- Content Types (=custom forms)
- Many highly parametrized powerful fields with select content plugin triggering
- Drag-drop templating
- Multi-Category assignments (secondary & featured)
- High performance FACETED filtering !!!
- Author management with limitations for subscriptions sites
10x-20x more features in free version, compared to other Free CCK/Directory components
Thus, FLEXIcontent was designed to manage content in a broad sense:
- image or video galleries,
- job offers,
- product catalogues,
- business directories,
- hotel directories
within a single user interface.
-- This means for the end user, unparalleled simplicity of use, everything happens in one place.
-- Mastering 10 components to be able to administrate an entire website isn’t required anymore.
-- For the web designer / end user / developer, it means a lot less headaches of interoperability/maintenance
Some of FLEXIcontent Unique features:
(none in other component's Free versions, many unique compared to commercial versions)
-- Multi Category assigments, with multiple featured categories (configurable via our Advance Route Plugin, see our FAQ)
-- Multiple Document versioning (combined with workflow and powerful notifications messages, see below)
-- Multi-state Workflow to assist both editors & publishers to add/update content to your site
-- Highly configurable powerful notification system: (Global) Component + Per Content Type + Per category
-- High parametrized Fields(=joomla plugin each) (carefully structured to assist configuration and be performance wise)
-- Powerful relation/reverse Relation fields to create custom Content Item sub-listing inside a Content Item
-- An powerful image/gallery field to create DB-reusable image/galleries or item-field specific galleries with numerous parameterization options
-- Multiple filter apperances: text field/single select/dual text range/dual select range/toggle radio/toggle checkbox(multiple filter values)
-- FACETED filter behavior for almost all searchable fields: showing filter values according to current filtering and current
-- A -Free- Advanced Search view (to host the above 2, but also available in categories too) and create content-rich listings
-- Directory/Catalog features, directory view + a powerful Alpha-Index with character aliases, character aggregations, language customizations
-- Selective plugin triggering in all fields
-- High performance frontend views and items manager, with steady performance as sites grows (**installing on EXISTING larges sites 20,000+ items is still slow, TODO), (and works with full page caching extensions)
-- 30+ ACL actions (e.g. edit field value)
-- ... many more UNIQUE
I was able to look at and edit one of the imported articles (called item in flexicontent) and this seemed promising. So, I checked out all other functions and the file manager just showed me a blank page. Not a good sign, but I thought that I may fix this issue later.
So, I created 2 additional types which I called Service and Product. I changed one Article to become a Service. No issue so far, except for a warning message that did not make much sense. Then I checked out more functionality and saw a warning about needing to create at least one menu item. So far I did not need documentation, but here my first issue started: where is the documentation if you need it? On the flexicontent.org website is a nice forum, but it is difficult to find help for specific issues. I found some information and then I created a menu item using the flexicontent component. Then I wanted to edit another Article, but found that the editor was empty, no content visible. So, I checked the original Joomla Article section, found the content (both versions, the original and the one for FlexiContent) and was able to edit it with JCE.
To make this story short, I deleted the FlexiContent content, category and section twice and re-imported the content structure twice, but it never worked again. It was not possible to edit any articles/items, all were blank. So, I removed all FlexiContent content structures and uninstalled the component. It simply does not work properly and has poor documentation.
Overall, the concept seems very good and I respect the developers for all of their efforts. In my opinion this current version is only for early, early adopters who are willing to gamble and potentially spend a lot of time to keep it running.
The only improvement could be the fact that not all my questions are answered on the forum (although i'm donating).
Despite, i can recommend it to everyone.
I guess my big complaint is that, with it being so difficult to understand, there's strangely a lack of solid documentation. Sure, there's some vague FAQ's and a forum, but one would expect a step by step simple guide to getting started, like a walk-through on creating basic things, like items, cats, etc. In fact, I think that, with as extensive as it is, there should be a simple one paragraph guide to setting up the first content items as a built-in help section.
Maybe I missed it, but I don't think so. So really the lack of "Good" documentation and tutorials is my major complaint. It could be a bit more user friendly too.
On the plus side, I think once you spend some considerable amount of time figuring it out, it will be extremely powerful.
Because I love it, I would like to provide some constructive critiques.
1. Although you can build unlimited nested categories, its architecture is potentially slow. It is not using MPTT and relies heavily on a one-to-many/many-to-many relationship.
2. Please get some ideas from jSeBlod and Zoo - Installable Apps and CCK Packs. I feel like the power of Flexicontent would be wasted if there is no way to share what the users have done. In jSeblod, you can package your "Content Type and Templates" and then share it.
3. Additional Views would be great for templating. For now there is only "Category" view and "Item" view. If you create templates, you just create views for those 2. But it would be nice if there is "Frontend Form view", "Admin Form View", something like what jSeblod did.
4. For someone who wants to extend Flexicontent, the API is a major concern. The API is easy to use, but it's not that flexible. For example, if I want to create a template and I want to display an image field, the "category view" will always display the small image, the "item view" will always display the medium image, then the large is displayed by clicking on the image as a lightbox. I hope there is a way to specify which image to display on any view but the API doesn't seem to allow for it.
5. Please improve the workflow too. Right now, when you click on "New Item" there is an unnecessary task of "Applying" it first before you can actually create the content. Clicking on "New" should just let you choose which content type you want to create instead of displaying a form and entering the title, selecting the content type, then hitting apply.
Overall, I like Flexicontent because it uses the com_content tables instead of having its own tables for content. It also has a nice balance of features and user-friendliness. I can only hope that this CCK can improve further and become the best CCK available for Joomla.
