I set up a Manila site (by the name of snugglepants) last night, just for fun and to see how flexible it was compared to Pitas, the only other Web-editable site building tool I’ve used. I fooled with it for about 20 minutes; here are my impressions:
- Overall, not too bad. Or as Dave would say: Neat!
- It cannot possibly be as easy to run a site with Manila as it is billed to be. But I can see that after spending some time experimenting with the app learning all the many features, Manila would be quite a powerful tool for managing weblog-type sites.
- The in-page help was poor. Half the time, I didn’t know what I was doing. Sure, I could have gone to the help section, but I would like to see more help where I actually needed it.
- I got a very unhelpful error message when I tried to edit my page without having logged in. Perhaps a login form at that point would have been helpful.
- There should be more than one choice for an overall template. While you can change the template by editing HTML (I used one of the default Pitas templates…tee hee), there should be more default choices. Of course, I would imagine that one could use Frontier to extend the Manila app and add this functionality.
- I was a little confused by how the messages work. Shouldn’t they be appearing on the front page? Why not? And what’s with the little skull linking to the messages from the home page….surely that couldn’t be more unclear. I know, I know….read the help, stupid. But….it’s just a little weird the way it defaults to that.
- I do like the way that the admin module appears to have a personality, much like the one over at Pitas, which has a whole lot of personality. It doesn’t bore you to death….the tone is friendly and it helps you along. The text is not dry and boring; it was written by humans for humans.
After having used Manila and Pitas, as well as some Web-based site admin modules at various jobs, I fear it is impossible to build such an app that anyone could use. My mom, a very novice Web-user, wouldn’t know where to begin with such a tool. I’m not sure my dad, who is a more experienced Web user and pretty intelligent guy, would get it either. Just my quick opinion.