The Plan

As promised last week. Here is the Pixie 2.0 plan:


At the end of last week I submitted an application to the 10k Apart competition. The competition aims to explore what is possible with just 10k of code and the latest bleeding edge web standards (HTML5). My entry is nanoPixie (votes are appreciated), an application that makes use of the HTML5 feature contentEditable. nanoPixie is basic but it occurred to me that this finally brings true WYSIWYG editing to the web. I saw the future.

It's easy to accept what has come before as "the way to do it" but things change and on the Internet they change quickly. When I started Pixie it made sense to separate the backend tools from the content. I think those days are over. It makes more sense to work through the front of a website, to see your changes in context instantly, to not have to constantly jump back and forth between forms and a website. contentEditable makes this possible and I am really excited about.

How will Pixie 2.0 work and behave?
  • Pixie 2.0 will be written in PHP and make heavy use of JavaScript.
  • Pixie 2.0 will allow editing of any existing HTML or PHP website.
  • Pixie 2.0 will write/save directly to files.
  • Pixie 2.0 will live in one folder and as a result be fast and small.
  • Pixie 2.0 will not use a database (at least not to start with).
  • Pixie 2.0 will allow direct editing and saving of content - true WYSIWYG.
  • Pixie 2.0 will have a built in file manager that integrates with FTP, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Docs etc.
  • Pixie 2.0 will not really have a backend.
  • Pixie 2.0 will manage users.
  • Pixie 2.0 will support mobile and touchscreen devices (if they support the standard).
  • Pixie 2.0 will run as a service and stand alone tool.
  • Pixie 2.0 will be Open Source and free for non-commercial use.
  • Pixie 2.0 will be supported by a community and by professionals.

Why the change of direction? Well there are plenty of full blown CMS products available and some of them are actually very good. There is however a deficit of simple, lightweight tools that make it a pleasure to update a site. This is something Pixie has always aimed to deliver and with a change in approach I think we can. Essentially this idea is a mash up of nanoPixie and a Pixie 2.0 concept I posted at the start of the year.

I will need your to help pull this off.


One thing this project has always lacked is a team. Sure we have been lucky to have different people come and go but we really need a small team that is dedicated to pulling this off. I am not going to work on Pixie on my own from this point forward. I need your help. I am looking for three people who have the following skills/responsibilities:

  • JavaScript guru - You will be taking the responsibility of building a bleeding edge content editor using HTML5 tools and jQuery. Your code should be clean and quick.
  • PHP guru - You will be taking the leading role in scripting a large amount of the code that powers Pixie. We will make use of existing open source tools and classes as well as building our own. You should be able to handle object orientated programming and have a working knowledge of regular expressions.
  • Community manager - you will be looking after the tools and users of Pixie 2.0. You will need to have a good understanding of all of the code and be prepared to answer questions from Pixie users. During the development of the project you will have other responsibilities including setting up and choosing other open source software for the community.

All applicants will need to have some experience of code collaboration (GIT or SVN), be confident enough to make suggestions and solve some of the big challenges we will face.

I will be taking lead of the design as well helping gel both the front end JavaScript and back end PHP code. On top of this I will be re-branding and promoting the project.

To some extent this is a paid position. Successful applicants will be given a share of the revenue generated by Pixie 2.0. We will provide you with more information on this if you are successful in your application. To help generate revenue now (and make sure everyone begins to earn something ASAP) we are also making changes to the way we deal with licences in the very near future (more below).

How to apply?

The simple way is to get in touch via the toggle site. The more creative your application, the more chance you will have of being successful.


As of Pixie 1.05 (the next release) Pixie will no longer be free for commercial use. We will define the exact terms of this as soon as we can. The general idea is that individuals, students, charities and non-profit organisations can continue to use Pixie for free. Anyone can still download Pixie and trial it for free and Pixie will still be open source. If Pixie is deployed in a commercial environment (that includes sites with adverts) then a cheap one time commercial licence needs to be purchased. At the moment we are thinking this will be around £5 for Pixie 1.05 (and above) and this will rise slightly with the release of Pixie 2.0.

We have also began selling a few of our themes. All the money raised will fund development time on the new project.

It is also worth mentioning that the commercial licence fee does not include any additional support.


For now we will continue to offer community support via Google Groups. Pixie 2.0 will have two levels of support. The first will be free community support (we will also leave Google Groups at this time). The second is a paid for priority support. We will have more details on this at a much later date.


A rough timeline for Pixie 2.0:

  • 15th September 2010 - All applications to have been submitted to toggle.
  • 30th September 2010 - Team assembled and notified.
  • October 2010 - Set up of team wiki and collaborate on specification/features.
  • November 2010 - Design finalised and shared with community.
  • February 2011 - Alpha preview.
  • April 2011 - Beta preview.
  • 1st May 2011 - New website and Pixie 2.0 launch (projects third birthday).

