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Comparing TYPO3 with phpWebSite
updated by rck, 2006-03-25

I've been using phpWebSite for about a year now and think that it can be adapted to most content management needs. TYPO3 is leading the open source CMS market right now and has very powerful features no other CMS can offer.

Still, I think phpWebSite is the better choice most of the times. I will show you why.


create pages in typo 3
create pages

TYPO3 has a very strong content orientation. It's basically one monolithic piece of software that can do tons of things. If you visit a TYPO3-driven site, you probably won't even notice it. It will look (more or less) like a well structured homepage to you.

Editing and creating content always happens in the site administrator. You have the so called “rich text editor”, where you can edit your pages after you defined a site structure. Prior to editing content, you have to create the page.

The central item for webpage administration in TYPO3 is the sitemap. TYPO3 is like a toolbox full of stuff. Editing pages is one tool, creating them another one. The access list is another tool and so is page ordering and preview.

There's also an asset manager, extension manager, task manager (todo list) and even an adapted copy of phpMyAdmin included. If you can handle the steep learning-curve of TYPO3, you have a truly powerful tool in your hands.


Controlpanel of the current developement release
control panel

phpWebSite differs from Typo3 in a lot of points. It's not monolithic at all. In fact, the file core/Core.php with the most basic methods implemented is only a bit over 500 lines long in the current 0.10 release. phpWebSite is module-oriented.

A module consists of a couple of defined files. Some of them include boost.conf with versioning info, controlpanel.conf with information about the control panel commands and icons, index.php with the module-dispatcher and so on.

Core modules include users for user administration, approval for content approval, language for supporting a multi-language interface, search for site / modulewide search, etc.

phpWebSite isn't only module-oriented but also object-oriented. Updating any component, except the very core, is as easy as putting the new module in a defined directory and calling the boost-module which is responsible for module installation.

While TYPO3 is very content oriented and good for sites that mainly have a lot of content to present in a structured manner, phpWebSite does that as well. But it truly excels when it comes to community portals that need a forum, inter-site communication and so on.

Unlike TYPO3, you manage your site through the control panel. You can move boxes freely within the site -- customizing TYPO3 isn't nearly as straight forward. There's no extra administration-tool.

Customizing Typo 3

template manager
template manager

Customizing it is one of my biggest problems with TYPO3. If you are very patient, you can probably do nice stuff with it. I, on the other hand, want fast results.

Customizing things in TYPO3 involves a lot of steps, which are partially guided by the GUI seen in the graphic.

For an average site-page template, you define frame size and offset, menu offset, logo, background-image and colours of link, text and the horizontal bar.

That's about it, you have your template.

Customizing phpWebSite

move boxes in phpWebSite
move boxes

phpWebSite differs a lot from TYPO3's template concept. A very important concept here is called “Theme”. A theme is a directory full of templates for modules. If you leave out a template, the module default template is taken.

There's no template manager. Users can (if allowed to) chose their favourite theme and the site admin can move around content boxes.

Every Module allocates one or more boxes via the layout.conf, which is transparent to the user. Every box can have its own boxstyle, depending on the selected theme.

The big difference between TYPO3 and phpWebSite is: In TYPO3, you can edit your template through a web-interface. In phpWebSite you can't. Actually, I think this is a big plus for phpWebSite. Why?

For phpWebSite, there are a lot of free themes. I haven't found a free template-set for TYPO3 on the other hand yet. An average Webdesigner is faster creating actual files for you than clicking one together in the template manager. He can use for example Dreamweaver, an professional HTML-Editor, to create templates.

In TYPO3 on the other hand, you have a screen full of options. If there's no option for it, you're out of luck. You can't edit templates directly. This is a big restriction for designers.

And honestly: I haven't figured out yet how to change that green, ugly sport site that ships with TYPO3 yet. I didn't find any documentation either, feel free to leave URLs in the comments area for me.