First of all, thanks a million for this constructive review. As you took time to analyse the software deep inside, the least I can do is to answer you point by point: ^^
1°- You're right: I'd love to use the MPTT, but I didn't because I wanted to use the standard Joomla! categories table and as you know there there aren't any left and right fields :( Using the categories allow FLEXIcontent to function with fast all standard Joomla modules.
To lower this performance issue all the category tree is cached in a file in the system plugin so that you can know everywhere all parents, children, aso from a specific category without any query.
2°- Hehe, of course that's in progress ;)
3°- Of course it would be better, but it would me more complex to manage for non skilled users. But it's a good idea and I keep it in mind.
4°- I think I've done better than that ^^. You will now be able to use item views to emulate category views. Have a look here: http://www.flexicontent.org/forum/index.php?f=28&t=1766&rb_v=viewtopic#p8208
5°- Right! That's what is done in Mighty Ressources for example. But at the beginning I wanted to load the form through ajax like for the fields. When I discoverered that the addCustomTags method doesn't function in a raw view, I undestood I won't be able to do it :( But I'll study that again as soon I'll get time ^^
THANKS A LOT for supporting the project with very constructive feedbacks like that, I really appreciate!!!
I've made so many trials with this thing now and can not figure out how to work this component and that's the first for me.
But it looks great and was easy to install and not all things are and that for sure needs to get complemented :)
I hope I can return fairly soon with a more happy report regarding the funcationality. For installation I give it toprating :)
i installed it and after? there is no extra nice module! i think its a weakness!
after make a menu-component , i saw a weak view of categories list, also there is no list view mode. (or tree view module for example)
i know that this extension have great abilities like multi-mapping or nested categories but front-end environment is not important really?
content-management for admin is not all the things!
anyway this component would be more great if some tiny enhancement done!
thank you FLEXIcontent!
This component worked flawlessly on my local server, but I had 1 error when the site was moved to a live server.
I posted a question on the FLEXIcontent forum including some basic info, when I checked back I had a response from kenmcd (moderator) who asked a few more relevant questions and also strongly recommended that I upgrade to the latest Joomla version (I would have got to this later), 4 or 5 more posts trying to sort out my problem and I finally got around to upgrading Joomla.
Long story short, he was right, but most importantly - the support was first class, the component is first class.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND FLEXIcontent
There are some negatives. For example, there is no front-end editing yet at the time of writing ('10-03) although that is in the road map. The documentation could be a bit better. The extension is under active development and that seems to delay support. But things like these are easily forgotten given the positive sides of this extension, and the potential it is likely to reach.
FC is very user-friendly and has the potential to become idiot-proof. It uses the core plugin system for field types limited only by imagination, the core category tables for multi-level categories, and the core database tables for content without cluttering text fields with codes. Many normal Joomla plugins and modules will work with FC. It has a template system which allows for drag & drop placement of fields as well as for custom templates. FC includes conveniences like rating and tags and easily integrates with a couple of commenting extensions. It is perhaps not the most capable CCK but it is not far off at all, and already now it is as complete as most people will ever need. Support is sometimes a bit slow but it is good. Moreover, all this comes for free. Of the two extensions that I think are as good or better, one is commercial and the other is just not simple in use.
If all this is not enough, you can couple FlexiContent with FlexiAccess at a small price. FlexiAccess completely integrates with FC and enables detailed access control of content, also on the front-end. There is a FC beta for J!1.6 but FC, FA and NoNumber's module manager already seem to do much of what 1.6 will do.
I find it hard to imagine ever making a website without FlexiContent again, especially if development continues to be as active as it is.
While Joomla's one of the greatest CMS, there was a problem in presenting content in the first end unless you were a techie with great php or cms skills.
Flexicontent changes all that and allows you to create multiple templates and fields for presenting content for the front end. This is the biggest advantage and you can present the content differently for different categories.
Templates - The creation and modification of templates is a breeze. Each template for a category/type is in a separate folder and you can change that without messing up the css of other templates. The creation of templates is intuitive and you can place different fields in different placeholders.
The other advantage of Flexicontent is that you can enable various plugins within any of the fields.
Creating content also became much easier with customizable fields.
As I said earlier, Flexicontent just completed Joomla by adding a nice content presentation layer. The possibilities of applications for Flexicontent is limitless and is a must for any large dynamic websites. You could actually use Flexicontent instead of Moset Tree (yes, I am using it instead of Moset Tree as I have far better control for content presentation and content creation).
Flexicontent is young but really mature. Some additions would be nice. An extension to SH404 SEF would go a long way for other webmasters to migrate to Flexicontent. ACE SEF is supported by Flexicontent but is not very stable and a lot of bad URLs are generated and you don't get any help from ACE SEF forums.
Creation of different Tags fields should also be added.
Advance search and search modules for Flexicontent are desperately needed. More plugins and modules like Google Maps will be welcome too. Front End content creation and edition is awaited as promised in Flexicontent 1.6 stable.
Flexicontent is probably the most significant and important development for Joomla 1.5.
This extension rock!
With the content types the end users can easily add all types of content, while FLEXIcontent and CSS take care for the positioning. That is what end-users expect from a CMS.
And it's got versioning to!
There are two reasons I doubted about giving 5 stars: there is to few documentation, but it's still a young project. And second: it shouldn't be a component but Joomla! core :). I hope the developers get an invitation very soon to add their code to Joomla! 1.7.
Dont want to discourage anybody but I think the authors should make suggestions to the Joomla Core Team for improvements - not to put another application on the existing one.
Anyhow thanks for the try, personally I removed the extension from my website.
The only thing telling against it is its young age, and yet so mature.
All things seems to be in place, except various modules that would make it even more useful. But hey then again, as long as you use it in "proper" way you will be able to use the modules available for com_content, overcoming that shortcoming.
You simply should download and try it, and take note of that its first release is yet to come and RC in some days (I think).