So that is the plan! I cannot do it alone so please consider applying and I look forward to your feedback.

By Pixie Admin Last updated: 10 November 2010, 01:44


Gravatar Image #1 Tony 4852 days ago.

Nanopixie is genius. Good luck with Pixie 2.0!

Gravatar Image #2 Scott Evans 4852 days ago.

Thanks Tony. I take it that does not sound like your cup of tea? Would have been good to get some input from you.

Gravatar Image #3 frank 4851 days ago.

in the same mind of Unify ?

Gravatar Image #4 Matt 4851 days ago.

Wait, it's going to be "Pixie 2.0 will be Open Source and free for non-commercial use." But starting with 1.05, "Pixie will no longer be free for commercial use" How will you differentiate between the two?

Gravatar Image #5 Scott Evans 4851 days ago.

@frank To start with it will be similar to unify. The difference will be the not editing the site through pop up windows. So direct editing of a page. There may also be some kind of template hooks that support more advanced features such as blogging (something unify lacks).

@matt It will be down to the person downloading Pixie to make the call as to if their own site is going to be commercial or not (we will have a set of guidelines published). I am not going to police it at this stage. If people want to see this project continue then they need to do the right thing. When Pixie 2.0 hits the shelves it will be delivered differently and therefore be easier to monitor usage.

Gravatar Image #6 Tony 4851 days ago.

Hi Scott, I'm not so sure about - Pixie 2.0 will allow editing of any existing HTML or PHP website and\or will write/save directly to files. I actually kind of want to help out but if I do; it wouldn't be in any kind of real role, I don't think. I learned a new technique the other week and it kind of changes the game for me in a big way, so I've already made a rough plan based on that for the future. Saying that though, I will have to finish up what I'm doing now before hand so that I can move forward. Thanks for the ask though; unfortunately right now is not a great time for me to be making any big commitments. I will at the very least look on intensely with keen interest as the Pixie 2.0 plan comes to fruition.

Gravatar Image #7 Judith Knight 4850 days ago.

Hi Scott, I think Nano Pixie is amazing as well I'm voting. I copied the code onto my computer but when I save and refresh in the browser it reverts to the original. It would be an amazing app if you could actually save the html file for real when the save button is clicked. Look forward to seeing more of your amazing apps. Judi

Gravatar Image #8 veterinary technician 4849 days ago.

found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

Gravatar Image #9 Carey S. Turner 4848 days ago.

I love Pixie so far. For months I have experimented with different CMS's. Loooking for one that was simple to adjust and customize. Pixie wins big in so many ways. So, please keep it coming. I dont know PHP beyond the most basic knowledge, but that is the direction I have chosen to further my studies. Hopefully soon, I will be able to contribute back to this community.

Gravatar Image #10 Dan Roddy 4847 days ago.

Scott when I saw that you were thinking of off loading Pixie I kinda got a bit dispirited - felt bad that you couldn\'t get money out of it. But this all looks really positive and I think that the roadmap looks good. Interesting that you think editing on the front end is the way forward. For me it\'s one of the great irritations about the CMS/LMS Moodle - when compared to the powerful options in WordPress the Moodle interface seems clunky. Trying to shoehorn an admin\'s experience in to the constraints of the users space just seems retrograde. That said Pixie is a much simpler system (yay!) so perhaps it makes more sense. Not sure that I qualify for any of the posts you call for but perhaps there may be other ways I could contribute?

Gravatar Image #11 Scott Evans 4847 days ago.

@tony I am intrigued about your new technique. Is this going to turn into a CMS of some kind? It will be good to have your input if this all goes ahead.

@Judith Thanks very much! The saving only works when the site is served from a proper URL and in the latest browsers (Firefox 3.6, Chrome etc). At the moment its a "fake" save. The final solution would write to the files.

@Carey Thanks for the encouragement :)

@dan There are already lots of great and powerful CMSs. WordPress, Expression Engine etc. I don't think Pixie has ever really fitted in that category and its hard to compete with such complete projects. I think a front end editor can bring Pixie closer to its original mission. I would love to have more people onboard providing contributions as I simply do not have the time to do this on my own. How do you think you could help?

Gravatar Image #12 Simeon Amburgey 4847 days ago.