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  • Wonderful Article and Well Illustrated

    Posted on 2005-03-06 17:54:31 By Anonymous

    Thanks for creating that, Rck!

    Bobby Kennedy

    [Reply ]

  • phpwebsite vs typo3

    Posted on 2005-03-07 19:09:46 By Anonymous

    I tried typo3 myself on a windows box and i mostly agree with you. I did not encounter any install problems though. I gave up typo3 because i found it hard to manage and configure. I am sure it has a lot of possibilities, but i got lost many times.

    What i did like on typo3 was the instant module extensions, where one could ad modules the installation direct form the typo3 website. Cool feature! Also i find, altough not always complete, that typo3 has an extensive documetation library.
    Also nice: Kasper took the effort to make some informative training video's.

    As said before i agree with your conclusions, bud i regret that you incorporated Jesus in your evaluation.


    [Reply ]

    • Re: phpwebsite vs typo3

      Posted on 2005-03-07 23:24:45 By rkennedy[2]

      If Jesus assumed human form, I'm sure he has a sense of humor as well.



      [Reply ]

    • Why Jesus?

      Posted on 2005-03-08 07:32:49 By rck[110]

      You know, I had my objections about including Jesus into my article myself. Still, I guess I took the right approach about that. Why?

      I am in fact not a very believing person. It's less of a Jesus but more of a church thing. Here in Austria, the catholic church doesn't have a very good standing. More and more people bail out of it, it has very bad media at times.

      The big issue I am having is the “it's all my fault” thing about the catholic church. It makes people feel guilty. And that's bad. Very bad.

      Also, I respect Kaspers decision to follow Jesus' life as good as possible. What I don't like though is, that there are, as I wrote, tons of Jesus images in the installer. It must have offended me the same way my Article is offending you.

      I can't stand looking at Jesus' poor looking face. Of course one has always the choice of not using Typo3. But I for one did not know that there are any Jesus images at all in Typo3. And thus I'd rather like people to see my article as a notice. Nothing more and nothing less.

      [Reply ]

      • Jesus part rewritten

        Posted on 2005-03-08 19:59:24 By rck[110]

        changed On 2005-03-08 19:59:44 Edited By rck (reason: rewriten -> rewritten)

        As there were a lot of people more or less complaining about that part, I've completely rewritten that part. I've also added a bit more information about the installer to make up for it.

        [Reply ]

        • Re: Jesus part rewritten

          Posted on 2005-03-08 21:12:24 By thimscool[1]

          I think you got it now, except that Kaspar is evidently a "personal Christian", which is probably not Catholic!

          Anyway, I think it is all much ado about nothing. I like Bobby's comment.

          Your site is very cool. I will be looking into this Health Module...

          [Reply ]

    • Documentation and other things

      Posted on 2005-03-08 07:38:17 By rck[110]

      I must agree with you here. Kasper did an amazing job with the documentation of Typo3. It seems very complete to me and there are also 3rd party manuals available.

      Most open source products, including phpWebSite are unable to offer nearly as much. And I understand that even phpWebSite is not as intuitive as one might like it to be.

      Also, I think that the phpWebSite concept of boost is nice. But it can be improved. I already made a feature request for a packet manager / remote installation long ago. Nobody implemented it yet, though.

      It should be actually quite possible to simply list a text file that has been parsed by boost, click on one of the items, download it and install it. The technology is there but lacking polish.

      The same is true for approval, multi-language, etc. etc. The good news is, that the current developement release of phpWebSite will include versioning amongst other things.

      [Reply ]

  • Links a little confusing

    Posted on 2005-03-08 03:52:54 By Anonymous

    At first I was confused by the link section because the links themselves are the section titles. I kept hitting the links in the sections and getting sites that don't run phpWebSite! Then I realized what was up.

    You may want to explicitly link in the section content too.

    Very nice article. There are a few English issues, but I take it this is not your first language? If not, you have done extremely well.

