Getting Started With Wee_CMS

Wee_ is a content management system that its creator calls a “flat-file system”. It is extremely easy to use, and takes the place of an admin panel (and all the accompanying headaches) to allow total freedom of both your content and your site design. It was created by David Turner, a developer and designer based in Northern Ireland.

Wee_ is simple for a developer to use, but requires a little explanation when used by someone without that background. To that effect, I’ve put together a little post on the basics of Wee_ as I learn how to use it for both my developing freelance site and my portfolio remake. (And eventually this blog.)

Getting Ready for Wee_

There is one thing you need to do before you even start working with Wee_: have FTP access to your web domain. This is where the files that create your website live, and where the Wee_ system will allow you to work on your site. If you don’t have this information, contact your hosting provider for the details. You’ll be working on your site through the FTP access, so it’s a good idea to find a decent application that allows you to transfer files back and forth. I personally use FileZilla for this, but there are many good ones out there.

Next, go to Wee_ Download and download the zip file containing the folder structure that makes up Wee_. Save it to your computer (ideally in the location from which you will be editing the files later) and unzip the file. You’ll get a folder called DavidTurner-Wee_ with a few version numbers at the end of it. What’s inside this folder is the important part.

Now you need to locate the main folder of the domain or subdomain that you are going to power with Wee_ inside your FTP application (I’m going to call it FileZilla for simplicity’s sake from here on out). The system does not work in sub-folders of a site, and must be directly in the main folder for the domain. If you are modifying an existing site, I suggest you back up everything somewhere else, because the Wee_ install should overwrite everything inside that folder.

The Actual Install

Using the FileZilla interface, copy everything that is inside the DavidTurner-Wee_ folder into your domain’s main folder. These are the folders and files you should see:

File Structure

Now you have Wee_ installed on your site, and if you visit your domain URL in your browser you should see this:

Home Page

Double check that everything is working correctly by clicking on the journal link and you should see this:

Journal Page

Setting Up Your Site Info

Now it’s time to start making the site your own. First thing to do is change the information for your site that’s inside the config.php file. The easiest way to do this (and how you’ll want to edit all your files) is by changing the files you saved to your computer, then uploading them in FileZilla, replacing the old ones. Make sure you keep both your local files and your live site current. It’s not fun to upload an old version of a file and have to make changes all over again! The important things you’ll want to edit are shown right here:

Config File

There are obviously a lot more settings in this file, and you can browse through them if you want (it’s really commented quite well) but these three are the main ones to turn your Wee_ install into a personal version for your site.

A Note on How Wee_ Works

Wee_ is simply a program that takes all the bits and pieces inside its system of folders and organizes them into a functioning site. There are rules as to how these folders should be organized and what files should be in them in order for this to work. Be sure to keep the files in the places they belong… since Wee_ is based on file structure, moving files out of their proper place will break it.

Both posts and pages are created with .md files. These are special text files that are written in a style called markdown. Markdown is used extensively with Wee_ and is very simple to write, if you need a tutorial on using it look here.

We can divide the important areas of Wee_ into two groups. The first is where all the styling happens that makes your site unique, that’s inside the themes folder. The second is where all the content is placed for your site, that’s inside the categories folder.

The Styling

In the themes folder are two theme templates. The basic folder contains a complete theme put there as an example to get you started. There is also a blank theme in the folder called starkers. Styling in this folder is just like you would style any other website. Wee_ is already set up to use the basic theme by default, so you can either copy code into it, or switch the theme to starkers and begin from scratch.

The Content

In the categories folder are three sub-folders called journal, pages and drafts. It is inside these that the content of your site will be created. The journal folder contains a file called that organizes your posts, as well as individual folders for each post you will have in your journal. In the pages folder there are folders for each page of your website. Wee_ comes packaged with two example pages: home, which is the default home page for your site, and colophon. The drafts folder is for posts that you’re working on, but don’t yet want to publish to your site, a kind of holding tank for your files.

Each page/post should be located in its own folder, so you should create new folders for new pages. An important note though: when naming folders make sure not to use spaces or special characters, as it will confuse the system.

Posts are displayed through the file in the journal folder. The order of posts in this file determines the order of the posts displayed on your journal page. If you want a post not to be displayed on your main journal page, simply do not add it to the file.

Your First Post

There are two sample posts already included in Wee_, as you can see from the journal page you pulled up before. One of them is shown below:

Screenshot Post

There is a bit of information that needs to be included in each page/post in your site, and you can see it in that picture, above the “=-=-=”. These are much like data fields that can be filled in about your page or post. Make sure that you always include them so Wee_ can operate correctly. Everything below that =-=-= line is your own content.

Further Instruction

As I work with Wee_ (and break it repeatedly, causing its creator to pull out his hair) I will write more tutorials on the advanced features of the system. These include using multiple stylesheets, changing defaults, and making custom page style sheets. In the meantime, enjoy playing with Wee_!