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What is Contao Hosting?

Contao is an open source, easy to use CMS if you want a secure, search engine friendly, professional website that is also accessible by people with disabilities.

Our Review Of Contao

Contao is a content management system (CMS) similar in nature to WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. It’s popularity is much greater in Germany and Northern Europe, and you will find far more options for support and development partners in that part of the world when compared to the Contao expertise in the United States or the UK. With Contao, you can build a site and use it to publish, edit, store, and manage content and media. It’s licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), so it is free to use, even for commercial projects. It does require that copyright notices remain intact unless you purchase a commercial license. Anyone can test drive Contao without downloading via the company’s online demo.

Contao requires PHP hypertext preprocessor (PHP) version 5 or higher, and uses MySQL databases. It has a built-in rich text editor, TinyMCE and a form generator, along with support for multiple languages. The included permission system lets you set individual and group permissions to every form field in the back end.

Other built-in features include:

  • Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) framework
  • Blog module with comments and feeds
  • File manager
  • Calendar module
  • Newsletter module
  • Full-text search engine

You can use extensions to add functionality to your site. The extension repository includes add-ons such as a CSS editor, a multiple theme manager, keyword and meta tag search engine optimization tools, and image gallery creators. Live Update is a commercial add-on that simplifies updating to a few clicks, with no file transfer protocol (FTP) or package downloads required. It also backs up your site automatically—before updating—to protect your data.

How Is Contao WAI Compliant?

In original releases of Contao, the platform generated Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML). This XHTML output met accessibility requirements set forth by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This purpose of this additional XHTML markup was to ensure website’s built using Contao could be fully viewed and interacted with by people with disabilities.

XHTML output is still operational in current live releases of Contao (version 3.0 and higher). With developments in recent years of the HTML5 markup language, further advancement of XHTML should be coming to a close. In fact, current alpha and release candidates of Contao are adopting HTML5 - which includes both regular text/html and XML serializations. Because of these advancements in HTML5, Contao will no longer support XHTML, but should remain WAI compliant if this is a concern for you when selecting a CMS.

Also, because of new elements in the HTML5 XML serializations (section and aside tags, most notably), the inclusion of HTML5 in newer versions of Contao should keep it on the cutting edge of accessibility for websites designed for people with disabilities.

Contao Server Requirements

The most recent release of Contao (version 3.4) has the following server requirements.

  • Webserver like Apache or IIS
  • PHP 5.3.2 or MySQL version 5.0 support
  • PHP extensions GDlib (for image resizing), DOM (for XML files) and SOAP (for the Extension Repository)
  • Optional PHP extensions include mbstring (for multi-byte character handling) and mcrypt (for data encryption).

Contao has been tested successfully with all major browsers like Firefox (from version 2) and Internet Explorer (from version 8).

If you have already installed Contao on your server and you want to double check its compatibility, there is a script called ‘Contao Check’ that will easily allow you to find out whether your server meets system requirements. Contao Check discovers whether your system can use the Extension Repository and Live Update. It will also determine if your system will require you to use Safe Mode Hack.

Of course, you will want to double check with your hosting provider to make sure the server you will be using to host your website can support Contao before making any commitments.

Final Thoughts On Contao

Customizable, flexible, and easy to update, Contao provides a very competitive CMS solution to more established competitors. If you’re looking for a free CMS that’s got the features you need to create a professional site for your medium or large business, Contao may be the right tool for you. Check with your hosting provider to make sure it's supported.

Contao Frequently Asked Questions

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