ProcessWire Aims to Simplify Web CMS

3 minute read
Josette Rigsby avatar


A new player has entered the open source web content management field. Version 2.0 of PHP-based web CMS, ProcessWire, has been released to beta and is now open source. ProcessWire is entering a crowded and competitive market, but given the proliferation and importance of content, there is definitely room for another option to manage it.

Why Another Open Source Web CMS?

ProcessWire is the result of more than a decade of knowledge gained from content management consulting. CMSWire spoke with Ryan Cramer, project creator, about why ProcessWire is different and why we should take notice of the effort.

The platform, which consists of a CMS and framework, focuses on simplicity for designers and developers. The project’s creator felt existing solutions forced developers and designers to conform to the CMS, instead of flexing to how users desire to work. The CMS was created to allow development of custom sites more quickly and easily than with existing tools. The tool is developer-focused. ProcessWire provides a developer API, inspired by the familiar jQuery java script library. Additionally, the platform is PHP, so developers don't have another tag-scripting language to learn.

Nearly every aspect of the application is module-based, like the popular web CMS Drupal. Modules provide extensibility and customization. Modules can add hooks to features in the CMS’ core, or to other modules. In fact, nearly every component and action in ProcessWire is hookable. This allows users to create deployments uniquely suited for their needs. Other features of the platform include:

  • Design flexibility. ProcessWire provides a platform to gain access to data, but designers provide the interface markup, so sites don’t have to conform to any specific layout or design to work in the platform.
  • Custom fields. All ProcessWire page fields can be custom-defined. Fields can range from simple text to complex rich text editors. Fields are assigned to templates and templates to pages. There are no limits to the quantity and use of pages, templates or fields.
  • Hierarchical data structure. ProcessWire employs a hierarchical data structure with pages, similar to operating system folders. There is no limit to the number of levels that can be nested.


Administrative interface - edit custom field


Administrative interface - edit template

Learning Opportunities

Potential users should be aware that the platform is new. It does not yet have the diversity of features, such as internationalization or CMIS support, that more mature open-source projects have implemented. However, most technology professionals are aware that no package can meet all needs of all projects; ProcessWire is no exception. If your project does not require a long list of high-end features, but could benefit from a flexible, developer-focused CMS, a look at ProcessWire might be beneficial.

What’s Next for ProcessWire

ProcessWire’s CMS is already spurring conversation. Although the platform was previously released, this is the first open source version under the GNU/GPL license. To date, the project has been a labor of love for Cramer. Now that ProcessWire is open source, Cramer is actively trying to engage developers to join the ProcessWire community. Cramer feels an active developer community is critical to ensuring:

  • success of the platform
  •  that the core remains developer-friendly
  • diverse universe of modules

The project is a chance for developers who wish to volunteer their time to significantly influence the direction of an open source product.

Getting the ProcessWire CMS

If you wish to learn more about the platform, videos detailing the features are available. There is also a demo site available . Version 2 is available for download from GitHub.