Osmek, A Hosted Web CMS To Take On Squarespace

5 minute read
Jason Campbell avatar

Welcome Osmek, A Hosted Web CMS with a Twist
I have given up trying to figure out if there is a limit to the number of products that can co-exist in the hosted web cms landscape. Just when you think the category is saturated, along comes an offering like Osmek looking to differentiate itself from the myriad of competitors.

What's an "Osmek"?

Osmek is the brainchild of Matthew McCloskey, founder and Principal at Kemso, LLC, and is a web-based content management system that leverages the cloud for content storage.

If you are thinking: "That's original. I liked this product better the first time I saw it when it was called Wordpress.com", hang on just a second. Osmek does provide a web-based content entry and content management interface, but unlike Wordpress.com or Drupal Gardens, you are not locked into a specific theming pattern.

OK, So How is Osmek Different?

Osmek supports the ability for all the content that is entered via the content entry interface to be published in one of four formats (JSON, XML, HTML, or Serialized PHP) or developers can leverage built-in template responses.

In other words, users can enter content via http://cms.osmek.com and then a developer can build a site that "pulls" that content down from the cloud and displays it according to the users' specifications.

The content is made available to the end-user version of the site via the Osmek API. This API is language neutral and can be accessed from across the internet. Currently, there is a client-side library for interacting with the API available in PHP. Libraries in other languages will be arriving soon.

If you are thinking: "Wait a minute, that sounds like a publishing system", then you would be correct. Albeit an extremely lightweight publishing system.

How Does Osmek Work?

The foundation of content management within Osmek is the usage of section modules. For each "section" that is created, content creators can choose from 10 section templates:


And there's more. After a content creator sets up the necessary section modules, said modules can then be extended using Osmek's system wide core functionality:

  • Comments: converts a Multi Entry section module into a blog;
  • Subscriber: allows content to be shared;
  • Tags: organizes content by keyword;
  • Flag: adds another level of content classification beyond just tags;
  • File: allows files of any format to be attached to any item in a section;
  • Image: allows images of any format to be attached to any item in a section;
  • Custom fields: create a field above and beyond what is provided by the section;
  • Media Vault: file and images uploaded to an account are stored here.

Now that you know what tools are available, here are a few examples of how to use those tools:


Home Page


Add a Blog Entry


Example of Core Functionality


Email Campaigns

Learning Opportunities

Competitors and Target Market

CMSWire was fortunate enough to speak with the product's creator, Matthew McCloskey. Along with the genesis of the platform, Matthew and I also discussed what he considers to be the primary competition for Osmek and who the Osmek platform was created for.

Matthew sees Osmek playing in the same space with services like Squarespace (news, site) and LightCMS: fully hosted solutions that offer easy content management and "complete flexibility" with regard to the presentation layer.

Furthermore, Osmek also intends to target the same customer base as Squarespace and LightCMS. Specifically, web developers and designers who are looking for a content management solution for their clients.

Imagine this:

  • You run a one or two-man web development shop. As your company has grown, so have the needs of both your long-term clients and your new clients. These clients have real content management requirements, but they lack the budget to pay for even a mid-level web cms.
  • You have already built the first version of their website and now they want to update the content on their own. You foresaw this, so you built the website to integrate with Osmek. A smart developer would already have the content from the initial launch loaded into and publishing out of Osmek.
  • You then just train them on how to use Osmek and you collect a monthly retainer for updates to the presentation layer. Not to mention, a potential incentive from Osmek for consistently bringing new customers onto the platform. (Note: As of the writing of this article, developer incentives are not available, but Matthew assures me they are part of the product roadmap.)

One important difference between Osmek and its competitors (Squarespace, LightCMS, etc.) is that Osmek is not a "fully" hosted solution. Osmek only hosts (stores) and charges for the content that is entered, whereas Squarespace charges both for storage and the ability to manage the stored content.

Anyone who uses the Osmek platform, your clients for example, will need to host their actual website with any of the thousands of hosting providers on the market. Furthermore, it's important to note is that despite all the really cool functionality described above, this architecture does not support in-line preview.

Therefore, content creators will need to work closely with their development partner to create functionality or a preview environment. Matthew did intimate that basic in-line preview is on the product roadmap, but is tricky based on the way the platform works.

As you can see from the scenario above, Osmek allows you to develop your (or your client's) site using any programming language, framework or hosting environment you desire.


If the scenario above describes your business model, then I would recommend giving Osmek a try. While the offering is new from a commercial perspective, the platform has been put through its paces by customers of Kemso, LLC for several years.

If you do decide to try it out, we would love if you came back and shared your experiences in the comments below.

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