    I am curious why you regard Typo3 as the one to beat, though? I think Mambo is the one to beat, but I guess it depends on what you are tryng to achieve. Is there a site that collects statistics of how many installations of CMS's are in use?

    Again, very nice work. I will probably link here from my site. I also wrote an article about phpWebSite. Link is available here:


    [Reply ]

    • Primary language

      Posted on 2005-03-08 07:23:01 By rck[110]

      My primary language is actually german, you are right :-) Thank you for your nice words, Bobby Kennedy already gave my article an overhaul and I will edit mine to reflect his changes soon.

      If you have any further suggestions about improving the article, I'll have an open ear for you.

      [Reply ]

    • Why Typo3?

      Posted on 2005-03-08 07:26:01 By rck[110]

      From a conceptual point of view, you are right. phpWebSite and Typo3 have different goals. One would probably want to compare phpWebSite with e107, Xoops, Mambo, Xaraya, Postnuke, etc.

      Still, I made the experience that for most people having something that they can edit stuff online with and Typo3 are the same thing. I wanted to point out that there is actually a different way of doing things than Typo3, and phpWebSite isn't the worst of them.

      [Reply ]

    • Re: Links a little confusing

      Posted on 2005-03-08 07:44:47 By rck[110]

      changed On 2005-03-08 07:46:37 Edited By rck (reason: )

      You are right. I've changed that, thank you for your suggestion!

      And your site is very good looking, I like your writing style.

      [Reply ]

  • My organization is looking at these 2 CMS systems

    Posted on 2005-03-11 21:16:00 By Anonymous

    Hi. Great job!!!!! It just so happens that I have used phpwebsite personally for over a year on some half dozen sites. Loved it after going thru Mambo, Drupal, Xoops, and some others. phpwebsite is in my opinion the best, most stable (in terms of being developed and used by a university), and easiest to modify (love the themes:-)
    However, I work for a government agency in Florida USA and we are going to remake all our websites (4) and intranet site (1) using CMS. I am team leader of my group, so I can use open source or whatever I want. Well, of course I thought phpwebsite would be a natural, since I know it so well. I did start an extensive online search to double check that Mambo or something else hadn't overtaken phpwebsite in soem critical way - that is when I found out about typo3. Now I am still doing testing and having some of my team do their own testing - but typo3 from our standpoint of a "place of business/government" seems to have some big advantages. I am really leaning toward it right now, mainly because it can make some REALLY complex website structures that I don't see easily replicated with phpwebsite or others like it. We have have a staff team structure, as well as jurisdictions (geographic zones basically), and other complex ways of organizing all our sites and stuff (content :-( here. I am "forced" in many ways to build often illogical structures here based on these institutional restrictions, unlike my own free flowing and "easy-to-use" personal site designs. typo3's tree structure seems better suited to sites that need very complex depth and organization.
    I have used phpwebite's category system on my own sites and loved it, but typo3 seems to have a system more flexible along the lines of Drupal. BTW, Drupal has always come back to me as probably the most powerful of the open sourtce CMS packages out there - but how difficult to change a logo or other simple task.
    The other thing that I have to contend with is mySQL verses other database systems. We do lots of GIS work here and run something called SDE (from ESRI) using mssql. Well, of course virtually no open source CMS supports other databases. I understand the reasoning, but typo3 has atleast the dream of database abstraction discussed on its site. I think we can make a cleaner module that accesses mssql databases (while keeping mysql as the main CMS database for "normal" CMS functions). This is an area where more institutional users would have an interest that a "regular" CMS users (like my personally) who is loading phpwebsite, or XOOPS, or other cms using fantastico on a hosting service.
    BTW, I did not have any real problems loading typo3 on one of our own Linux servers here at work. Of course, I have no restrictions on memory usage (had to boost apache2 memory limit from 8Mb (12Mb for phpwebiste) to 25 Mb for typo3. I use Mepis distro of Linux, which is terrific AND is Debian, so getting typo3 was easy.
    Sorry this is so long. I will update our progress later. Thansk again! Jamie
    PS I can always fall back on phpwebsite if typo3 is a bust ;-)

    [Reply ]

  • INSO site

    Posted on 2005-03-30 13:20:49 By Anonymous


    I clicked on the INSO site and found some good stuff that isn't on the page you have hosted here. Particularly I was interested in the way they have done the people/publications pages. Plus, they seem to have a kind of url rewrite that is different that what i've seen. Do you have any pointers to where I might find ways of implementing those things in my site? I'm actually working on a similiar academic department site.

