Is Your CMS Made Simple Website Ready for Production?

CMS Made Simple Basics – Prepare for Production

Preparing your CMS Made Simple website for production is an important consideration for a successful and secure website.  There are two types of settings that will be discussed: 1) configuration settings inside of the config.php and .htaccess file, and 2) CMS settings inside of the Admin Console. And, although the suggestions in this article are strongly recommended, they just scratch at the surface of how your CMS Made Simple website can be customized to meet your needs, meet your visitor’s expectations, and make Search Engines happy.


Rename the Admin Console’s directory
Our first step to make CMS Made Simple ready for production is to rename the directory for the Admin Console. This simple security measure is an excellent way to help prevent malicious intrusions. There are two steps to rename the Admin directory:

1) Using your favorite FTP application, log in to your web server browsing to your CMS Made Simple installation. Find the “admin” directory and rename it to something else. It can be any name using alphanumeric characters and it should be unique to your installation. A random name will be the most secure. For example, we will use, “venivmbk01” as our new admin directory.

CMSMS Rename Admin Directory

2) Once the Admin Console’s directory name has been changed, we need to set the name inside of the CMS’s configuration file. Browse to the config.php file located in the root of the CMS Made Simple installation.

Edit the file using an HTML text editor and look for an entry called, “$config[‘admin_dir’]”. If this does not exist, it can be added between the opening and closing PHP tags. This is the configuration setting that determines where your Admin Console directory is located. Therefore, using the example from the previous step, the entry should look like $config['admin_dir'] = 'venivmbk01';

Save your changes and log into your Admin Console by browsing to the renamed directory:

Use Search Engine Friendly URLs

The next step to prepare your site for production is to use Search Engine Friendly URLs, also known as, “SEF URLs”. This is often called, “Pretty URLs” in a lot of CMS Made Simple documentation and in the CMS Made Simple user forum. This will allow you to use URLs that look like instead of It allows for better keyword use in your internal page links and is easier to remember and publish in marketing material.

Your CMS must be installed and served from an Apache based server or a server that uses Apache configuration settings like Litespeed Web Server.

1) Using your FTP application and HTML text editor, browse and open the config.php file located in the root of your CMS Made Simple installation. Add the following configuration setting:
$config['url_rewriting'] = 'mod_rewrite';

2) Locate the file called, .htaccess in same location as the config.php file. If there is not one already there for you, create a new file called, .htaccess and add the following:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/$
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !\.
RewriteRule ^(.*) %{REQUEST_URI}/ [R=301,L]

# Rewrites urls in the form of /parent/child/
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule ^(.+)$ index.php?page=$1 [QSA]

More details about the mod_rewrite options are available inside of the /docs/htaccess.txt file. Save the changes and try out your search engine friendly site.

Helpful config.php Settings

Being able to see errors and debug your site is important before and during production. There are a few quick additions to make this easier inside of config.php file. Open it using an HTML text editor.

#$config['show_performance_info'] = true;
#$config['debug'] = true;
#$config['debug_to_log'] = true;

Note: the # character comments out the setting. To enable, simple remove the # before the setting you want to enable.

$config[‘show_performance_info’] = ‘TRUE’
This setting will print performance information at the bottom of each web page. The data is printed inside of an HTML comment so it isn’t visible until you view the source of the page.
This shows the time to load the CMS content and resources (0.174121), the number of database queries made (23), the memory used to load the page and page resources (16776448), and the peak memory used (17674224).

$config[‘debug’] = ‘TRUE’
This setting will print debug statements on the frontend and in the Admin Console of the website and may show suppressed error messages.  It will list all of the loaded CMS Made Simple and Smarty resources and how much memory they take. It will also show the database queries made from individual modules, like the News module.

$config[‘debug_to_log’] = ‘TRUE’
This will print a debug.log file inside of the /tmp/cache/ directory which can be helpful when troubleshooting errors from modules and templates.


Update Core Modules

Immediately after installing a fresh CMS Made Simple site, head to the Module Manager and update any core modules listed under the Available Upgrades tab. For example, look to see if News, MicroTiny, or the Menu Manager has had an upgrade released.

While using the Module Manager, I suggest installing the modules CGExtensions and CGSimpleSmarty. CGExtensions is required by many other modules that you may install now or at a later time. Along with CGSimpleSmarty, it offers intuitive ways to manipulate the Smarty Template System and to get information to use in templates and pages. For example, you can use {cgsimple::get_parent_alias()} to set a class in the body of your page that can be used to give a parent and all of its child pages a unique style.

Site Admin Settings
1. Browse to the Global Settings located in the Site Admin section of the Admin Console. There are few quick changes that are not vital but nice to make. Remove the Generator tag from the Global Metadata content . It is strongly suggested to remove HTML tags that identify the software being used. This holds true for any CMS, Blog system, and Ecommerce system. Websites running software with unpublished security issues have been targeted by malicious programming. I can’t recall a time when CMS Made Simple was targeted, but I have worked with other more popular platforms that were identified by their Generator tag and hacked.

While editing the Global Metadata content, be sure to use the correct charset tag. An HTML5 document should use, , while an XHTML site can leave in the default charset metadata tag ().

2. You can set your “Site Name” while in the Global Settings. The Site Name will show up in the metadata title tag and can be used inside of your templates whenever you need to show the name of your site. Because it is used in the meta title tag, you can use descriptive keywords to help your site’s SEO. For example, Team Up Development | CMS Made Simple | Demo.

3. Browse to the Page Defaults settings inside of the Site Admin section. Remove all of the default content inside of the Metadata and Content boxes.
Inside of the Metadata box, add the following:

<title>{title} - {sitename}</title>
<meta name="description" content="{content|strip_tags|truncate:'150':'...'}" />
<meta name="keywords" content="" />

Now, each time a new page is created, it will be propagated with these tags. Be sure the {metadata} tag is inside of your page templates. I like having control over these for each page. This will create a meta title tag that looks like, “The Page Title – The Site Name” which is good for most situations. However, if you need to add modify it for a page, it is easily done by using the page’s options.

The same concept applies to the description meta tag. It will populate the description from the first 150 characters of the page’s content. But, when you need to use a different description, you can do this easily under the Options tab when editing a page.

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Author Spotlight


I've been a full-time front-end web developer for nine years working with design and marketing agencies and businesses located all over the USA. CMS Made Simple has been my go-to Content Management System since mid 2006.

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