Governor CMS is geared to developers
Governor’s CEO Travis McElroy said his platform is geared more to developers than the consumer market. PHOTO: The Old State

Cloud-based content management systems are becoming the tools of choice for many developers and agencies looking to scale their businesses.

But choosing the right kind of cloud can be a confusing task in and of itself.

With most Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings falling short in terms of flexibility, Governor is a cloud-based CMS that leans more towards being a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), empowering agencies with the freedom to build and customize in a cloud-hosted environment via their well documented API.

Governor: First Impressions

Built using a combination of Node.JS, AngularJS, MongoDB and Amazon’s Web Services, Governor was announced in 2015 by The Old State, a Dallas-based web design agency.

Governor leverages its own site rendering engine and templating engine to allow any developer to build scalable websites. Plus, Governor deploys a patented tagging system that enables developers to segment and tag site elements that they wish to manage from the Governor backend.

Thanks to Governor’s front-end agnostic nature, you can also upload existing websites to Governor’s digital ecosystem, no matter what technology they were built upon. Governor’s native tagging system then makes it easy for developers to segment, tag and manage those pre-built websites.

Oh, and did I mention that you can manage an unlimited amount of websites from just one Governor user account? Because you can.

With all that being said, it’s unsurprising that Governor’s CEO Travis McElroy noted that his platform is, “not really geared towards the consumer market” — although I’m sure the dev community won’t mind him pointing that out.

Now, without any further adieu, let’s see what Governor has to offer.

Getting Started With Governor

At the time of writing, Governor is nearing the end of its two-year beta thanks to a planned formal release of the cloud-based CMS in early 2017. Nevertheless, you can sign up for Governor’s free and paid plans as of right now.

After entering my name and email address on the sleek Governor website, I was whisked off to my new dashboard. From that dashboard, you can start a new site, or view previously created websites.

Governor cms - add a new site

When I clicked “Add New Site”, Governor asked me whether I wanted to upload an existing website, or start a totally new one. I opted for the latter.

Governor currently has just three themes to choose from, one of which is a developer’s starter theme that offers little more than the skeletal features of a template. However, there are eight other themes in the works, and I suspect we’ll see those active once Governor launches in 2017.  

Governor template

Nevertheless, I selected a template and moved on to my new website’s backend.

Governor: Core Features

As you might expect, Governor comfortably handles the basics of content management. Creating pages, blog posts and navigation menus is effortless.

governor ui

Governor also makes it easy to code your way to a better website without leaving the confines of your backend. The files for every page and post are directly accessible from their respective editors, making it quick and easy to apply coding changes on the fly.

Governor CSS

Speaking of code, Governor’s basic control tags are fairly simple to understand. They include gv-text, gv-textarea, gv-img, gv-link and gv-wysi. When it comes to layout management, tags like gv-content and gv-includes can be leveraged.

Governor screenshot

Other useful functions include image editing, blogging and revisions tracking for both pages and posts.

Governor permissions

Governor also boasts a user directory with permissions. This allows webmasters to assign user accounts to different members of their development team.

Governor has a free plan, which gives you access to a fair share of the benefits enjoyed by premium users. However, things like site pages, bandwidth and storage are limited.

Premium users enjoy exclusive benefits like custom domains, white labeling and the ability to export websites in order to host them elsewhere.

The cheapest plan starts at $30 a month if you pay annually, which seems steep for a plan that limits you to just 10GB of storage and 250GB of bandwidth.

The Verdict on Governor

Governor’s feature set is impressive and yet extremely easy to manage. The longer I used it, the more it grew on me

Despite presenting a few minor design flaws, Governor’s sleek user interface is a delight to use. It focuses on being as simple as possible, and it achieves that for the most part.

However, I wasn’t a fan of having to navigate to the "Modules" section to access the media manager, and I felt that some nested sidebar menus did more harm than good. Additionally, some pages had no visible back button, which was enough to stop me in my tracks once or twice.

But once I settled in, I found myself eager to get my hands dirty with code and customization, simply because Governor made it so easy to do.

Pros

  • Frontend framework agnosticism
  • The built-in code editor is easy to access and use
  • Governor’s unique tagging system is simple enough to grasp
  • Responsive live-chat support and a healthy level of documentation
  • Blogging functionality
  • A solid media manager with image editing features
  • User directory and permissions

Cons

  • The backend has a few minor design faults
  • Premium plans start quite high
  • The beta version isn’t carrying all the features highlighted by The Old State in its marketing material, although I’m hopeful that they will accompany the formal release of Governor.

I enjoyed tinkering with Governor, but I’m hoping the team over at The Old State are planning to incorporate their e-commerce and email marketing tools into Governor before its formal release in 2017.

Those features, alongside the module marketplace that they have discussed, would put Governor on the map.