TYPO3 Neos – Ready for production?

30 June 2014 Comments Off

TYPO3 Neos logo

TYPO3 Neos is the next-generation open source content management system made by the TYPO3 community. Neos is based on the PHP framework TYPO3 Flow.
There was & still is a lot of hype lately around the new TYPO3 product, TYPO3 Neos, that makes many people ask one simple question: Is TYPO3 Neos ready for production? For different clients, with different needs, for “impossible” projects?
Many TYPO3 agencies ask if Neos is ready for production. We will try to answer, from our direct experience gathered while implementing several Neos projects

TYPO3 Neos hands on - Case Study #1

Naturally, we were excited when we saw the first opportunity to propose TYPO3 Neos as a solution for a small local institution that had an old website on a deprecated platform. The reason we chose to go with TYPO3 Neos was a combination of eagerness to try it on a real world project and also because it really fit well with the needs of our client. Our client’s editors were people who weren’t technical at all, people from the medical sector. TYPO3 Neos is a perfect candidate for simple editor:

  1. Simple editing method
  2. Short learning period
  3. No training required
  4. Intuitive use

Having experience with TYPO3 Flow was also a factor when we made the decision for TYPO3 Neos because the CMS itself is no more than a TYPO3 Flow application.

TYPO3 Neos 1.0 was the starting point for us and during the development we saw how easy custom elements can be created with the power of nodes & TypoScript 2.0. But what hurt us the most was the acute lack of documentation. Finding the right documentation was not a matter of looking into wikis, but mailing lists or even IRC chats on Freenode channel #typo3-neos
That can be really frustrating, but with lots of coffee & patience that can be overcome.

The project didn’t hit us with any surprises and development went really smooth despite that fact that it was a new CMS for everyone involved in the team. Version 1.0 was buggy especially in the backend, problems usually occurred with the editing of content, most of the times exception were thrown if the user deleted content in some cases.
After delivery we were surprised that the client didn’t need any training, everything was so intuitive for him that content was added by editors without any help / training from our side. Impressive.

TYPO3 Neos hands on - Case Study #2

Another project that came to us as a explicit request for TYPO3 Neos, gave us the opportunity to test drive the freshly released TYPO3 Neos 1.1. We must say that the Neos team did a great job making a more stable version, problems that usually occurred in backend were fixed and a great improvement in performance was very welcomed. Also, some new minor features were introduced, like node type switching, which was badly needed for editors.

But the localization & translation are still missing from the backend, although the foundation was set already in 1.1. For now, the easiest way to do multilingual websites with TYPO3 Neos is to use the old fashion way that was used also early on in TYPO3 CMS, different page trees for each language. The TYPO3 Neos team promises to deliver Content Dimensions, an alternative to the translation handling that currently exists in TYPO3 CMS. The content dimension concept is the foundation to work with different content variants and have a very flexible localization solution in Neos. The user interface to work with content dimensions and translations will be part of the next version (1.2).
For example, you can have more than languages, you could make variants of a content element for people ages 13 -25 and other variants for people ages 26 +. This cool features will help websites present relevant information not only by language, but also depending on the website user characteristics.

Getting back to our project, integration of template was easy and even if the website was multilanguage we managed to get by the missing translations infrastructure quite easily.
Since the website was responsive, we needed to target different devices and here our experience with Flow / Fluid kicked in. This is one of the advantages of TYPO3 Neos for agencies that are working with Extbase / Fluid / Flow is that even if they never touched it, it will feel familiar and custom plugins will be no more than simple packages. But most of the time you won’t need dedicated plugins, like extensions in TYPO3 CMS. Nodes & Fluid are extremely flexible that in most cases you won’t need a plugin.

TYPO3 Neos & Deployment

Another aspect that we love about TYPO3 Neos is deployment. Having from the start each website as a Flow package is just awesome, during development and also after. Working with a team under VCS is extremely easy and once you are done, all the content can be exported into a single XML file. No database dumps, we just installed a fresh Neos on the clients server and installed the package, et voila! Everything was working perfectly.

Production ready can have different meanings for different people, but some key factors are still missing:

  1. Translation / localization
  2. Multi domain support
  3. Documentation

Once all the above are stable and in good shape, we can state that TYPO3 Neos is indeed production ready.

Conclusion

TYPO3 Neos is already good for small presentation websites, we are glad to see how easy the inexperienced editors get to manage the content with Neos and we believe that given time it will have a bright future.

We believe in the power & concepts that TYPO3 Neos brings to the CMS market and with the new skills we acquired, we are ready to deliver TYPO3 Neos projects!

Author: Tomita Militaru