firstly I need to say what I'm trying to do with SS is 'not just your plain old unauthenticated CMS site'. For this, SS I firmly believe is the best there is. What I'm doing is more complex -- lots of forms, authenticated access, complex business object relationships.
After following tutes 1 to 4 I was so impressed with SS. It's a slick system clearly designed by people both with a deep understanding of the 'ajax web' and CMS needs. Silverstripe's best features are:
- it's so easy to build complex data models: that is, customised business objects such as in my project concepts such as Museum, Exhibition, Artwork, etc and it manage all the mySQL stuff intelligently, including subclassing and relations! Wow.
- the admin gui is slick and makes light work of managing content; history and 'just enough workflow' works
HOWEVER the lack of any reasonable documentation at this level seriously impacts project progress again and again. After initial progress I've ground almost to snails' pace because although the system is well designed, it's a large code base and I'm having to essentially step through code line by line to find out how stuff works.
For example, I spent an entire saturday trying to figure out how to do many to many relationships. (I documented this in the forums). I've started also documenting my understanding in other areas (like how Director works) but it's not been my top priority.
And as for how forms work, I stumbled on what I can only call plain whacky basic policy of not being able to render individually id'd form elements (you can iterate through all fields, and all actions, but this makes it nigh impossible to interleave them). This is all customisable of course; I'd extend __get somewhere to do some clever lookups so the template could do this, but it was another half day of fumbling in the dark to understand this.
I'm at a point where I may have to dump SS now and go to Ruby on Rails, as I've been running a project in parallel using RoR and the progress that guy has made has been simply astonishing. RoR is truly high productivity -- but you don't get all the rich CMS stuff SS provides out of the box. (That said, we're looking at an extranet-style situation where clients manage their own content, and I tremble at the thought of customising SS's admin gui to impose admin gui privs like this...)
As per this site's recommendation I mailed tim@silverstripe about 2 weeks ago asking for some professional services support but no response.
I can understand where SS came from, and that this doco situation will likely be significantly different in a year or so. But the combination of:
- about 6 people in TOTAL in the world knowing SS well
- erratic response times on queries
- nonexistent documentation for the majority of the core concepts
... is looking like just too much tech risk for my project.
Help! Any ideas welcome.