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CMS For The Rest Of Us
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CMS For The Rest Of Us

Currently everything seems to revolve around CMS, with a plethora of different solutions for RapidWeaver. For many years, I have relied on Pagelime for uncomplicated sites, but recently reached its limits with an overly long price list that the customer insists he wants to be able to edit himself – he never does, though, he's lazy and always reaches for the phone. I've thought for a while now that it's time to look for a new solution. The only problem is – My Thai clients already baulk at the price of a website and feel that CMS should be supplied as a freebie.

Do you remember Nimble Host's Sentry? It was a cross between an emergency failsafe and a time based publishing stack. You could switch stacks on, or off from any browser and could set the stacks to be displayed at specific times. I purchased the stack, but only used it two or three times.
When Jonathan turned his attention to things other than stacks, Will Woodgate took over the Nimble Host stables and they were integrated into seyDesign's website. Will has just updated Sentry and the stacks now carry the title Sentry CMS.

Compared to other, similarly priced, solutions, Sentry is amazingly simple to set up — specifically, there is nothing to set up!
If you've placed the necessary stacks on your page, the setup is automatic.

Sentry is now composed of four stacks. The first is Sentry CMS Base which should only be used once on each site, it should be placed on your homepage. Sentry CMS Base is the stack that is responsible for the whole CMS setup. However – all you have to do is add accounts for as many users as should be allowed to edit the published site. Up to ten users can be added and to set them up, all you need to define is a mail address and a password for each of them.
If you're feeling lazy, the other settings may be ignored.
However, they do define how the editing interface will be displayed. You can, alter the description for each of the Buttons and entry fields – to change the language for instance. You can also set the colour for the Button Fill and the Button Text for the normal and hovered states.
The two Final check boxes will set a Simplified Editing Interface which will hide labels and coloured bars in the editing interface when enabled, and display a Data Download Link (which is displayed in RapidWeaver, not online). The Download Link allows you to make backups of your database and media at intervals of your choice.

Sentry's second stack is Sentry Display, which takes over the function of the old Sentry stack. This is the timebased publishing stack and the only settings in the new version of the stack are Timeframe: Display Always; Until Date1; After Date1 and Between Date1 and Date2. You can drop any stack into Sentry Display and it will not be visible on your website outside the dates defined. The Sentry Display can also be, activated and deactivated manually via any browser interface and, if you placed your content within a SentryEdit stack it can also be edited.

The third stack that Sentry supplies is the Sentry Edit Stack. This is the stack that your clients will find most valuable. The Sentry Edit stack is the stack that will contain the data that you will want to edit online. You can drop stacks with editable content – i.e. text and images – into Sentry Edit and, when you log in, the contents can be altered online.
Sentry Edit has just two settings in the stack interface. The first, Add Top Padding To Editor, will add padding to the editing box in those rare cases where the save button isn't visible. The second, Overwrite Online Edits. When the 'Overwrite' is activated, subsequent uploads from RW will overwrite any edits the client has made.
I can't tell you how many clients have wrecked a layout by treating a CMS system as if it were M$ Word. 'Of course, I always hit 'Enter' when I'm finished!' Oftentimes it's easier to start over than to try and rescue the edited version.

The final Sentry stack is Sentry Login. You will need a Sentry Edit stack on each Sentry page. The stack settings have a checkbox to Display Login Button; FA [FontAwesome] Login Icon; the Icon Position, for all four corners of the browser window, or As Positioned; and the Icon Colour for Normal and Hovered states.
The final checkbox is Soft Reload The Page and ensures that the current page version is displayed at login, not a cached version.

Upon Login, the user will see all of Sentry's editable stacks within the page layout. The Editor has a standard interface that is easily understandable and will allow you to set paragraph formatting for Paragraph, Quote and Headers 1—4. Bold Italic and Strikethrough. Links can be added as can images. Then we have Text Alignment and Lists.
When altering the Paragraph, Quotes, or Header, the theme font is always used and images honour the maximum width of the container. Just make sure that your client is aware of the fact that each Sentry container must be saved individually, there is no global 'Save' button.

Sentry CMS
You may be asking yourself, why Sentry doesn't require any setup. The simple fact is, Sentry utilises a SQLight database. It doesn't require you to set up a database individually – it can create its own database.
When you upload your Sentry website the first time, be prepared for it to take longer than usual. The database does, after all, need to be configured. Subsequent uploads follow at a normal speed.
Sentry is compatible with modern, responsive RapidWeaver themes. If in doubt, download the demo version and test it before purchase. Sentry is White Labeled. There is no indication on the webpage that you didn't build the CMS solution yourself. However, there is no immediate way to add your own logo.

Sentry CMS may be used with multiple websites that you own and manage. E.G. if you manage 5 websites for 5 different clients, then you are permitted to use Sentry CMS on all 5 websites. However, if one of those clients wishes to manage the RapidWeaver website themselves, they would need to buy a separate copy of Sentry CMS.

seyDesign offers support for the first website [that might have problems] only. Support for subsequent sites is available at a charge. However, Sentry is so simple to implicate, that I hardly see any problems arising.

Oh, and one more thing. Sentry is much easier to use than Pagelime – both for you and the client. Instead of a separate container for each block of editable text,

you can drop in a whole Columns stack and everything within it becomes editable! And if you are coming from Pagelime – you won't need to replace all of your page lime stacks, just drop them into Sentry, their container and all (the screenshot above is all Pagelime stacks). The Pagelime stacks won't affect your Sentry editabilty.

Go forth and annotate those sites.

Update Note

Version 4 is a FREE update for all existing users, available from your Paddle Account or by request via email. The magnitude of the changes in version 4 means that this update is not available via automatic updates inside Stacks / RapidWeaver. The update needs to be manually downloaded and installed after you've run a backup. Previous Sentry CMS stacks can be swapped-out for the new stacks and configured accordingly.

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