    [Reply ]

    • Re: INSO site

      Posted on 2005-04-01 02:07:16 By rck[110]

      changed On 2006-03-26 19:02:22 Edited By rck (reason: )

      Hey Anonymous,

      to which INSO site are you referring? The current one with static html pages? Our new prototype based on phpWebSite as seen in the reference section of this article? Or the old protype, based on Typo 3?

      Also, which one of the three do you like most and why? smile

      [Reply ]

  • Little comment about Typo3

    Posted on 2005-04-12 21:15:03 By Anonymous


    In your article you stated you couldn't find a way to change the ugly green template.
    I think this comment isn't fair. On the typo3 site they tell you to read certrain documentation in order. These documents teach you the basics and also tell you how to create your templates.

    For the rest I agree. It is very powerfull, but also overwelming in it's complexity.

    kind regards,
    Ton van der Pol

    [Reply ]

    • Re: Little comment about Typo3

      Posted on 2005-04-12 22:55:40 By rck[110]

      Thank you. There's also some kind of different approach to templates available in Typo3, I figured out. I knew of the tutorials while I was doing this article. But ---

      they didn't work for me. On the one hand, the pages timed out. And when they didn't I had a hard time understanding the tutorial.

      I think Typo3 could need a couple of (free!) template-sets delivered with it and a very basic template-switcher. Like in phpWebSite, where you (used :-() to have a bunch of themes. And could select them in the layout manager.

      Even now, where you can download the themes from the community-site, it's 100 : 1 compared to Typo3. I don't know whether I'm being unfair. But I'm biased, no doubt. And it is a very subjectiv article, that seems to touch a lot of people.

      [Reply ]

      • Re: Little comment about Typo3

        Posted on 2005-05-06 23:47:49 By Anonymous

        Changing templates is quite easy. This is my approach:
        1 - Design a HTML and CSS layout in a standard editor (I personally use Programmer's NotePad 2). Once I have the basic layout done it is on to step 2.

        2 - Insert placeholders for Typo3 content items which are pretty straight forward (###CONTENT###, ###LEFTNAV###, ###TOPNAV##, etc). Check out

        3 - Upload the template (html and css files) to a folder in the /fileadmin/ area of the site.

        4 - Next you have to create a Template in Typo3 that references your HTML/CSS template. This is done by selecting the root file of your site structure, click Create Content, and select Template. (For instructions on the format of Typo3's internal template, checkout )

        5 - Once your original template is uploaded, and you have a template in the tree root that tells Typo3 what HTML/CSS file to use, you should have a functioning new site.

        Figured I would spare you from any more, but the hardest part really is understanding the Typo3 internal template. has some good info/examples on that. You can even edit the internal template from the default "green" template and that should help you to figure out how things work.

        Kevin L.

        [Reply ]

  • Typo3 vs PHPWebsite

    Posted on 2005-09-20 00:12:53 By Anonymous

    I was looking at Typo3 for my church as well (Currently PHPWebsite is being used there). I found that Typo3 is too much for the average person to understand. All they really need to do is be able to add content. The reason that I was (and still am) looking for another CMS is because of the 3 column cookie-cutter limitation that PHPWebsite imposes. I did find a way around it but it is a hack that i fear will be more of a maintenence nightmare than it's worth.

    The search continues...

