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.