Contao Open Source CMS 3.1.2

1634 votes cast

Category: CMS / Portals
Stable Release: 3.1.2
Started In: 2006
Updated: August 27 2013
Native Language: English
Translated To: Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian
License: GNU Library or "Lesser" General Public License version 3.0 (LGPLv3)
TYPOlight becomes Contao
Open Source CMS Award - Most P

Contao Open Source CMS Description

Contao Open Source CMS (fka TYPOlight) is an open source content management system for people who want a professional internet presence that is easy to maintain. The state-of-the-art structure of the system offers a high security standard and allows you to develop search engine friendly websites that are also accessible for people with disabilities. Furthermore, the system can be expanded flexibly and inexpensively. Easy management of user rights, the Live Update Service, the modern CSS framework and many already integrated modules (news, calendar, forms, etc.) have quickly made Contao one of the most popular open source content management systems on the market.

Contao Open Source CMS

  • is technically up to date,

  • generates Standards-compliant (X)HTML code,

  • is suitable to create accessible websites,

  • can be installed on shared hosting servers,

  • supports collaboration with different permissions,

  • requires less resources than comparable CMS and

  • can easily be customized or extended.

Contao Open Source CMS Demo

This demo is available offsite at: Contao Open Source CMS

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Contao Open Source CMS Comments

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Mar 26 2012, 12:58 am
I have used (due to company policy) this "cms" for several mid to large projects. But reading comments below I can't help to think that: a) they are contao developers b) people who have no idea about user friendly UI.

Contao is simply put: admin interface is terrible. Over complicated and convulated. It is anything but simple and intuitive. It takes ages to learn and get your head around, major pita to teach this to clients.

Aside from barely usable UI - it has many great features. I like editable templates for every module and action, I like the tags (although I wish tags were combinable: using resulting value of one tag as a param for another), plugins and modules are nice.

On the source code side things aren't nearly as rosy. It uses its own home baked "framework" that is often questionable, doesn't make use of any design patterns, criminal overuse of arrays, extremely difficult to setup for team work.

All in all it has potential, but only if admin interface is seriously redesigned. Because currently its a major WTF.
Jan 24 2012, 4:08 pm
Contao does not bound you to their own templating system.
For beginners the integrated template system is excellent, for more advanced users it is possible to use your own templates.
I have created various websites with this excellent CMS and Contao will be our main CMS.

cons: too many clicks in the backend to get to the point you want to get to. Solution would be a expandable tree structure.

keep on the good work !
Me and nobody else
Jan 5 2012, 9:42 am
If you want to develop templates from scratch this system is not for you. You are bound to use their templating system ...which may be ok for some people. I prefer to develop from scratch, deciding what to use where and how.
Only my humble opinion ;-)
Jun 18 2011, 10:24 am
@CommentCents said - "Note: it seems like one or two posters below are probably shills for the developer & CMS. It is simply NOT easy or intuitive to work with Contao."

If you do not agree with some views, please be nice about it.
That was my personal review based on my personal opinions and experience, which I stated clearly. I have implemented and administrated multiple instances of production CMS's like WordPress, Drupal and typo3 and more, over a 7 year period.

Indeed, it's english documentation is lacking, it has only a handful of free themes but then again I'm a Front-End guy and all I needed to know was the structure, making a custom theme was easy.

Your points are all valid, but you did not scratch deeper, which means the CMS is not for you.
But please respect other peoples review and don't presume just because it differs from yours, that they are shills.
Apr 8 2011, 3:37 am
* For designers and developers easy handling
* Clear Admin Panel
* Live Update (Paying)
* Also suitable for larger websites

* Almost purely German community
* One Man Show in the core development
* Obvious evidence to the CMS in the source code (according to the manufacturer removed with a commercial license) thereby possibly a security problem
Mar 21 2011, 11:31 am
Contao is nice and easy to handle once you have your hands in.
Mar 20 2011, 3:52 pm
Contao is... CONVOLUTED.

It was developed in Germany, so very few docs in English. The admin area can be setup in English.

The demo seems tenable, but once you download and try to build a simple site from scratch, you'll find 'help' is a joke and all the themes cost $.

I found myself immediately frustrated by this CMS... a good manual in English would help a LOT!

