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App::ZofCMS - web framework and templating system for small-medium sites.


This module is just the main documentation for ZofCMS framework. See "USING THE FRAMEWORK" section below for explanation of how to use this framework.


I have no desire to continue development or maintenance of this framework. As far as I know, I am the only developer. My only ties to this framework is its use at $work and I am actively trying to switch to Mojolicious. For that reason, I strongly recommend you do NOT use this framework. Please see Mojolicious, Catalyst, Dancer, or Dancer2 as alternatives.


ZofCMS stands for "Zoffix's Content Management System", however I prefer it to be just a name. It is a small web framework/templating system designed to be easily installed and workable on limited severs, i.e. the ones that do not allow you to install perl modules from CPAN, don't have ssh and occasionally don't even offer any SQL databases. If you have more freedom than that you may want to give Catalyst a try which, my opinion, is a great framework, not just for web, and it offers far more functionality than ZofCMS ever will.

ZofCMS is plugin based. If you create your own plugins, please upload them to App::ZofCMS::Plugin namespace or email it to me ( and I will package it, upload it, and give you corresponding credits.

ZofCMS currently uses HTML::Template as a module to interpret HTML templates. And so far, I have no plans to change this to anything alike Template::Toolkit.

Despite the "core" of the framework along with all of its plugins being on CPAN there is a helper script (zofcms_helper) which can produce a ready-for-upload set of files which you can simply upload to your server without having to install anything from CPAN on the server itself. See perldoc zofcms_helper.


This section does not say anything useful, you can skip it if you are not interested in what made me create ZofCMS.

For about two-three years name "ZofCMS" lived more as a joke. A lot of people in IRC channels such as #css would ask me what web framework I use (I didn't use any at the time) and I would gladly say "I use ZofCMS" instead of the expected "Drupal" or "Wordpress".

After coding a templating system from scratch for one of the sites, which runs on the server without any SQL, ssh or ability to install any perl modules directly from CPAN, I already felt that something needed to be done. The "perl hashref" templates which I used to make all those products displayed with only one HTML::Template template proved to be flexible, extendable and maintainable and that's exactly from where ZofCMS template format came.

The last site I coded before starting to implement ZofCMS was a private web application which had a message board along with a few other features. Mostly everything was coded from scratch once more... The final breaking point when a few weeks later I was asked to add two sections for file uploads to that site. No, it wasn't hard to add them, it's just that I found myself adding a couple lines of code to the "core" modules that called modules which provided new functionality and those modules were loaded on any page of the site; even the ones that would never require functionality from those modules. That's where the idea of plugins came to life including the idea of "page templates" asking for plugins which are needed only on that specific page.

After being told at work that I will be putting up about nine sites in near future I started putting actual ZofCMS code "on paper". The first "site" was a single page because the content for it was not yet ready, we just needed "something" to be up. I've used the baby ZofCMS (yet without any helper scripts) and was quite happy with the ease of installation. Despite my framework driving just single page being an overkill I already was prepared for anything which is to be thrown on that site and was confident that I will no longer have to hack around existing Perl code on the site.

"What about Catalyst?", you may ask. Well, here is my answer. Catalyst is GREAT! I love it. It's magic. But even on, which allows me to easily install modules directly from CPAN AND gives me ssh access, I spent quite some time deploying my Catalyst application. As I am not creating very large sites at work (or at home for that matter) I feel that Catalyst is an overkill for what I do. I definitely recommend Catalyst to everyone. We make our own choices - I am happy with the ones I've made.


There is a single script. The page to display is specified via page query parameter (it can come from either POST or GET requests). There is also a dir parameter, but it's use it optional. For example, if you are to access framework will convert the query into page=page&dir=foo/bar/baz/.

The "config file" (see App::ZofCMS::Config) is loaded and checked whether or not the specified page is an "allowed page"; if it isn't, user will be presented with a 404.

