Lately I am impressed by Laravel. I’ve done several projects in it and it’s awesome.
Sometimes however there is a need for more than simply framework. I started looking for CMS system. I came across OctoberCMS that is based on Laravel 5.1
Installation wizard is nice and available, however I preferred to use composer to get it setup. A bit more knowledge than for WordPress is needed and I would advise to use ssh access and run Laravel artisan commands that are extended for October.
For templates Twig is used. I would be much happier if I could use default Laravel style themes. I’m not sure why authors chose Twig. There are however some nice templates ready to be used. And implementation of new templates doesn’t seem to be too stressful. One feature I am missing is native support for theme translations. There is a plugin that solves this problem but it is not the same thing, is it?
Support is available on forum, slack, stackoverflow and in documentation. Documentation is quite basic and will quickly fall short, specially if you need advance features or you are used to doing things your own way. Forum and slack are live but most people up there are asking questions trying to solve their own confusion with October so don’t expect your own problems to be answered – at least not on time. Be prepared for dipping in the code and searching around. At the time of this writing there are 245 questions tagged with octobercms on Stackoverflow which is not a lot either.
Most standard functionalities like blog, users, forum, Google analytics etc are covered either in core or in plugins. October CMS has a nice store for themes and plugins (most are free). However I found it hard to publish my own plugins. One was rejected since plugin with similar functionality already existed. If I could understand the first rejection I am still grasping why the second plugin was rejected. Reason for rejection was that the plugin icon is nice enough, that the screenshots are not aesthetic enough. And I was under impression that Apple was one and only who could afford this kind of behaviour.
I also contributed to several plugins with pull requests. After debugging a strange issues I found that plugin version in store can be dangerously old compared to version on master branches. Investigating further I found that all versions were properly added to store but are still pending approval (Translate plugin is pending from 29 July 2016 which means more than two months).
OctoberCMS is a nice product and definitely step in right direction. It is trying to be WordPress-like and user friendly with installations but still keep good programming practices in place. I believe it is strongly under staffed and lacking budget. Hopefully founders will be able to attract and allow others to help with development.