@niwoodbridge, nicely said. Sounds like you’ve been around the block looking for a solution. And you’ve given us a good summary of the experiences people have had with other systems.

Welcome to the community!

It’s also nice to see that we have such a high rating on CMS Design Resource. We just have some documentation to work on.

@bauhouse Hey! Thank you for the kind words.

I am new(ish) to the whole Web Design arena, so wanted to get some experience of what is out there, in terms of CMSes that is. But as I quickly discovered it is a task easier said than done, as the options are both ever changing, and every increasing. So I have tried out a good few systems.

But I feel now that I could settle on Symphony, as a viable solution for much of what I throw at it (although would I never recommend that people should disregard other options automatically, something else may do the job just as well).

Documentation has definitely improved over the last few months, which is wonderful, although the plans for it to expand are also good.

I’m coming from a Typo3 background, with forays into Plone, TextPattern, Drupal, and Concrete5.

Symphony really appeals to me because of the designer’s minimalist approach. I realize there is a bit of a learning curve (typoscript, anyone?) but I find myself daydreaming of the possibilities…

Hi Bill and welcome!

I have to work with Typo3 from time to time and it has the opposite effect on my working morale compared to Symphony :)

I’m coming from a Django background. I am no backend programmer but quite quickly picked up Python and Django and love the flexibility of a framework. At that time I was using simple CMS’es such as Frog and Wolf CMS (actually a nice little page-based CMS) and Wordpress (meh).

The Django (Python) hosting requirements combined with the overkill of a complete MVC framework for relatively simple sites made me look for an alternative CMS.

I looked into Symphony some time ago but went with EE (yeah) mainly because of the fact that it allows for the modelling of custom contenttypes, the many extensions and the fact that so many ‘high-profile’ (web-) designers swear by it ;)

However, EE felt a bit ‘bloated’ and the whole system (UI) is still quite difficult for clients to grasp. The price tag (also of extensions) was another reason that I quickly moved on…

It seems there’s not really a lot of choice when you’re looking for a (PHP based) lightweight, user-friendly, standards-based CMS that gives us complete freedom regarding templating and offers the modelling of custom contenttypes. Those being my requirements I came back to Symphony and noticed the lovely redesigned website (sucker for design ;) )

At first the XSLT turned me off a bit (quite some standards-people do not appreciate it, it seems) but I’m picking it up and I can see the power in it a little better now.

What I love about Symphony is basically it’s philosophy: the minimalism, the flexibility, the transparency, etc. I love the fact that it seems a hybrid between a framework and a CMS: it just seems to offer exactly what I am looking for. Symphony offers me the flexibility to build custom functionality around custom content while offering users a simple and intuitive interface.

Mind you: Ihave yet to finish my first Symphony site! I’ll update this post if needed ;-P

Also, and this is very important, the documentation is quite good (and there’s a lot of effort in making it better) and the Symphony community seems to be small enough for me to ‘get to know’ some helpful key people and big enough for me to discover people running into the same issues as I have.

I continue to be impressed with Symphony and you helpful folks, thanks!

I have also yet to complete a site (becoming a parent has got in the way!) Loads of incomplete projects though, it’s so quick to try new ways of doing things!

I don’t think I’ve ever posted in this thread, but I’ve been using symphony for over a year now.

I don’t use symphony for every entire site because I come across wildly different application requirements. But when I need a quick, easy way to deploy a site with a slick backend, I do use symphony. My favorite part about symphony is the community. Everyone is very helpful and understanding and contributes immensely. I work across a lot of languages and projects privately and publicly, and if my co-workers were as helpful as you guys, I imagine I’d get a lot more done.

I think I googled “xslt cms”

Probably about time I jot down my own story here… It was a nice, warm and sunny afternoon some moons ago now. We (my small company) decided to offer a clean, simple and tailored solution for a specific niche of clients. We do have our own open source webapp framework, Kolibri ( of which we’re proud of, but it’s not a CMS.