    [Reply ]

    • Re: Typo3 vs PHPWebsite

      Posted on 2005-11-09 04:04:29 By Anonymous

      I just wanted to start off by saying that it was a mistake to compare Typo3 to PhpWebSite. They are not in the same class. Typo3 is Enterprise class while PhpWebSite is Hobbiest class. No multimillion dollar business would be cought dead using a Nuke variant. I agree that Typo3 is very hard to learn but so is most things that are powerful. I am really tired of people complaining that there is too much hacking needed to work with Typo3. If you are not a programmer, then you have no business creating web sites. This is a programmers playground. If you are too afraid to pop the hood, then you shouldn't be driving the car.

      I couldn't agree more about the Catholic church. When your worship service is geared around Mary and Idols, than there is something seriously wrong. But just because you had a bad experience with one church, that doesn't dispell the truth about Jesus Christ. He is real and you should open your bible and discover him. Find a church that focus's on Christ and nothing else. is a great place to start.

      [Reply ]

      • Re: Typo3 vs PHPWebsite

        Posted on 2006-07-21 16:18:48 By Anonymous

        "If you are too afraid to pop the hood, then you shouldn't be driving the car. "

        and then the evangelism

        First of websites are not techies playgrounds(just as cars are for transportation), they display content, sell products etc.

        as for religion, it's all based on faith. Some people like the spagettie and meatballs guy

        you sound like you are about 12.

        my 5 cents

        [Reply ]

      • Re: Typo3 vs PHPWebsite

        Posted on 2007-02-23 17:32:24 By rck[110]

        changed On 2007-02-23 17:35:23 Edited By rck (reason: )

        > I just wanted to start off by saying that it
        > was a mistake to compare Typo3 to PhpWebSite.
        > They are not in the same class. Typo3 is
        > Enterprise class while PhpWebSite is
        > Hobbiest class.

        And both maintain content. It's like comparing apples with oranges -- in a fruit comparison.

        Using phpWebSite for a whole college is "just" a hobby?

        [Reply ]

      • Re: Typo3 vs PHPWebsite

        Posted on 2008-05-26 22:00:10 By Anonymous

        Without having read possible replies that may follow: "CMS" does not stand for "programmers playground". If you´d earn money as a programmer, you´d know customers - these are the one who pay. Everything else indeed is "playground", and Typo3´s nothing for nice playing. But unfortunately you´re right, it´s adapted by those regarding themselves to be top geeks. That´s why tons of docu are just time consuming.

        [Reply ]

  • Typo3

    Posted on 2006-08-28 17:51:10 By Anonymous

    I found it easy after a little time how to create content.
    of course, it's a little structured, but straightforward.
    - create page and give it a name (which will be automatically used to create the navigation menus)
    - create a content object (usually a text with imge). you can even change your mind while writing the content, the input fields will be updated (e.g.: you chose 'text', wrote your text, then you decide to add an image, you just switch the content type to 'text w image' !)
    - that's it !

    ofc, you have plenty of editing options (texts, headers etc) and a cool thing is the image management (one reason I chose typo3: you can define for an image: its size, set some effects/frame, and for it to be a link, or a thumbnail.

    Also, I'm not quite sure about saying that typo3 is not object oriented. in my example above, you can select the text objet and move it before or after other content objects. you can even "copy/cut & paste" to other parts of your site.

    another great thing in the last version: multilanguage site: once a page created, the typo3 interface let you copy its content, you make the translation and that's it. you've got your page in another language but you don't have to bother about the links, or how to switch from a language to another while browsing (granted, I searched a while on how to make the little country flags work ! ;).

    Problems are, as said: defining the templates and be acquainted with the typoScript language if you want to adapt things to your taste, having the time and patience to read the documentations ! ;)

    About Kasper's faith:
    I'm not Christian myself, but what he said is just that he had a deep faith and that if he was a gifted programmer, then he felt compelled to use his best of abilities to make a good stuff.

