A brief history of XirtCMS

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Over ten years ago I was working as a web developer at a small company in the Netherlands. During this time, I was building websites and web applications with well-known CMS like Joomla and WordPress which enabled the company to deliver results to its clients within a matter of weeks. While I did admire the flexibility, scalability and community driven support of these platforms, I often concluded that they were quite elaborate out-of-the-box resulting in a relatively high barrier to understand all their ins and outs. Furthermore, I was not really charmed by the way certain functionalities were implemented (for e.g. SEO & multi-language support) so after the Joomla upgrade from 1.7 to 2.5 broke all backward-compatibility I started looking for alternatives.


Finding no alternatives that suited all my needs, I started development of a new simple platform to build web applications. Having to give my platform a name to refer to it, I dubbed it "XirtCMS" derived from my player name "Xirt[NL]" used while gaming. From late 2008 until I switched to a junior consultant job in 2012, I have used the platform to create several websites and (hotel) booking systems while constantly refactoring the code and implementing additional features when needed. Although the CMS has always been a "work in progress" in my opinion, I have agreed with my antecedent employer to bring the code online on GitHub under version 3 of the GNU General Public License. The code of this legacy version can still be found there, but – as I never advertised it – I am quite sure it has been rarely downloaded.

Example of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) of XirtCMS v1.6The Graphical User Interface (GUI) of XirtCMS v1.6

Working towards maturity

My new job as consultant was completely different from the web developer role I had previously, hence the need to update XirtCMS quickly diminished to a very low level. In 2015, I did an attempt to revive the platform by rewriting the old code into a version 2 of the platform, but half a year of construction work to my new house made sure that this attempt was futile and I ceased the activity in July of that year. With the main renovations done over half a year later, I started playing again with the idea to rewrite the platform providing me, my girlfriend and any other interested people the opportunity to play around with it and bring it to live. Although I did explore ideas on how to approach this activity, the actual rewrite of the platform did not start until late 2016. Using CodeIgniter 3.x as a base, I have been coding many evenings in the past months to revive the platform using new insights I have gained throughout my years as consultant (actually trying to apply the KISS principle for a change...).

Future work

So, the next months I will steadily publish all files for the platform after a lot of refacturing and debugging. Work is progressing quite well at the moment and a lot of code can already be found in the repository on GitHub. After completion of the main functionalities, I hope that I can extend the platform with more modules, widgets and base functionaliteit providing webmasters all tools they need to create their websites.In the meantime, stay tuned for more blogs detailing XirtCMS' features and progress.

Obviously, I am well aware that both Joomla and WordPress have also improved tremendously over the years suiting the needs of many users. My goal with XirtCMS has never been to conquer the world or compete with them, but to build a relatively simple platform that can suit the needs of a niche of developers that are – just like I was – looking for a small, fast and easy-to-understand package to develop their websites and web applications.

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