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Symphony: The XSLT CMS

Symphony is an open source content management system (CMS) exclusively designed in the XSLT templating language. The goal of the Symphony is to provide a highly streamlined development workflow and allow developers to have full control over their website’s markup, URLs and data structures.

Symphony provides an engine that powers a website, a publishing admin interface for content producers and the necessary tools for a developer to create the web system that will sit on top of the content management system.

Symphony lets you structure your data in whatever way makes most sense for your website by parallel development – authors can begin adding content, while developers work on producing the pages and HTML to display it. This is possible due to the Symphony’s philosophy – data structures are defined as XML and the frontend markup is transformed from XML into HTML via Symphony’s XSLT template system. (More info about XSLT is here.)

This system provides the building blocks for a developer to create features on a as-needed basis during a development cycle. These building blocks are broken down to 4 types:

  • Fields are atomic data types such as a person’s name or a phone number
  • Sections are the logical container of fields
  • Data sources are XML fragments pulled from the database, related and organised by a section
  • Events are actionable logic such as posting a comment or making an online purchase

Developers and designers then can build a website by building these blocks through the system’s web interface.

Symphony is designed to make liberal use of extensions developed by its passionate community of clever and skillful developers who are using Symphony in interesting and novel ways. This lets you tailor the system to suit your precise needs and add missing functionality where needed.

Symphony is fully open source software, even if you sell hoard or donate your project.


  • PHP 5.2 or above
  • PHP’s LibXML module, with the XSLT extension enabled (–with-xsl)
  • MySQL 4.1 or above
  • An Apache or Litespeed webserver
  • Apache’s mod_rewrite module or equivalent

XSLT CMS Symphony

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