Now what? Deciding on what CMS to use next

Like many others I am very dissapointed that Simon has bailed without even letting us know. Anything would have done - even if it was just "So long and thanks for all the fish"
Anyhoo, it is what it is. I have used the last beta. 5.4 for a couple of sites last year and it seems to work fine. It really does all I need a CMS to do, which makes me especially unkeen to go searching for a replacement yet.
I guess that as long as its not a security risk I can go on using it. At some point we'll have to see if it works with PHP 8 but that will not be an issue really until next year.
I am very reluctant to go down the Wordpress route. I do manage a couple of WP sites and I dislike the whole structure immensley. The code weight is huge. The amount of plugins from unkown sources needed to accomplish anything is large. The sheer volume of shoutouts to CSS and JS in the header is depressing. I do not want to go from a sleek and nimble CMS to a bloated behemoth like WP.

The clients however just do not care whats running it. They dont care that their WP page is over 2000 lines of code while the same thing could be acomplished with 200 max.

But having seen a perfectly good project like Pulse abandoned it makes sense to go with something that is a known quanttity. Just not THAT known. Webflow maybe?

Ideally it would be something that I host myself, as I lease a server. But everything is headed towards SaaS these days. And on top of everything else, there is Wix and Squarespace etc which makes it easy for clients, or their wives/mates/brothers to do iit all themselves rather than paying me a couple of grand.

So if anyone here knows more about PHP security than I do, and wants to comment on the idea of carrying on using 5.4 for the time being, do let me know. Or chip in with your thoughts about the whole state of things.
Cheers all.


Ya, Wordpress is good for some projects. But really not for small, lean sites.

I don’t know what PHP 8 will bring, but until now I've some old clients sites running with pulse 3 or 4 since about 10 years! I only had to screw up a little to make it running with SSL. So maybe there is no reason for a big hurry.

But I'm also looking for something like pulse. Here is a site (in german language, but scroll to the links or translate it with google or something) with a bunch of flat file cms.

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I made the jump to WordPress and the excellent "Oxygen Page Builder" It disables the Wordpress theme completely, let's you customize the site pretty much any way you want, and produces fairly lean, fast code.
Some of the key things that Oxygen does, and almost nobody else:

  • Buy once - use on unlimited sites
  • Very developer friendly - you can insert "code blocks" anywhere and use whatever php/css/html you'd like!
  • Dynamic data with repeaters and loops.
  • Has advanced "conditions" - For example I can hide or show elements, based on if there is any info present, great when I'm using products, or directory listings
  • Has built in "hooks" for Advanced Custom Fields and Metabox - again awesome for creating advanced listings, but also for creating easy edit areas for my clients. I use ACF now on every site
  • Also has "built in" CSS Grid support - easy to make advanced layouts, and ability to customize the layouts at any breakpoint
  • and still works with most plugins - so access to the huge library of Wordpress plugins

The negatives -

  • yes my WordPress installs take up considerably more space on my server than my older Pulse installs, but "disk space" really isn't much of a concern these days
  • I had to learn a new system... I'm still wrapping my head around the "Advanced Query Builder" and I have a bad habit of trying every new plugin that comes along...

I made the mistake of using a couple of other "WordPress Page Builders" when I started looking for my next step after Pulse. Divi is a nightmare, and Elementor is very popular, but costs more, isn't as "code friendly" and just doesn't produce the same results.


Thanks to everyone here for their input and suggestions on alternatives to Pulse now that things appear to have ground to a halt. I've found myself going back to WordPress again simply because I know it can do anything I ask of it even if it does take longer to develop and maintain than a Pulse site. I now tend to use custom data types and the ACF plug-in to define custom admin UIs for my sites which works well and offers my clients a clean interface to update their sites.
Over the years I think I've tried every flat file CMS I could find and haven't really found anything I like as much as Pulse. I suspect that is just because of the time I've invested in Pulse and my reluctance to throw that knowledge away. Anyway a lot of these alternatives you can find on my GitHub page at Most are listed in the 'starred' category.

CMSs of note are;

  • Flat CMS ( which I think was just ripped from Pulse 3 or 4. It is almost identical under the skin but has some really interesting new additions in terms of the UI. If you want to migrate to something very similar to Pulse then Flat CMS will be your best choice.
  • WordPress SQLite ( is a port of the (now old) WP 5.2.2 but uses SQLite as the data store. This makes setting up and moving sites as simple as Pulse. If you are interested in using SQLite then look at forking a more modern version of WP.
  • Hound ( reminds me of an older version of Pulse. It is very simple, has a few rough edges, but does the job if you are just looking to bold a simple CMS to a static site. I may fork Hound in the future and clean it up a bit and add a few more features but I need to find the time to invest in the project.

That's it for now. If anyone has any questions or other suggestions then please let me know.

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Thanks Tim
I wonder if Pulse 5.* actually got built from the ground up by Micheal? Or was it based on something else before that? If he and his team wrote it all its hard to understand how all that development can just be chucked.
I know it was sold to Simon and not given away - so assuming he paid money for it why did not not do more to keep it going? At least continue in its present form for a year or so?
Its a different beast to Pulse 3, or 4 for sure. Much more to it. Who did all that work?

As far as I know Pulse 4 and 5 were based on previous versions rather than a complete rebuild. Michael hired Jerome to do the dev work and although he added new features the coding style was completely different and there wasn't much integration between the old features and the new. It felt like these were added on (rather than integrated) features.

My gut feeling was that Jerome was paid for the features he added and he was the only one who really knew how those features worked. This meant that if there were bugs or issues then it meant Jerome needed to look at the code again (and obviously be paid). I could be wrong but I suspect that the development budget simply ran dry and was then sold on to Simon.

I had a lot of hope pinned on Simon as he clearly knows his stuff and was doing the development himself. I still hope he might find the time to reboot the CMS.

A CMS business like Pulse is a bit like a crumbling mansion. You can buy it for next to nothing but you need to invest the time (and/or money) in the upkeep. Without it the rain will get in through the roof and it will eventually get abandoned.

If Simon still has plans for Pulse he had better not leave it too long or everyone here will have bailed.


Hey all,

when they changed their licensing model (I think it was after version 4.5) I stopped using Pulse.
The framework I fell in love with is Processwire. It is so minimal and flexible. So maybe you want to check it out.


hey everyone. i agree with dirk, after that change i already started looking for something else and since i dont do many project that often i had no pressure.

what i ended up using is Kirby 3 which is also a flat file system. it is incredibly versatile, license costs 100€ per website and you can indeed create whatever you want without the hassle of WYSIWYG editors in the backend. the learning curve is obviously a bit steeper since you have to familiarize with yaml and understand how to build the php templates, but i just love the increased flexibility in the backend compared to anything i have ever used before.

for my pulse websites... does anyone know if any pulsecms version is compatible with php8? if i understood correctly next year most providers are switching to php8 and 7.4 is only supported with extra payment. i tested php8 and the backend does not load anymore, but i was certainly not using the most up to date pulse version (i think i used maybe 5.3)

Good to know thanks. I lease a virtual server from Namesco and on each of my domains I can run whatever type of PHP I want, from 5 up till 7.4 so I have some leeway here. At some stage this year PHP 8 will become available and I can try it out witth Pulse 5.4 but it could well fail. We shall see.

I can confirm that pulse 5.4 works on php8 and php8.1. i tested it quickly and didnt see any problems, the backend loads normally. before i was using 5.3.9 i think, and that didn't work.

Ah great, thank you.