SitePress - a new mega plugin for WordPress as CMS

WordPress is the de-facto standard blogging engine and is often used to build full websites. Its power lies in its simplicity, allowing authors to start building their websites in minutes. However, WordPress is still missing some basic features keeping it from becoming a full fledged CMS. SitePress tries to close that gap.

SitePress is an ambitious mega-plugin for WordPress. It intends to turn WP into a reasonably featured content management system. SitePress contributes exactly where WordPress is short:

  • Multilingual content management
  • Site-wide navigational elements
  • Robust internal links

SitePress isn't going to turn WordPress into a web application frameworks. You're still not going to build your next CRM with it. However, for building complex websites which are comprised mainly of pages and posts, WordPress with SitePress work just fine. 

Multilingual support for WordPress

Most of SitePress' strengths come its roots. Its design is inspired by Drupal's architecture, with the jewel crown being its multilingual support. SitePress' Multilingual support boasts similar functionality as Drupal's i18n, but without any of its complexity.

A single screen lets users configure a fully functional multilingual system. It allows selecting active languages for the website, language negotiation (language directories or independent language domains) and theme localization. A language switcher can also be added to the theme, as a widget.

Just like Drupal's i18n module, SitePress keeps different languages in different pages and posts. Each page has its own language and different related pages are linked together via "translation groups".

Site wide navigation

Complex websites require flexible navigation, such that lets visitors know where they are, what they can do and what's included in the website. Drupal solves this with an elaborate menus system. Together with Drupal's blocks, users can create full site navigation easily.

SitePress builds menus for WordPress a bit differently. It automatically creates menu items based on page titles and arranges menus according to page hierarchy. Then, it offers widgets that allow placing navigational elements in the theme by drag and drop from the admin dashboard.

SitePress navigation includes a top tabs menu with drop downs, a breadcrumbs trail and a context sensitive sidebar.

404 errors - not in our school

One of SitePress' hidden gems is its Sticky Links. These work automatically, behind the scenes to systematically avoid any broken links inside WordPress sites. What this does is replace the normal WordPress links, which typically point to the permalinks of pages and posts with links to the document IDs. In effect, this avoids links from ever breaking. Pages can be renamed and moved and all incoming links always follow.

WordPress sites build with SitePress will never have broken internal links. Authors can reorganize their sites without ever worrying about things breaking up. For websites that contains just a few pages, it's not a big deal but it's a must have feature for rich dynamic sites.

Looking forward

SitePress 0.9.4 includes the basics for building full multilingual websites with WordPress, but it still has a lot of ground to cover in its way towards being a fully featured content management system.

Future features will include:

  • Multilingual visitor contact
  • AJAX interface controlling page order and site navigation
  • Multiple admin languages, per user.