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Moving forward with Composr

ocPortal has been relaunched as Composr CMS, which is now in beta. ocPortal 9 will be superseded by Composr 10.

Head over to for our new site, and to our migration roadmap. Existing ocPortal member accounts have been mirrored.

ocPortal 10 will be Composr CMS

ocPortal 10 will be Composr CMS
Dear all,

Our powerful Open Source CMS, ocPortal, has evolved bigger and better during its journey of a decade. The continued evolution would not have been possible without the support and contributions of our friendly visitors, supportive members, well wishers, and our super customers.

Some of our members might be already aware of the news that we are working on the next version, version 10. We have listened to all your suggestions and feedback and taken much of it into account when planning our new version. Thank you all for your inputs.

What we have not yet mentioned is that the next version of ocPortal will not be called ocPortal.

We are re-launching ocPortal as Composr CMS!

Composr CMS still carries all the good features from earlier versions of ocPortal: we have not re-written the product from scratch. It is a major new version which introduces many improvements and new capabilities. The "TL;DR" version:
  • A new name, Composr CMS
  • Total fresh appearance
  • Easy installation and simplified user experience
  • Faster performance and optimised resource usage
  • More powerful, enterprise-ready
  • More control and customisation

We are making this announcement now, not because Composr CMS v10 is ready, but because we need to properly communicate to our loyal user-base what we've been working on. We're not yet giving a release date, but we're basically in a stage where things are being finished and finalised, the "meat" of it is already finished. We run an Open Source operation, without making any direct-income from ocPortal (now Composr), so development is juggled with our paying projects.

The following is a summary of our favourite new features (many more details can be found by those who watch what happens on the tracker)…

Fresh Appearance

  • Composr CMS brings a new look. Gone is the age of having a totally separate forum: we now have a unified header with login options, notifications, private topics, and drop-down menus.
  • Over 350 icons, all retina-ready. We have an icon for everything, and we even developed some spares you can use for your own stuff. We have even contributed new retina icons to CKEditor (the WYSIWYG editor we use).
  • The Admin Zone has a refreshing new appearance. The layout is elegant and simple to use.
  • Create custom headers via our beautiful logo and background art (there are 100s of possible combinations).
  • Dozens of screens have been re-designed.
  • Responsive design techniques, for high-quality tablet display of the default screen.
  • Improved Instant Messaging user-interface.

We took a quick screen-shot of the forum:

Fast Performance

  • Improved back-end performance, via heavy optimisation. Support more users on the same hardware.
  • Improved front-end performance. For example, "output-streaming", made possible via the new self-learning cache. For example, automatic CSS and JavaScript merging. For example, deferred loading of blocks (so the main site content loads more quickly, then additional blocks can load afterward).
  • Internal design changes to make things more reliable on cloud-based scalable-architectures. For example, the new task queue allows long-running tasks such as data exports to be neatly queued.
  • Removal of unnecessary, over-complex or inconsistent legacy architecture that harmed developer productivity.


  • Menus are now (by default) self-managed. Basic usage no longer requires any manual menu management. Pages are automatically added to menus, and features automatically added as addons are installed. More advanced users can switch over to manual mode.
  • The new menus are shared between all the public zones, so you no longer have to worry about maintaining different navigation within different zones unless you actually want to. The automatic menu structure goes really deep too, allowing very-efficient site navigation through both the public and admin parts of the website.
  • There's no separate sitemap or site-tree anymore, it's all driven by the same menu structure(s). This vastly simplifies things, while also giving you more control and flexibility.
  • 15 new page-templates, providing structure and guidance for you to build out your website. For example, a 2-column layout page, or a landing-page.
  • An improved WYSIWYG editing interface (including better integration with Comcode).

The new Admin Zone:

New Features

  • New media API:  post a link to something and the API will try to automatically embed it (for example, a Google Map or a Youtube video).
  • Enhanced content querying functionality (extract and display content based on sophisticated queries).
  • Content privacy controls for members. For example, a member can set their videos to only be accessible by friends.
  • Members can define a separate display name to their username. This is great for larger social networking sites where many people may share the same name.
  • Reference other members within posts using the "@<username>" syntax. It even auto-completes then sends a notification to the member to inform them of the reference.
  • Open and reply to support tickets by e-mail.
  • Support for "infinite scrolling" for almost any kind of content. For example, let users scroll through your news without having to keep clicking "next".
  • Full customisation of content URLs. For example, give a news post a very short URL that doesn't have "news" anywhere in it.
  • Full support for editing content meta data. For example, change the owner of a catalogue entry, or the date which it was considered as added.
  • New field types, and better cross-indexing support between catalogue entries. For example, have a "Model" catalogue entry referencing multiple catalogue entries from a "Parts" catalogue.
  • Define Comcode page editing privileges on a per-zone basis, so that you can delegate control to parts of the website.
  • Over 100 new configuration options, allowing finer control over many things (over 25% more options).
  • Support for non-recurring (i.e. time-limited) subscriptions. Generally better subscription and temporary usergroup management.
  • Support for sending out automatic welcome e-mails to customers at various points mid-subscription.
  • Overhauled quizzes module, with many new features.

Enterprise Ready

  • New content API, allowing better web services integration.
  • Automatically duplicate out large and complex templated content structures using all kinds of content. For example, have a "Species" structure, and when you add a new Species have it automatically create a forum, a gallery, and a catalogue entry.
  • Webdav support, allowing efficient power-user editing, mass operations, and content transfer between sites.
  • Support for temporary passwords, and enhanced password rule enforcement for enterprise users. Designed to meet the needs of our corporate clients.
  • Set up regular content reviews, and accuracy disclaimers - a great feature for large enterprises maintaining a lot of up-to-date information.
  • Segment your audience.  Configure different welcome emails for different usergroups.
  • The file/media library has been re-written to provide substantial new functionality and improved ease of use.

ocPortal is 10 years old. Composr CMS sets the foundation for the next 10 years!

This was the first of five news posts discussing the future of ocPortal. The next post will be made on Chris's blog and discuss some behind-the-scenes details.

Composr CMS has been in development every since ocPortal v9 has come out. We've been somewhat secretive of the overall re-launch because we knew it would take a lot of time and didn't want to get ahead of ourselves. We aren't giving a release date yet because development isn't a source of income, so is sustained by our private client work, and done between projects. Never-the-less, it is a huge priority for us so we are getting this information out now, and pushing forward for a release ASAP.

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