WAMP cartel, infiltrating the wild flat-file frontier.
My email queries go unanswered. My forum requests are ignored. At Web-APP.net, the man from CMSWire is a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest.
WebAPP 1.0 SE (self-extracting on to the server, with InstallShield and error detecting scripts) is available to download straightaway from web-app.net.
Yet I can't bring myself to do it.
I have seen what looks like full web functionality in action, with no database employed, yet was it a dream? Could we all be that wrong?
Like Agent Mulder, I want to believe. But somehow I just don't - yet.