Through developing Kolibri we fell in love with XSLT, and while searching for a CMS nothing really “clicked”. Of all the solutions we looked at (PHP-based? I’ve probably seen it), Symphony suddenly hit the mark. Define my own content model? A UI for routings? XSLT for templating? Nice!

Obviously Symphony’s not a direct replacement for WordPress or any similar solution. But that’s the whole point! It’s a Content Mangement Framework in a way that makes me happy. I can define the content model along with my client, with no hassle, and the client gets a clean and simple UI for editing content. And the fact that I love working with XSLT for views… That’s probably the biggest obstacle for beginners, but once you get used to it it’s one of the biggest advantages of Symphony.

“The Tao of Symphony” sold me on symphony after being in search of the holy grail of content management for so many years…

I heard about Symphony a couple of days ago on the Modx forums.

For about 1½ years I’ve had an idea for a site I wanted to create. I’ve had the structure and feature set done for almost as long. But finding a CMS that could actually provide a platform for this particular structure proved very difficult.

I’ve gone through Modx, Textpattern, TikiWiki and Drupal just to mention a few and every time either the closed structure of the native system or the excessive need for modification ended up scaring me away. Modx actually went through the mill twice in this time and that’s when I heard about Symphony.

With 1½ years of failure I was quite skeptic when I installed Symphony, XSLT is not my strong side, but after 3 days of fooling around it’s actually growing on me faster than anything else. Finally something that caters to my sense of logic.

Be it time pressure or just sheer puppy-love I’m sticking with Symphony, I’ll just have to ask a lot of stupid question if I get stuck along the way :-D

Aalandriel, welcome to the community! I’m glad to hear you’ve finally found a solution in Symphony.

This makes me wonder whether we should be joining the forums of other CMS systems and posting solutions to people’s problems with links to Symphony, but I wouldn’t want to take the low road with comment spam.


It’s not a bad idea, but it will be a very fine line to walk. In my own experience a lot of “web-developers” aren’t likely to want to change to a new CMS if quite different from what they’re used to work with. And XSLT is really something else (in a good way).

It’s such a fine line, that I don’t think it’s a line I want to cross.

I agree that there is definitely a resistance to change. And I understand that it takes a long time to learn a system, which is why I decided to learn to use Symphony in spite of the learning curve. I knew that learning XSLT would be something that would be a transferable skill. Now that I have, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to learn a proprietary templating language because they seem like such a hack in comparison.

Your comments got me thinking. While refraining from hi-jacking members from other CMS forums there are still a lot of neutral ground that we can cover without getting close to crossing the line.

For instance there’s a lot of LinkedIn groups regarding web-technologies that aren’t product specific, and of course a multitude of various forums and communities. Just keep it to replying to peoples posts and not plain advertisement and it should be fine.

I have a hard enough time keeping on top of discussions in our Forum. So, I’m not terribly active on LinkedIn. There’s a lot of ways I should be, as leader of the Symphony Advocacy Working Group, better at leading the Advocacy effort.

Aalandriel, if you’re up to the task of replying to LinkedIn groups about Symphony, would you mind taking this on?

Sure.. I’d be glad to help.

I’ve mostly been focusing on Adobe groups on LinkedIn but I have room for more groups so I’ll add a few more web related groups and link to symphony when it fits the discussions.

Fantastic! Thanks, Aalandriel.

Great idea! I’ve never really had a reason to “use” LinkedIn, but any good idea that can help spread the word about Symphony is worth a shot. I’ve joined a couple web design/development groups now which seems to have a good sense of web standards and quality, and I’ll try to keep an eye on discussions.

Thanks, froded.

When I hear about the struggles people have to go through with other systems, it doesn’t seem right that people have to endure so much pain just because they haven’t heard of Symphony.

But, as you infer, it’s more likely that you’ll have a willing ear among those who have a penchant for craft and web standards.

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Symphony • Open Source XSLT CMS

Server Requirements

  • PHP 5.3-5.6 or 7.0-7.3
  • PHP's LibXML module, with the XSLT extension enabled (--with-xsl)
  • MySQL 5.5 or above
  • An Apache or Litespeed webserver
  • Apache's mod_rewrite module or equivalent

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