Add-In CMS options (like Perch or Pulse)

I realize this question has been asked, but thought it was worth revisiting since the landscape changes so rapidly. I am investigating different options to add CMS capabilities to a few websites I work on. They are currently built utilizing PHP includes for different sections, but I am looking to add CMS type functionality as well.

I am liking what I see with services such as Perch or Pulse CMS, but am curious what other options (similar to those where you insert a snippet of code which then retrieves the appropriate details for the page being called). Does anyone have any open source styles of CMS that work similar to these that can be “added” to an otherwise mostly static website design?

While I am focusing right now on the main site content being easily editable by the websites owner without having to mess around with the HTML/CSS/PHP behind the site, I also want to keep in mind that some of the sites we may desire to add blog type functionality to the site, so not having to implement another solution would be good. Applications such as Drupal, Joomla, and Wordpress fit that nicely, but (at least in my opinion) are a little bit more “horsepower” than is required, and includes the potential for quite a bit of unnecessary code bloat.

Thanks in advance, I always appreciate the feedback from the forum community, it invariably leads me to find exactly what I was looking for (and quite often, in services/features I didn’t even know existed).


Personally, for a small CMS option, I think Perch and Pulse are brilliant. You can have a blog with Perch, too (but not sure about Pulse). There are some other CMSes that work in a similar way, although they are hosted by third parties, like CushyCMS, SurrealCMS and PageLime. There are also other simple CMSes like GetSimple (a flat file rather than database system) that look interesting, although I think you build your whole site around that.

If you are looking at expansion, though, it’s still worth considering a more powerful system like MODx or ExpressionEngine, though you basically build your site from scratch using those.

Yes, I had found a couple different options, but most of them seemed to require that I “build” my site inside their environment. What I am looking for is more like Pulse CMS offers (and I believe Perch works the same way as well) where I can build the site, then designate certain areas as “editable” and the end user would then use the admin interface to change those sections. I’ve found an older “free” version of Pulse that I have been messing with and am really liking how it functions.

Currently I am leaning towards just utilizing Pulse (though Perch is tempting, I’m not sure what additional features it would have to make the additional cost for licensing worthwhile. I was mainly trying to see if anyone had any other options that function similar to these two CMS’s they may be able to suggest.

Thanks for the feedback, I’m taking a look at the other options you mentioned just so I have an idea of what other options there are. I’m a firm believer that you can never know too many different options. And having a familiarity with some of these may allow me to match them with a future project where they are exactly what would be needed.


I too have a need for a really simple CMS that I can add to an existing site. It really just needs to be able to edit blocks of content, but in addition it should be able to handle uploading images and including those images in the edited blocks (and of course it should also allow deleting uploaded images that are no longer needed).

Perch looks good but I’d prefer something that was free (yup, I’m a cheapskate!) I’m also not sure what would happen if they ever disappeared, would my website stop working?

Pulse also looks good. I’ve just tried a quick test and the editor they use doesn’t seem to work very well in Opera (my main browser). Inserting objects (images, tables, etc) seems to always add them to the top of the block and not where my cursor was when I inserted the object.

Are there any other simple CMS packages around that are like Perch and Pulse?

Others were mentioned in post #2.

If this is a non-commercial site, I recommend you check out the core version of ExpressionEngine, which is free on non-commercial sites.

I just tested out PageLime and Surreal CMSs (while looking at Perch). Surreal and PageLime had similar features although I found Surreal easier to use. I did find that PageLime would allow you to have multiple editable regions within a repeatable region, where as Surreal did not, but I went with Surreal anyway for the cleaner interface.

Perch allows you to make inpage templates (I think that is what they call them) and this allows you to have multiple fields within 1 editable item which is pretty sweet. I didn’t go with Perch because I liked that you could edit the page while looking at it (in the other two) where as with Perch you are mostly using a back-end tool when making your edits (which isn’t as easy for clients) - this is why I counted out CushyCMS as well. Perch does have a one time cost which is attactive, but Surreal was only $10/month for 5 sites, which is nothing really - and that includes customizing the interface with your logo etc.

Someone above suggested ExpressionEngine which I tried about 2 years ago. I found it crazy complicated and the back-end was not remotely client friendly. They may have changed it since then though. Concrete5 looks like EE, but you do the edits on screen like PageLime and SurrealCMS. I count it out because it seemed like it would be really tedious to make their in page “blocks” (what Perch calls templates and are far easier to make in Perch from what I saw).


you should definitely checkout Cockpit <snip/> … great to make any site manageable/editable.