You: What's Anchor?
Me: What's Anchor you say!? Why, it's a "super-simple, lightweight blog system, made to let you just write". And it happens to be the platform powering this very website.
When starting this website, I decided it was probably a good idea to use a CMS instead of coding the entire thing myself, mostly for simplicity's sake. Wordpress was overkill for my needs, so I started searching for alternatives. I eventually stumbled across Anchor and fell in love. Here's why:
Features I Love
In my opinion, the greatest feature on this list. Markdown is a "easy-to-read", "easy-to-write" markup language that's great for blogging, because it doesn't require the writer to know about formatting their text for the web. The syntax can be learned in five minutes (seriously), and once you do you'll be writing in no time.
However if Markdown isn't your thing, there are basic controls for making your text bold, italic, a link, etc.
You can add or remove an infinite amount of custom fields to any post or page at the click of a button.
Which is great for including additional metadata in a post, extra fields for a user, and much more. You can access these custom fields in your themes by using
article_custom_field($key, $fallback), where
$key is the "unique key" you set for you field and
$fallback a default value in case the field is empty.
There are now variables too, that can also be used in your themes by including the snippet that Anchor outputs when creating the variable. Some themes use variables by default, and may require you to create them manually in the admin panel.
Lastly is the site's metadata, which allows you update the site's basic information like title, description, primary page, number of posts per page and more. Here is also where you can change the theme used on the site.
I love Anchor's back end design. It's simple and easy to understand. I won't go into too much detail but here's what I like the most:
- For once in a CMS, the navigation is at the top.
- The colours go easy on the eyes and allow you read for longer that 5 minutes without going blind.
What I don't like however is that the layout for the back end is not responsive, I'll talk more about this later.
Anchor is built using Nano, a small micro-framework made by the creators. I really like that Nano only uses Composer to autoload all native files and only includes one external dependency. I don't have anything against Composer, but projects can often get overwhelmed with external dependencies that half of the time don't get used or break when updated.
It's because of Nano's small structure that Anchor is so speedy and weighs in at a mere 250kb when compressed.
Things I don't Like so Much
There are only a handful of things that I could find wrong with Anchor, and they certainly aren't deal-breakers, but could definitely be improved.
Responsive Admin Panel
Again, not a deal breaker, but I would love to publish a quick post from my phone using Anchor. Unfortunately it's not responsive on the back end. It has been discussed however by the developers to be fixed in next version.
That wonderful font that millions of people use, and millions can't see. If you use a Windows machine like myself that doesn't come with Helvetica installed by default, then you can't view it in the browser and because of this, Anchor's back end looks kinda ugly. I could just jump into the CSS and change it myself but whenever I update my CMS, I'd have to do it all over again.
Anchor could vastly improve it's documentation as it is lacking a lot of information and relatively unfinished. However the developers have said that this should be finished before the release of version 1.0.
According to the Github milestone page for version 1.0, plugins will be finished. Honestly I get giddy just thinking about all the cool stuff that could be created for Anchor in the form of a plugin.
I'm really excited to see if the next version of Anchor will fix a few of the points I've listed and what else will be added, but overall it's a fantastic CMS that will continue to power my website into the foreseeable future.
If you want to keep updated about Anchor updates and future versions then make sure to follow @AnchorCMS on Twitter.