Note: it seems like one or two posters below are probably shills for the developer & CMS. It is simply NOT easy or intuitive to work with Contao.
Mar 17 2011, 5:18 am
Testing it since some day. It looks nice, clean and a mid-sized-to-pro-CMS. Building the site up (structure, content) is more intensive (like in typo3) than in other CMS, but you have more control and the content is better structurable. The comunity seems also mid-sized. The installation and also some other features are not easy to understand for beginners - you have to read and search for many things. The thing that I don't like, is that everything seems focused on the founder/core-developer and GNU - there are comments and text everywhere to underline this; example from the Backend-Login:
"Contao Open Source CMS (fka TYPOlight) :: Copyright ©2005-2011 by Leo Feyer :: Extensions are copyright of their respective owners :: Visit for more information :: Obstructing the appearance of this notice is prohibited by law!

Contao is distributed in the hope that it will be useful but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY. Without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Lesser General Public License for more details. Contao is free software. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU/LGPL as published by the Free Software Foundation."
A simpe one-liner with a Link should be more than enough...
Feb 10 2011, 4:05 pm
Contao is flexible, fun, and friendly to admin and implement. All the skills you will ever need to make a site is css, html and a logical mind. It comes with essential core modules, which isn't the case with some CMS (looking at you Drupal).

It is accessible, standard compliant and has the most intuitive backend. It has one single learning curve, the module configuration, once you learn in which place things should go, it is the same all over the place, very consistent. plus it's quite fast compared to other CMS's.

The community is small but efficient and friendly. It is open and has answered and solved all challenges. I can only speak very highly of it on a technical and communication level.

I've made many company sites in typo3 (few years back) and at the moment Drupal 6&7 and I really miss contao, easy and fun times, less hacking, more doing.
Feb 6 2011, 11:05 am
-the idea of element based articles is the best ever seen
-easy to implement templates
Jan 8 2011, 3:04 am
Moved all of our clients over from Joomla and Drupal. Cutting time develop in half. Most of the customers special wishes can be built in using hooks that the system provides, more complicated wishes can be achieved with building extensions that don't even require an expert knowledge of PHP because database tasks and backend handling is mostly provided by Contao itself. But before you start developing you can check the repository that features thousands of pre-made extensions that install itself using the built in manager.

With Contao I am able to build any design and Contao will adapt. Over 30 websites built now and not even onces hit a limit; I can deliver content any way imaginable.

The one think I'd like is more AJAX features in the backend like drag and drop (which is already in for content elements). That would make administering take less steps.
Dec 29 2010, 11:36 am
I have built several websites with Contao, among them even some multidomain installs. This system allows for anything you want to do, if there is no straight way to get there then there is surely a back door somewhere. But usually the developer has already taken care of the most needed tasks (SEO, RSS, calendar, blog, file manager, intelligent image handling, forms, various navigation systems, PDF output, XML sitemap and tons more...). For a PHP savvy person (which I am not) it's even easier to customize the crap out of this CMS! And it's really not true (any more) that there are not many extensions - there are thousands available already and most are well maintained by a very active and motivated community. System updates are released regularly (appr. every 2 month), with the inexpensive live update feature (10 $ per year/install) it's a breeze to update your system within seconds. The same is true for your installed extensions, each can be updated per click.
The output is barrier free, 100% w3 valid HTML.
Thanks to the built in HTML/CSS framework web development is extremely fast, if you know a little CSS. The whole system is well thought through and logical. It doesn't take much time to train customers (editors, authors...) and you can determine exactly what each user group has access to. Since content is associated with pages,most contributers find it easy to follow the backend logic.
Some agencies have described Contao as a secret weapon in the competition for a pitch, because they could offer better prices due to faster development.
The beauty of Contao is only really revealed when you start working with it, it's the little details that the developer thought of that make daily life just easier (like the "edit multiple" feature). Quality made in Germany ;-)
One major thing I am still missing: native multilanguage support. Though it is not hard to build a multi-language site via independent "page trees", it is quite cumbersome and hard to maintain. So - if you are planning to have more than one active languages - you have to weigh the costs well beforehand or choose a system that handles languages a little more intuitively.
Another con for many: the German community is by far more active than the international one.
Sep 14 2010, 2:44 pm
Contao is great. Simple, easy and hassle-free
Aug 25 2010, 10:43 am
Contao is just a great piece of software. Once you get used to the site structure, it is very easy to use to tweak to enhance.

I like it.
Aug 6 2010, 8:23 am
TYPOlight/Contao is great.

I used it to create a small site for a antique shop. The owner can update and add photos, etc easily. Template creation was easy, even for a beginner like me.
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