Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tuskfish?

It's a content management system or CMS (software programme for building websites). It is specifically designed to be simple and lightweight. It provides the publishing tools you actually need and not much else. Think of it as a "micro" CMS.

What type of websites can I make with it?

Tuskfish is suitable for publishing blogs, brochure sites, photo galleries, electronic libraries, audio and video podcasts, collections of content or any combination of the above. Anything where you want to self-publish without direct user input or comment (see below). It's good for small organisations, businesses and personal websites. 

How is Tuskfish different to other CMS?

Tuskfish differs from mainstream CMS in that is genuinely:

  • Simple. There's one form for adding content to your site and that's it.
  • Easy to maintain. It doesn't need to be updated constantly. Stability is a key consideration.
  • Security-conscious: Tuskfish was built from the ground up with an explicitly minimised attack surface, rigorous data validation and prepared statements. There's no legacy code.

Like most other modern CMS it is also:

  • Flexible: You can publish all sorts of different content - audio, video, text articles, downloads, static pages, whatever - index it with tags and organise it into collections. You can extend it to add more types with a little effort.
  • Mobile-first and responsive. Grab themes from any CSS frameworks you like and integrate them with a few minutes work. You can assign themes on a per-page basis. It ships with Bootstrap but if you're prepare to roll your own templates you can use anything you want.
  • Well documented: Every class and method is documented and a User ManualDeveloper Guide and API are available.

Is there anything it is not suited for?

Yep, be aware that only a single user is supported (the administrator). This means that Tuskfish is not suitable for "community" style sites where members of the public can make an account and post their own content. The author considers this a "feature".

But I like tons of features that I will never use?

Fair enough. Try Wordpress, Joomla or Drupal, or ImpressCMS, they're all good.

Do I need to be a programmer?

No. So long as you can manage a web hosting account, use an FTP client and edit text files you should be ok:

  • You can use Tuskfish out of the box without programming knowledge. The default configuration provides a blog stream, where your posts are presented in descending chronological order. It is quite effective.
  • If you would like to use Tuskfish for another purpose, such as a brochure site, or you want to customise the themes and templates (layout), you will need a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS (and ideally, Bootstrap).
  • To set up custom pages you may need to edit a line or two of PHP code (it's easy and detailed instructions are provided, basically just changing the value of a configuration option here and there).
  • Where Tuskfish really shines is if you are you are comfortable writing simple PHP scripts (and I do mean simple). You will find Tuskfish allows you to rapidly build your own custom pages. At heart Tuskfish is essentially a standardised data entry and retrieval tool. You just need to decide what content you want to retrieve from the database (edit the query conditions) and how to present it (edit HTML templates to suit your own tastes).

Is it free software? Is it open source?

Yes. Tuskfish is distributed under the GNU General Public License Version 2. You can use it, customise it and share it with whoever you like so long as you do not remove the copyright notices (it is a copyright work). You must distribute the code or derivative works under the same license.

But the documentation is copyright?

Yes. I'm not happy with the documentation yet, so I don't want people distributing it for the moment. I might distribute the documentation under an open license later on. We'll see.

What themes did you use for

The front end is the Marketing theme from Bootstrap's creators. It's a commercial theme so I can't share it (but you can buy it and modify it, like I did). On the back end I use an adaptation of the default Bootstrap 4 template, which ships with the default install. The login form is an adaptation of the Bootstrap 4 Sign in theme. I'm also using the Pro (paid) version of Font Awesome 5, but the free version is bundled.

What are the system requirements?

PHP 7.2+ with the following extensions:

  • SQLite3.
  • PDO.
  • pdo_sqlite.
  • curl extension + a Yubikey hardware token are required for optional two-factor Yubikey authentication.

Can you suggest a suitable web host?

I like Siteground, their support has been consistently excellent and the price is reasonable (update - not anymore, price increases in recent years have actually been outrageous). Note: I pay for my own accounts and have no relationship with them, other than being a paying customer. I will be moving elsewhere once my current contract runs out.

How can I set up a local installation?

On Windows you can use XAMPP to set up a local testing environment in a fairly pain-free manner. You need to install the Apache webserver and Filezilla FTP modules, the rest are not necessary. You will also need to create an FTP user in the Filezilla section of the control panel. You may see a warning about a missing system requirement (SQLite3) when you run the Tuskfish installer; ignore it as it's actually present. For some reason, the bundled PHP gives restricted configuration output, even when you check with phpinfo().

You may also find it useful to install DB Browser for SQLite , which will make it easy to peer into the guts of your database and see what's going on.

Where do I get it?

Why don't you have a picture of a tuskfish on the front page?

They're not that easy to photograph and not very common here due to heavy fishing pressure. If you have a nice photo and are willing to let me use it I would really appreciate it!

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