Legacy PHP Content Management System


Until 2006 I had been building my dynamic website projects using a combination of vanilla PHP and Mambo CMS. I found myself often having to rewrite a large part of Mambo to make it match a the functionality requirements of my clients and often repeating the same work when creating vanilla PHP back ends. For that reason I resolved to create a reusable core of back end code that I could use as a starting point for future website projects.


Core requirements of the project were:

  • Provide the core functionality common to all if not most dynamic websites.
  • Allow modules of functionality to be combined as the project required.
  • Provide a simple white label front end that I could customise and expand to the needs of the project.
  • Be potentially deployable on cheaper commodity/shared hosting solutions. (i.e. not dedicated servers or VPSs).


I completed version 1 of the CMS in 2006. It was mainly created by combining functionality from previous projects. It used the following technology:

  • PHP 4
  • MySQL 4
  • Adobe Spry JavaScript framework

During late 2006 I began work on version 2 that would use the newly released Zend Framework for it’s core functionality. It utilised the following technology:

  • PHP 5
  • MySQL 5
  • Zend Framework
  • Dojo Toolkit JavaScript framework

Key Technologies Used

Zend Framework

Zend Framework is a PHP MVC framework. It can also be used as a library of individual components. Using Zend enabled me to concentrate more on the needs of the project at hand and less on building out the framework functionality. It provides a large, comprehensive library of components that I could often use to build the functionality that clients required.

Dojo Toolkit

Dojo Toolkit is a library for creating JavaScript/Ajax front ends. It provided me with easy to use and accessible components for creating front end interactive features along with a consistent I/O wrapper for communicating with the back end.

Legacy PHP Content Management System

This CMS was used to power several websites that were developed whilst I was technical lead at a small digital agency. I’m publishing it mainly for posterity and to serve as an example of my past work. I don’t recommend it be used in production for future projects.


It’s designed around a standard Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP stack.


Apache will need the rewrite module enabled.

Apache virtual host configuration:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName legacycms.local
    DocumentRoot /path/to/legacycmsroot/public

    SetEnv APPLICATION_ENV "development"

    <Directory /path/to/legacycmsroot/public>
        DirectoryIndex index.php
        AllowOverride All
        Order allow,deny
        Allow from all


PHP will need the MySQL PDO and GD extensions enabled.

Run composer install to install dependencies.

Rename application/config/config.example.ini to application/config/config.ini and change values accordingly.


Create cache, assets, search/site-index directories and give write permissions to server.

Create Admin and Search Indexes


php bin/install.php -e <admin-email> -p <admin-password>

This will create a super admin user with the alias admin with the email address and password as specified. The initial Lucene Search index will be created.