Later on, the "ZofCMS template" file is located and loaded. This template is just a file with a Perl hashref in it. All keys have special meanings, see App::ZofCMS::Template for details. Some (or even all) of those keys can be specified in the "config file" under several keys which provide "defaults", see App::ZofCMS::Config for details.

ZofCMS template will reference a "base" template (which is a HTML::Template template) as well as several other HTML::Template files. The framework then will run any plugins, fill out all the values in the templates and display the page to the user.



Ok, if you are reading this I can assume you want to give ZofCMS a whirl. This documentation describes how to install/use it from CPAN. I am also planing to put up a ZofCMS tarball on from which you can get started without touching CPAN (for the most part). At the time of this writing that webpage is not yet up.

First of all, install App::ZofCMS "module" via your cpan script. If you don't know how to do that, read This will install ZofCMS "core" along with with helper script. Detailed description of helper script can be found by running perldoc zofcms_helper.


Pick a directory in which you want to create ZofCMS "base" from which you would start working on your site. This documentation assumes that you are doing all this on a local, fully functional box.

ZofCMS directory/file setup is arranged to have one directory web accessible; that one will contain along with any CSS/JS files or images that will be on your website. Another directory will not be web accessible; here you will keep your ZofCMS templates along with page templates (i.e. HTML::Template, or "data") and the config file.

As example we will want our site to be in /var/www/testsite/ directory, thus we go (assuming we are on the system which has mkdir and cd):

    mkdir /var/www/testsite;
    cd /var/www/testsite/;
    zofcms_helper --site web;

Details about zofcms_helper script can be found in perldoc zofcms_helper. In this example, the helper script created two directories /var/www/testsite/web/ and /var/www/testsite/web_site/. The web directory is what we would have as web accessible (containing and web_site is what would contain ZofCMS "core".

The helper script stuffed a single file, into /var/www/testsite/web/ directory and that's the only thing that ZofCMS cares about from that directory. Note: make sure to remove the line use CGI::Carp qw/fatalsToBrowser/; from before deploying your finished site live. See CGI::Carp for more information.

The /var/www/testsite/web_site/ has more goodies in it. Here is what we have in here:

    data        - here you would put your HTML::Template templates which
                  can be references from ZofCMS templates.

    templates   - here is where you would put your ZofCMS templates.

    ZofCMS      - this is where ZofCMS "core", its plugins and
                  any "template exec modules" (more on that later)
                  will live.

In the data directory you will notice a file called base.tmpl this is the "base" HTML::Template file, it will be filled with virtually all the keys from ZofCMS template. In the templates directory you will find index.tmpl and 404.tmpl

Before we proceed any further I advise you to read documentation for App::ZofCMS::Config and App::ZofCMS::Template as I am not going to explain what each key means; it is explained in aforementioned documentation in detail.


Now, let's create our first page. Let it be named something original, like "foo" :)

Open up your config file and under valid pages add '/foo'. Considering you *did* read documentation for App::ZofCMS::Config you'll know exactly what to do at this point.

now go to your "core dir" (which will be /var/www/testsite/web_site/ if you followed (and able to execute) the helper script example from INITIAL SETUP section above. Go to to directory "templates" and create a file named foo.tmpl, in that file enter the following:

        title       => 'Hello World',
        body        => \'foo.tmpl',
        t           => {
            cur_time => scalar(localtime),

Now go to "data directory" and create a new file named foo.tmpl and enter the following into it:

    <p>Current time is: <tmpl_var name="cur_time">

Providing you did not edit anything else in your config file and did not touch base.tmpl file in your "data directory" you can now access your web application and see a page which will display current time. How wonderful \o/


Fork this module on GitHub:


To report bugs or request features, please use

If you can't access GitHub, you can email your request to bug-App-ZofCMS at



You can use and distribute this module under the same terms as Perl itself. See the LICENSE file included in this distribution for complete details.

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