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What is FlatPress Hosting?

FlatPress is an open-source blog engine written from scratch. With an interface similar to that of WordPress, it is an easily used and maintained Content Management System (CMS) for your blog, and comes with minimal system requirements.

Blogging with a CMS is the easiest way to handle the creation of new content and management of existing media. Many CMS platforms have both an application layer and a data layer, but some save content as local files and don't use a database at all. Flatpress is  a non-database driven platform. Your FlatPress posts will be saved as simple text files. No need for MySQL or another database; all you need is a PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP).

About FlatPress

Originally created in late 2006, and released under an open source GNU/GPL2 license, Flatpress is free to download and install. The platform began as a replacement for SimplePHPBlog, as a collaboration between two developers who wanted a better database free blogging tool.

Although last updated in 2012, the code itself is widely available on open source project hosting sites like Sourceforge and Github. There also are active forums, so finding support is possible and the project is large enough that it will continue to have an enduring lifespan as long as PHP is a favored web language.

Features of FlatPress

The tools offered are similar to most other CMS blogging systems - and has even been called in reviews "a database-less version of Wordpress." These common features include:

  • Standard web-format compliance
  • Support for Widgets & Simple Extensions
  • Themes & Visual Customization
  • RSS & ATOM reader support
  • Web Cache features for performance
  • BBCode and HTML Tags in posts
  • WYSIWYG web editor for content
  • Multi-site support with sub-folders
  • Backup & file control with FTP
  • Support for multiple languages & internationalization

One big strength of being database free is that the site can be backed up by simply copying one directory. The advantage to being database free is that it is faster to setup, and less resource intensive to host for small projects. However, for sites with thousands or more posts, and user-specific content - database driven applications can be more dynamic. FlatPress is a light, functional framework which is easy to setup and intended primarily for simple blogging purposes.

Customization

Since even the most basic blogs benefit from customization, FlatPress offers numerous themes powered by a technology called "Smarty." A marketplace exists for user-produced themes, widgets and other site enhancements. The plugin system is quite straightforward, and can be controlled through the application or through FTP.

Themes come in a variety of options, changing everything from page layout to iconography and menus.  Many themes have built in Social Network support, and offer backward compatibility with older browsers. Most themes are dated when compared to other CMS platforms though. Responsive themes aren't yet supported, and signal a warning sign that extension support for the platform may be on the decline.

Hosting Options

FlatPress highly recommends using A2 as a hosting provider for the blog engine. As the official host for FlatPress, they install the software for free, and also provide a satisfaction guarantee. Other perks of using A2 include 99.9% uptime, 24/7 tech support, and unlimited resources. If you currently use cPanel and FlatPress with another host, A2 will perform the transfer themselves.

Many other hosting providers will also support your use of FlatPress. Since the only real system requirement is the ability to run PHP4, and that can run on either Linux/Apache or Microsoft. Installation is very easy, it only requires FTP access, after which files are simply dragged into the web directory.

Who should use FlatPress, what type of websites work best?  Single purpose blogs are ideal, any additional functionality would require deep rooted coding changes.

Where should FlatPress be hosted?  The developers of the platform recommend A2 Hosting, but any PHP based provider will work fine.

Comparisons

There are a few similarly featured CMS platforms out there, which use PHP but are lighter in functionality than the bigger tools like Wordpress.

  • B2Evolution - a Multiblog CMS with built in email marketing and social network capabilities. It even offers forum and wiki capabilities. Also PHP based, this platform is well maintained and has many modern themes with Bootstrap support.
  • Serendipity - another blogging engine based on PHP, Serendipity uses the same Smarty templates used by FlatPress and has essentially all of the same features, other than using a database for storage.
  • NucleusCMS - a recently archived project, which still has some active contributors modernizing it to run on newer versions of PHP. Nucleus is also database based, and has similar level of support as FlatPress.
  • Wordpress - the biggest player in the PHP blogging & CMS scene - Wordpress has a far larger footprint than FlatPress, but WordPress also has an enormous ecosystem of plugins and themes.

To summarize, FlatPress is one of the only good database-free blogging solutions for the PHP language, which is what sets it apart from similar tools. Themes, plugins, and slightly dynamic content are all available in FlatPress, but developer activity has been relatively stagnant for the last few years.  FlatPress is great for rapid-installation, and for any project that does not need to have flashy responsive designs.

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