    I respect Kasper when he states that he just took the time needed top make typo3 like he wanted it, without any time frame, and that he wanted it openSource and free. And for a piece of software of business-level, that's a pretty rare behaviour.

    [Reply ]

  • John 3:16

    Posted on 2006-10-18 20:14:06 By Anonymous

    Just wanted to point out that John 3:16 has nothing to do with "how nobody gets through the pearly gates without being Christian”.

    This is actually an extremely well known verse that says "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son". It's about how God sent Jesus to the world to be sacrificed for the world's sin.

    Otherwise, good article on TYPO 3 and phpWebSite

    [Reply ]

  • Check the facts

    Posted on 2007-02-23 15:11:25 By Anonymous

    Go to
    check the boxes for phpWebsite and TYPO3 and submit.

    And then ask yourself, why the left column is almost red ;-)

    [Reply ]

    • Re: Check the facts

      Posted on 2007-02-23 17:29:29 By rck[110]

      Is it really always about the features? Why can't I take my Porsche Carrera for an offroad-trip? Why can't my chopper bike go 300 km/h?

      How many ways of e.g. creating themes/designs do you have in Typo3? In phpWebSite, there is only one, so everyone is talking about the same thing.

      Did you know that there are at least 24 modules for content alone (I'm not talking e.g. about showing the current weather) for phpWebSite?

      [Reply ]

  • Typo3 not only open source

    Posted on 2007-04-16 09:39:04 By Anonymous

    The thing I love about TYPO3 is that is open. You are not bound to strict (HTML)template structures. You can create your own content elements. You can customize everything - even the backend.
    The part I hated TYPO3 is that it is hard to learn in the beginning. I disagree that is has a steep learning curve. First the curve is very flat, because you misunderstand things - like the green template - maybe because you search too much within the filesystem - until you break the knot.
    After that the curve gets very steep - and you learn a lot in one go. After that period it becomes flat again. That is the time you start diving deeper in the material. Write your own extensions, make complex Typoscript setups and try to bend the output of your content ...

    I love T3 and won't miss learning it

    [Reply ]

  • Typo3..

    Posted on 2007-07-27 05:48:06 By Anonymous

    Typo3 is quite a tool. I learned it back in 2005 and find I continue to use it for new sites I develop ... why? Because its very flexible. It has a great separation of design and content and it is very easy for me to teach to content editors/creators on how to use the system. As a result, the system promotes true separation of job tasks.

    I can have a designer develop to overall look, I can hack away at typoscript and interface the design with Templaviola, an administrator can setup user accounts and rolls (let it be workflow policies or group restrictions) and content creators can umm.. create content, publish it, send it for review, have "draft" areas to develop new ideas, etc..

    The integration with GraphicsMagick and GD is also really nice. Its great to not have to explain resizing images or resaving images in JPEG to people just wanting to get content online. With Typo3, they can upload a variety of formats and Typo3 will faithfully convert to a standard web format and resize to minimize page size. Brilliant.

    Given the flexibility of Typo3, some things can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers to the platform. Individuals wanting to setup a website fast with Typo3 can almost forget it unless they use a third party package such as the WebEmpoweredChurch packages which come with up-to-date templates, default extensions and a guide on setting up the system.

    However, the flexibility and capabilities of the system can truly result in very powerful, massive content, graphically pleasing, easy to maintain web sites which is great. Typo3 is definitely a "power tool" and may not be suitable for a lot of tasks .. however, it is nice to have on my toolbelt in the event I need to develop a site built on a platform that is extremely flexible and extensible.

    [Reply ]

    • Re: Typo3..

      Posted on 2007-09-25 02:53:09 By Anonymous

      I would agree with you. Not just making an quick ansver, I would say. It`s a benefit, and a real help.
      So They have their controlpanel. The most wanted feature of the western world. Which seemed to help. Now they are in control.
      And you gy's, you are out of oil.

      not just to be dumb on a dumb site

      [Reply ]

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