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Say Hi To Anchor – A Super-Tiny CMS

on Web Design

I’m going to make a bold assumption here, but I bet you’ve got a blog. If you do, then you join a crowd of millions, all penning their deepest thoughts and documenting their life. It really is hard to stand out from the crowd though.

Anchor aims to fix that. Based on the technology behind my blog, Anchor’s a super-tiny content management system, built especially in mind for art-directed posts; that is, a blog where every article is designed (and coded) differently. If you’ve ever used WordPress before, you’ll know how to use Anchor; if not, it doesn’t matter. You’ll still know.

So, why design custom?

It’s a good question; although it does take a bit more effort and planning than a normal blog, it pays off a lot more, it showcases your design talent, and it really makes you think about blogging at a core level. It’s great fun, trust me.

But I don’t want to/can’t design custom posts. Can I still use Anchor?

Anchor, although built for custom posts, it’s perfectly capable for a standard blog. The only difference is that you don’t add your custom CSS/Javascript. The screenshot below is of the default administration interface you’ll see when using Anchor. It’s simple, beautiful, and easy to use. There’s no excess clutter; everything has been professionally-designed for the best user experience, so you, your clients, or anyone can use it.

Why should I use it instead of WordPress?

As of version 0.6, Anchor is incredibly lightweight: at 170kb, it’s far smaller than WordPress (and most content management systems out there); it’s faster, outperforming WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and various other CMSs in both page load times and database query optimisation; it’s beautiful (although I might be a bit biased here), and we’ve got a great community.

Of course, if you’re working on larger, non-blog sites, WordPress is probably best. Anchor focuses on a blog, and aims to do it well.

What makes it different?

If there was one thing I liked most about Anchor, it’d be theming. Anchor has one of the best theming engines out there; it’s both simple and powerful. Using a simple PHP5.3+ function-based system, you can truly customise your blog to perfection. Of course, that’s not all; apart from its custom post design, Anchor has a few unique features built-in that really help your blog stand out. Here’s a couple of my favourite ones:

  • Custom Fields: Similar to WordPress’ custom fields, Anchor allows you to attach custom key/value pairs of data to any post. This is incredibly useful, as it lets you have an infinite amount of content.
  • Custom Functions: If you’re happy with writing PHP, Anchor provides you with two functions, bind and receive, which allow you to write custom functionality for every page on your site (e.g a custom contact form, fetching Dribbble shots, or a Twitter feed – the sky’s the limit!).
  • Status Check: If something’s wrong with your blog, you’ll be the first to know; it’s a box in the sidebar that notifies you of any problems, security holes, or anything you’ll need to be aware of.
  • High-Quality Themes: Anchor prides itself on the highest level of quality in its designs, and the themes are no exception. Every theme built for Anchor has been carefully built to both look and work stunningly. Check out the Theme Garden for some examples of what’s been done.

Installing and using Anchor

WordPress has its famous five-minute install; Anchor has its not-so-famous five-second install. Provided you’ve got PHP 5.3 or greater, and access to a MySQL database, you’ll have Anchor up and running within a flash. Just download it, follow the simple installer, and keep a note of your login details (you can change them later, though).

Once it’s installed, you’re free to use and abuse Anchor; it’s licensed under the WTFPL, which allows you to do whatever you want (just be nice); you’re allowed and encouraged to use Anchor for both personal, commercial, and any other reason you can think of.

That’s it!

Hopefully I’ve persuaded you to use Anchor; if I have, great! I wish you the best on your adventures with Anchor, and if you ever get stuck, you can contact the Anchor team on Twitter, or in the official forums. If not, I’m sorry. Maybe this will help?

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