Consider Mura for Your Next Web Development Project

If you’re an independent learner and are looking for a holistic, workable solution to the content management difficulties you face with other CMSs, Mura might be worth an exploration. Keep a look out for new premium Mura themes from Cocoon in the near future, we’ve got some great upcoming products in store.

If you hadn’t heard, Mura is a powerful open-source CMS, that will run on any ColdFusion or Java application server. Mura itself has been in active development since 2008, a good 7 years after Drupal’s first release, and 5 years post the initial release of WordPress. Currently at version 6, Mura is more powerful than ever, providing a stable content management framework for the seasoned web developer. In this post we’ll be highlighting some the CMS’s most impressive capabilities, which we hope will allow you to make a more informed decision next time you’re considering which CMS is most suitable for an upcoming project.

The Fundamentals

As either a front-end or backend developer, you’ll naturally spend a lot of time learning and getting used to a CMS when you begin working with it. Mura makes this process fairly pleasurable, not least by its attractive and intuitive administration panel, which we all know has been a problem with competing CMSs for a long time coming. Mura’s administration panel just seems to make so much sense, not just regarding content management, but content architecture as well. The use of more modern web technologies such as AJAX to improve user experience for developers and content managers feels like a breath of fresh air in a world of ageing solutions.

Besides the admin panel, the code base of the CMS is not overly complex, and so long as you have a basic understanding of the CFML logic, which is fairly similar in many respects to that of PHP, it won’t take more than a few hours to get a grasp on how to put a basic theme together. Mura’s default Bootstrap theme acts as a relatable, useable springboard to begin rapid front-end development with the CMS, and of course this means that the front-end is also responsive out-the-box (as is the back-end, by the way).

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Mura’s codebase isn’t strenuously large either, Mura 6 ships with a healthy 5,500 files holding a combined file size of 32MB, far more pleasant than the upcoming Drupal 8’s scary 16,700 files for a vanilla installation, totalling a whopping 52MB. Though the CMS is lean, it doesn’t feel malnourished—Mura permits reasonably complex modification to front-end output via its wealth of content renderer functions.

Multi Sites and Multilingual

Blue River, the owners and creators of Mura, have done really well at solving real-world content management problems, and nowhere else is this more evident than in Mura’s native Multi Site support. The CMS allows you to easily manage multiple sites using a single codebase, and you can quickly switch between sites via the administration panel and resume daily tasks for each site seamlessly. We found that Mura’s multisite implementation was well-thought, at least, when compared to the solutions available for competing CMSs. You can set up multiple IPs/domains to rely on a single Mura codebase while assigning completely independent content, themes, and configuration on a per-site basis. The way the system handles the individual sites kind of gives you the confidence that if you ever wished to migrate one of your connected sites away from that shared codebase, it wouldn’t be much more than a 20 minute operation. The same cannot be said for competing CMSs, where separating a site from a multisite configuration can literally break you out into a prolonged 7-day bout of cold sweats and rashes from the stress. Drupal’s native multisite configuration works, but only just (as of Drupal 7), but you can forget about attempting such a feat with Joomla, it’s just not gunna’ happen.

The Mura Translations plugin provided by Blue River is currently at version 3, and according to their GitHub repo, ‘includes the ability to export a site and translate it externally, then import the content into a second site’. We haven’t had the opportunity to test this plugin as of yet, but it does sound promising.

Scalability

Anybody who’s managed web content in the corporate world, or at the very least for medium-sized enterprise clients, will be aware of just how strained things can become with scale. Growth can sometimes prove chaotic, especially when you are stretching the limits of your CMS. Mura promises to ‘provide an excellent platform for the most demanding of websites and intranets’. Running as ‘compiled Java byte code’, apparently the same technical infrastructure used by Google, Twitter and LinkedIn, Mura is obviously built for flexibility and scale. The in-built caching noticeably boosts front-end performance, which is of course a must.

Moreover, the CMS is setup for optimum performance on cloud services out the box. Our providers of choice are Rackspace and Amazon, but Mura will work well with alternative cloud services too, Linode and Softlayer are also popular choices.

The Caveats

As with any CMS, Mura does present a few caveats and challenges. Though it isn't a new CMS, the community remains rather small at this time (when compared to its giant competitors) and this presents several limitations. There aren’t an abundance of resources available for Mura development, though there are a few guides available via the official website and their public GitHub repository. You may also find a number of blog posts on external sites with fairly specific guides and tutorials. There is also a very active forum with many developers eager to answer your questions and point you in the right direction, which counts for something, at least.

In Conclusion

Though Mura itself is not a completely new CMS (at currently 7 years in the making), the community at present is still fairly small compared to competing CMS giants, and this does present a small number of limitations. But, if you’re an independent learner, already have a good grip on, or are willing to learn the basics of CFML, and are looking for a holistic, workable solution to the content management difficulties you face with other CMSs, Mura might be worth an exploration.

Earlier this year, Cocoon competed in Envato’s Most Wanted contest for the best Mura themes, and one of our submissions, KEEN, was awarded ‘Best Overall Mura Theme’ with a grand prize of $2500. KEEN also won ‘Best Creative Theme’, winning an additional $500 prize. Our other entry, Expresso, a unique blogging and magazine theme, won the $500 prize for ‘Best Blogging Theme’.

KEEN and Expresso are both for sale for only $48, and include many great features including a Demo Installation Package (Mura Site Bundle), which enables you to install both themes with a ton of great sample content pre-imported, allowing you to launch your new Mura site in no time.

Read more about KEEN theme for Mura here
Read more about Expresso theme for Mura here

We have also launched NRGHost, an amazing flat-design hosting, technology, and service provider theme, which is also available for only $48 and includes a Mura Site Bundle for quick and easy deployment.

Read more about NRGHost for Mura here

Keep a look out for additional Mura themes from Cocoon in the near future, we’ve got some great upcoming products in store. In the meantime, for a more extensive choice of premium themes, check out our top premium Drupal themes.