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[Docs] What is Hotaru CMS?

Discussion in 'Getting Started with Hotaru CMS' started by Nick, Aug 9, 2009.

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  1. Nick

    Nick Well-Known Member

    Hotaru CMS (Japanese for firefly) was founded on June 18th 2009 by Nick Ramsay and is being developed by the Social Web CMS team and a number of enthusiastic users.

    In a nutshell

    Hotaru CMS is an open source, plugin-powered content management system. Think of it as "Wordpress without blogging". If Wordpress didn't do blogging by itself, you'd need plugins to do it for you. And if you had to make plugins, you wouldn't be limited to just blogging. You could make plugins for any kind of site, whether a blog, a social network, an online shop, etc. That's Hotaru CMS, a framework for making websites customized to your needs. As an example, check out the demo. It showcases a Digg clone made with Hotaru plugins.

    A platform to build on

    The core Hotaru package provides the absolute basics for a PHP-based website: A home page, an admin page, and a plugin management system. It comes with a straightforward installation script that installs some database tables and registers you as the administrator. And that's about it. You are then left to plug in the functionality you want your site to have.

    A plugin-based CMS

    If you wanted to, you could use that foundation to build a blog, a directory, a forum, or any other kind of website, but we've decided to start with a collection of plugins that make a social bookmarking site when used together. Whereas Wordpress plugins or Pligg modules tend to be quite small, Hotaru plugins provide such key components as user systems and post publishing. That means you can completely change how your website works by editing, changing or developing your own plugins - leaving the main Hotaru core files free from modifications and easy to upgrade.

    Total customization

    Hotaru offers four main areas for customization: main themes, admin themes, plugins and language packs. Themes are small and easy to customize, and the admin section is kept separate from the main theme so you can make or use different admin styles. Plugins use templates and language files that can be edited and saved without being overwritten when upgrading. Language packs are collections of raw text used in Hotaru that can be changed or translated into different languages.

    A developer-centric community

    The forums are intended to teach users how to customize and develop their own plugins rather than serve up ready-made ones. We're always looking for new people to develop and test Hotaru, its plugins and themes. You don't need to be a professional programmer (we're just amateurs ourselves), but if you're keen to learn then we're keen to have you!

    Continued below...
  2. Nick

    Nick Well-Known Member

    Hotaru CMS Features

    Here is an ever-changing explanation of features available in Hotaru CMS, some built-in, others provided by plugins.


    User registration includes anti-spam measures such as ReCaptcha, email validation, a "blocked" list, a plugin for StopForumSpam.com and options for a starting role: pending approval, under moderation or regular member. Furthermore, you can have moderators notified of new registrations by email.

    With the RPX plugin, users can register and log in with third party providers such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and Yahoo. This is a fantastic way to increase the number of people that register for your site.

    Roles, Permissions & Settings
    Users in Hotaru can be assigned to any of these roles: admin, super moderator, moderator, member, undermod, pending, banned, killspammed or deleted. Each role is given a default set of permissions that determine what a user can or can't do within your site. Admins can go one step further by editing permissions for individual users, enabling or disabling features. Users themselves can personalize their experience with individual settings, such as choosing to open new posts in a new tab or editing email notification settings.

    Profile, Activity & RSS Feeds
    The entire history of a user's activity is shown on profile pages, and RSS feeds are provided for a user's submitted posts, comments and site activity. Profile pages are initially quite basic, but can be extended by plugins to include extra content and pages. For example, the Activity plugin adds a stream of recent actions to the main profile page, while the Messaging plugin adds extra pages for Inbox, Outbox, View and Compose Message.


    Social Bookmarking
    Like Digg, users can submit urls to news they wish to share with other users. These posts can be assigned to categories, given tags and edited. Other users can comment on and vote for the best posts, which are prominently displayed on the front page of the site. Users with given permissions, can post without providing a url - a handy feature for site announcements. Posts are divided into three main sections - Latest, Upcoming and Top, depending on the number of votes received.

    Comments can be posted in response to each post with replies up to 5 levels deep. Comments can be shown oldest first or newest first and there's also an option to divide them over pages. The latest comments can be displayed in the sidebar and there's a dedicated "All Comments" page, too, complete with an RSS feed.

    Voting helps sift the good posts from the bad, and for the very bad posts, there's a "Flag it!" option which gives the user a choice of reasons why they are flagging the article. While on the Latest Posts page, a yellow or red flag is shown beside the post title which shows how many users have flagged it and why when you hover over the flag. Too many flags will bury a post and, optionally, delete it from the database. Votes and flags appear in the Activity widget, along with new posts and comments, to keep other users abreast of the latest happenings on your site.

    In the event that spammers get past your registration checks, they will hit another wall when trying to post content. Hotaru CMS uses the same Akismet service that is so successful on Wordpress. It works for both posts and comments, sending any dubious content into moderation for approval and informing you by email. On the off-chance Akismet gets it wrong, your actions when correcting the mistakes are fed back to the Akismet server to help train it better for next time.

    In addition to Akismet, there are a variety of options for managing new content. For example, you can specify how many posts a user can submit in a 24 hour period, how quickly a user can submit back-to-back posts, whether posts or comments should require approval, and even set how many initial posts and comments should go into moderation before being automatically approved. If that's not enough, you can specify what HTML tags can be used, how many links can be included, and if you keep getting hit by the same url or domain, you can add it to your "blocked" list. In the meantime, moderators can be alerted to new content by email.

    Admin Control Panel
    The basic admin panel includes pages for site settings, maintenance, managing your blocked list and plugin management.

    The "Maintenance" page gives you one-click ability to clear cache folders, optimize the database, archive posts,and close or open your site. Advanced options include removing plugin settings and emptying database tables.

    "Plugin Management" is the workhorse of Hotaru CMS. By enabling plugins, you add new features to your site. Many plugins add their own settings pages to your Admin Control Panel to give you further control over your users and content. For example, the User, Post and Comment Manager plugins put all your moderation needs in one place, and the Widgets plugin lets you customize your sidebar.

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