Review: Top 5 Laravel-based CMSs

When talking about Frameworks vs CMSs, we usually compare one to another. But in fact there are quite a lot of CMSs that are built on top of frameworks! Laravel isn't an exception and there are a few popular CMS projects which deserve attention. So I decided to look at the market and do a quick testing of those. Let's see what I've found.

1. October CMS

URL: https://octobercms.com/ GitHub: https://github.com/octobercms/october By far the most popular Laravel-based CMS on the market. And it deserves the popularity - from the CMSs I've tested this was the only one fully-production-ready: documentation, ease of use, plugins, themes, just take it and use it. The first pleasant thing is a web-based installation process, which allows even to choose from three installation options: blank, theme or ready-made. 0316_cms_october_01 I've chosen a theme-based option and here are some of the themes available by default. 0316_cms_october_02 And then - installation goes on, downloading files from the internet. 0316_cms_october_03 This is the visual result of installation - here's how a default homepage looks like: 0316_cms_october_04 Now, the admin area is quite nice as well. Theme consists of pre-made structured pages (to be exact, Twig templates) which you can edit from back-end. 0316_cms_october_admin_01 And yes, by saying "edit from back-end", I mean literally that. You can edit the code and click Save. Wow, CMS for developers. 0316_cms_october_admin_02 In addition, there are a few useful settings, I particularly liked mail preferences - you can not only choose mail driver from back-end (PHP Mail, Mailgun, Mandrill etc) but also have ready-made email templates to edit. 0316_cms_october_admin_03 Also I can say nice words about "marketing" part of the whole October CMS infrastructure, which is as important as core CMS itself. Look at this - docs are well-written: 0316_cms_october_docs There are hundreds of plugins already, including Paid ones - so developers can make money on this: 0316_cms_october_plugins Also there are about 50 themes, some also Paid: 0316_cms_october_themes And another strong piece of good impression about October CMS is that there are even jobs on Upwork which require specifically that system. That totally means maturity or October CMS: 0316_cms_october_upwork And finally - CMS is mature (started in October of 2013, now you understand the logic behind the name?) and is still strongly maintained, the last commit to Github was less than a month ago. So definitely check out October CMS, meanwhile - let's go to review the alternatives.
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2. Asgard CMS

URL: https://asgardcms.com/ GitHub: project - https://github.com/AsgardCms and core platform - https://github.com/AsgardCms/Platform Relatively new project, started in 2015, but already really strong. But this CMS is aimed more at developers, even install should be done from command line.
  1. First you can get the code using the following command:
    composer create-project asgardcms/platform your-project-name
  2. Finally, run the install command to get you started:
    php artisan asgard:install
  3. Done! Enjoy your freshly installed website. You can login to the back by going to the /backend URI.
Installation command asks you a few questions: 0316_cms_asgard_01 And then you login to back-end which is really simple and nice, pages are editable like this: 0316_cms_asgard_02 Default front-end homepage is really really simple, but I guess the thought behind it that you can easily extend it. 0316_cms_asgard_03 Asgard CMS is also actively maintained, last commit on GitHub was within the last month. So I can recommend Asgard CMS as a valid simple option for Laravel-based CMS.
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3. Lavalite

URL: http://www.lavalite.org/ GitHub: https://github.com/LavaLite/cms Also a developer-focused project with impressive Laravel 5.2 version and typical command-line install:
  1. composer create-project LavaLite/cms --prefer-dist website
  2. Enter your database details in .env file on root folder.
  3. Run php artisan migrate --seed to setup your database.
And after installation I can say Lavalite is both simple and usable. Admin area looks like this: 0316_cms_lavalite_admin Front-end template is simple but you can customize it however you want. 0316_cms_lavalite_home And Lavalite is really strongly maintainable: the last commit was just hours ago.
And now we move to contestants which are not production-ready or I had troubles using, but still makes sense to review them.

4. PyroCMS

URL: https://pyrocms.com/ GitHub: https://github.com/pyrocms/pyrocms This one has an interesting history - it was re-built from CodeIgniter (PyroCMS versions up to 2.x) to Laravel (version 3.x), with latter having a new main committer and still in beta. Maybe that's why installation wasn't successful for me - here are the screenshots. Visual installer, cool: 0316_cms_pyro_01 Update: more detailed overview of this CMS you can find in this fresh article.

5. TypiCMS

URL: http://typicms.org/ GitHub: https://github.com/TypiCMS/Base This one is totally for developers. All the information and documentation is directly on GitHub. It seems like there was a separate Laravel 4 version of this CMS, and now it's migrating to 5.2 (not 5.1 or 5.0, sounds impressive!). I succeeded at installing the system, but since I was testing on my Windows machine with XAMPP and TypiCMS requires Node.js and Gulp - I didn't succeed at compiling front-end stuff. This is how it looked: 0316_cms_typicms_01 All good, right? Then the error - npm install... 0316_cms_typicms_02 But in the end - installation succeeded, and the homepage loaded successfully, just without assets. 0316_cms_typicms_03 I also managed to login to the back-end admin area, which looks pretty nice and simple (though without front-end assets either): 0316_cms_typicms_04 So, to use TypiCMS you totally need Homestead or something like that, but overall seems like a really serious project with good documentation.

Overall conclusion

There are quite a few CMSs based on Laravel, with October CMS being a clear market leader. Personally, I'm not a fan of this solution (cause you have to maintain CMS on top of framework and constantly upgrade both), but if you do need this kind of architecture - just pick one of the above! Notice: I've also found some abandoned or just started projects which I haven't mentioned, but maybe in the future there will be more contestants for this TOP 5.

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