What’s in a DecentCMS site’s folder?

The default mechanism to store content items in Decent CMS is to use files under the /sites directory. This can be replaced with database storage, of course (the first provider I’ll implement after the file-based one will be CouchDB), but the file storage has some unique advantages. While it’s obviously not something you’d use on a big site, being able to xcopy contents, and deploy contents with a simple ftp client is very powerful. Being able to look into folders and find content items as single files that can be modified with a simple text editor is extremely comfortable.

If you look under the /sites directory that’s at the root of a DecentCMS instance, you’ll find one or several subfolders that correspond to the tenants or sites running under the instance. If there’s only one site, it’ll usually be called “default”. Under each of those tenant folders, you’ll find the same structure…

  • settings.json contains the site’s settings, including its name, the host names to which it must respond, the list of enabled features, and the settings for each of those features, if they have any.
  • content is where the content items are defined. The subfolder structure and file names define the ids of the content items. For example, “/foo/bar/baz” can be defined by a baz.yaml.md file under a foo and a bar directories.
  • widget is where widgets and layers are defined. The index.json file defines the layers, with the ids of the widgets they contain (if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, I’ll write another post on that specifically, but in the meantime you can check out the Orchard documentation as the concept is exactly the same). The widgets are content item files that are stored in the same folder as the index.json file.
  • media is where the assets that are specific to the site (typically images) can be found. The files under this directory will be served under the /media URL.
  • navigation is where navigation menus are defined. Typically, you’ll find at least a menu file named “default.json” under this directory, but there may be others, as needed.
  • logs is where logs are written by the system, if configured this way in the site’s settings.json file under the “winston-logger” section, with a new file per day. You may have to manually create that folder.
  • index is where index files get stored, if the site uses any search indexes, and if the indexing provider is the file index provider.

I’ll detail in future posts and documentation topics what goes into each of those files and folders, but hopefully this should give you a good idea of where to find things in a DecentCMS web site. If you want to see real examples, I made the repositories for my two current DecentCMS web sites (decentconsulting.com and decentcms.org) publicly available on Github:

  1. Decent Consulting: https://github.com/DecentCMS/DecentConsulting
  2. DecentCMS: https://github.com/DecentCMS/DecentCMS-WebSite

You can even clone those repositories into your DecentCMS installation and experiment with them as sample sites.

One thing that you may notice if you’ve used Orchard is that all the files for a given web site, including media and logs, can be found under a single folder. That means that deploying a site is as simple as deploying the site’s folder.


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