Developer

SolutionBase: Cook up a quick and rich Web site with Website Baker

Implementing a content management system for your network doesn't have to be an expensive or complicated undertaking. Jack Wallen shows how to cook up a powerful Web site using Website Baker.

I've used a lot of Web site creation tools over the years, from AWF to XOOPS (and everything between). Naturally, I find that most clients want their site setup to lie somewhere between complex and simple. Website Baker is one such tool. On its official site, Website Baker is touted as "a PHP-based Content Management System (CMS) designed with one goal in mind: to enable it's users to produce websites with ease." Rarely have I found such a statement so true. But how does it perform? How is installed? Does it scale? In this article, we'll find those answers.

Installation

The first thing you'll need to do is check off the list of requirements to make sure your server can handle Website Baker. These requirements are:

  • PHP >=4.1
  • MySQL >= 3.2.3
  • An HTTP server

The developers claim that getting Website Baker up and running on a non-*NIX platform might be tricky. So we'll assume you are installing on a Linux-based platform. In fact, I'll go one step further and assume you are installing on a Fedora Core system.

Now that you know your server meets the requirements, you can download the package from the Website Baker Web site. I am going to assume you will download the tar file. Once you have that file on your system, unpack it with the command:

tar xvzf websitebaker-XXX.tar.gz

where XXX is the release number of the file. After the file is unpacked, you will have a new directory called websitebaker-XXX (where XXX is the release number). If you change into that directory, you will find the following files:

CHANGELOG
COPYING
INSTALL
LICENSE
README

along with the wb directory. Move the wb directory into the document root of your Web server; in the case of Fedora, /var/www/html/.  

The next step is to change the permissions of the wb directory. For installation purposes, we are going to issue the command chmod -R 777 wb. Once your installation is complete, you can modify those permissions to suit your needs. Note: There are, however, specific subdirectories that will need world-writeable access.

Before you move ahead, you are going to need to create a database. I am not going to give you instructions on creating the necessary database. Just know that you will need to know the following for the installation:

  • Database Name
  • Database User Name
  • Database Password

Note: You will also need to make sure the database user you create has permission to add, delete and modify both records and tables in the newly created database.

With your directory in place and your database created, you are ready to fire up a browser and begin the installation process.

Once your browser is open, point it to http://address_of_server/wb/ and you will be automatically directed to the installation tool. The Website Baker installation tool is a simple setup tool. You will only need to add a few bits of information, press Install, and you are up and running.

The first bit of information you need (as shown in Figure A) is in Step 3 (Steps 1 and 2 let you know if your server meets the requirements and if your directories have the correct permissions). Step 3 asks for your absolute URL and your time zone.

Figure A

Make sure you include the FQDN in your absolute URL.

The next step (as shown in Figure B) is to specify the operating system environment and the MySQL details. Fill out that information, and you're ready to move on.

Figure B

Note the world-writeable permissions warning.

In Steps 5, 6, and 7 you will finish up the installation by adding the following bits of information:

  • Website Title
  • Administrator name, e-mail, password
  • Outgoing mail options

The final step is to delete the install directory (located within the wb directory.) This will ensure your site is not accidentally overwritten.

That's it! Now press the Install Website Baker button, and your Web site will be ready to cook!

First look-see

Once your installation is up and running, you will find yourself on the Website Baker start page (as shown in Figure C). This is where all the ingredients are found to create your magic.

Figure C

The horizontal navigation and the icons are redundant.

First, open the Preferences window, as shown in Figure D. This is where you're going to set the preferences for the administrator. These preferences really have nothing to do with the actual Web site, but everything to do with the administrator.

Figure D

Make sure your time zone is correct; otherwise, it might become difficult to track time-specific issues on your site.

The next page to visit directly affects your Web site. Press on the Settings icon to open up the site-specific settings. Settings are grouped into four categories:

  • General: Here you will title the site, describe the site, and enter keywords and footer information. You will also enable/disable: Page Trash; Home Folders; Intro Page; Login; and Sign-up. See Figure E.
  • Default: Here you will setup: Language, Timezone, Date Format, Time Format, and Template. Figure F shows this.
  • Search: Visibility and Template. This is shown in Figure G.
  • Server: Operating System and World-writable permissions are shown in Figure H.

Figure E

If you select the Sign-up drop-down list, you will notice that no groups are found.

Figure F

You must have the language add-ons installed to get other languages.

Figure G

If you want your search feature only visible to registered users, this is where you make that setting.

Figure H

Remember these settings from the initial installation?

At the bottom of each section, there is an Advanced Options button. By pressing this button, you reveal a number of other options for each section. I would advise you to browse through these options, as there might be something integral to your Web site setup.

Viewing your site

If you go to the Start page and press the View button, you will get the infamous "Under Construction" page. Even though you have configured your site, nothing will show until you have created that first page. So go back to the start page and press the Pages button. As shown in Figure I, you will be able create/edit/delete your pages.

Figure I

Upon installation, no pages are found.

To add your first page, give the page a title, select which type of page it will be, choose its parent (if any), select its visibility, and press Add. You will then be in the proper editor, depending on which type of page you created. Let's create a very simple WYSIWYG page. Once you press Add, the WYSIWYG editor will open. This editor is feature-rich and user-friendly.

Once you have created your test page, press Save and go back to the Start page. Now press the View icon to see what your new site is starting to look like, as shown in Figure J.

Figure J

Not much yet, but you've yet to scratch the surface.

From the Pages page, you can create quite a bit. Say, for example, you want to create a menu link for TechRepublic. Title the link TechRepublic, select Menu Link from the Type drop-down, select None from the Parent drop down, make the Visibility Public, and press Add. The next window will require you enter the Link and the Target, as shown in Figure K.

Figure K

Target defines where the link will open (new window, same window, or top frame).

If you go back to the Start Page and press View, you'll see the new link added to the navigation. Of course, there are a lot of possible page types to create. Play around with Forms, News, and Wrappers to get the feel of the types of pages that will best suit your needs.

Groups and users

Depending on your site's needs, you may or may not need to deal with users and groups. But if your site needs requires various groups and users, you're in luck. Select the Start page and then press the Access link. From here (Figure L), you can manage both users and groups.

Figure L

If you select Users right after installation, no users will be found.

Remember in the Settings category where you couldn't have the sign up feature show because no groups were found? Here, we can take care of that. To allow Editors to sign up for your site, for instance, create a group called Editors. Press the Access button from within the Start Page and then press the Groups icon. You will then configure your group called Editors, as shown in Figure M.

Figure M

Be cautious when giving permissions to your editors.

Create your new group with the proper permissions (according to their needs) and press Add. Then go back to the Settings window (from within the Start page); the Sign Up drop-down now lists Editors as an option. When you select from here, new members will automatically be joined as a member of this group.

Once created, a user can be administrated and assigned to various groups (giving them permissions assigned to said group).

Final thoughts

Obviously, we have begun examining the ingredients from which you can create a bakery of goods from Website Baker. This tool has quickly become one of my favorites when I need to have a site up and running very quickly. Although the system is currently lacking in add-ons, it makes up for this in simplicity and lightning-quick deployment.

As you play with Website Baker, you will find it more flexible as you go. Using templates will get your site looking just right.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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