Wow! Glad to see there is a future for Pixie and beyond. I really like the idea of helping to fund Pixie developement with add-ons like templates and such. One thing that would really create value for the purchased templates is to have them commented out in such a way that those who are new to the way CSS, layout, etc. are handled can use the comments as a learning and developement tool. This has been very helpful in some of my Pixie projects to have had someone sort of walk me through with commenting the individual files that make up a theme so it makes sense in how to modify it. Some other ideas are to build special purpose widgets or blocks that users would typically need for their site and possibly not having the knowledge to put it together themselves. I would be totally lost if it were not for a few key Pixie users which I am very thankful to have had. The paid priority support is also a good idea to tackle those issues when you feel you can not get anywhere otherwise. Keep it going!

Gravatar Image #13 Tony 4837 days ago.

Hi Scott, I've actually been doing some research on contentEditable whilst browsing the html 5 draft spec. I've come to the conclusion personally that contentEditable isn't the game changer it appears to be but merely a much needed enhancement to facilitate a much needed missing feature in html, that is : this content (Or tag) Is editable. I believe that it's greatest use is for web browsers in smart phones or other touch enabled devices which require prompting when the caret is placed upon an area or tag which can be edited. So that the web browser can trigger the operating system's on screen keyboard in order to receive input. Further than that, I don't see the greater use. To perform small macros such as source editing (I can't see an exact provision for source mode editing in the draft of the attribute,) image insertion, font manipulation (Bold, italic, strike,) etc you will still need to add an amount of javascript to the document to create dialogs and create simplified content manipulation operations on the user's request. Such as; if you want to provide simple WYSIWYG features. Now this is relatively easy in _most_ instances using some jQuery. However, there are certain macros which may become quite in depth pieces of code, which can easily require an event build up queue, event handlers and accompanying triggers to get right. This is one of the reasons why I wanted CKEditor in Pixie. It has a very cool api and plugin system. So it isn't required that it must be visibly loaded into the foreground of the document. The commands to perform any useful macros can be hooked into using simple functions to manipulate editable content. It saves writing code which someone else has already written. They have done it very well too; I might add. contentEditable support was added to CKEditor in 3.4 recently also. The only challenge facing the CKEditor guys in this respect is making sure that their plugins produce semantically correct mark up when the doctype is type is set to HTML 5. I'm sure that will occur once that spec reaches final publication. So what I'm trying to say is that unless you use an api such as CKEditor's to create or use existing macros (Plugins) which allow basic WYSIWYG commands such as image insertion, it's going to be a longer and more winding road to a finished product than if you don't. Have you explored that aspect of your concept yet and do you intend on writing the WYSIWYG tools yourself? I'm interested in your thoughts on it. I'm not trying to critique, I am merely trying to point out one of the big challenges in your design idea because I am interested to in how you plan on tackling it. Thanks, Tony

Gravatar Image #14 Sad Bob 4821 days ago.

Why? There is already a metric ton of contentEditable, semi-free web editors out there (SimpleCMS, Surreal, PageLime, Cushy, Perch) and at least one truly free (Zimplit). As far as I can judge it, they all satisfy your checklist and they all have in common that they are nice and quick editors but suck at content management. Pixie 1.x on the other hand is a usable, if limited, CMS -- why throw that away?

Gravatar Image #15 Tony 4818 days ago.

Hi Bob, It's not the usability of Pixie 1.x which is at odds here, it's the underlying code in Pixie 1.x which cannot go much further without serious contribution. Also the development infrastructure is currently insufficient (Heavy reliance on Google, use of groups, etc.) A big problem with Pixie 1.x is that the code is not DRY :: "Do not Repeat Yourself" - Meaning that, to be able to develop Pixie 1.x's core any further than it is now, anyone who doesn't take several months using and hacking away at it's code won't have the large overview necessary to develop anything meaningful in Pixie 1.x. Pixie 2.x will use an OOP framework (Hopefully) which is very DRY. This means that it is easy to pick up and learn, code is efficient and not cluttered, the Pixie developers join a much greater effort in helping develop the core code with more developers who don't necessarily use Pixie 2.x but who do use the OOP powering it (Many eyes.) As you mention, Pixie 1.x is limited and that's one of the big reasons why it is being discarded. There's also the GNU GPL V3, which severely limits the potential revenue possibilities of the end product because all source code must be made available at no cost. You're right, there are a ton of CMS software projects out there and yes the huge majority do not get _it_ however, Pixie 2.x needs to be monetised so that it stands out as a premium product and not labelled as "Just another FOSS CMS." Developing FOSS can be an up hill struggle if there is very little reward for the countless late evenings, whole weekends and other free time spent working on code. Bear with Pixie 2.0; the discussions are still open and you can influence them by contacting Scott to join the development effort. So, whilst there's no question that Pixie 1.x is good and that there are a whole heap of other CMS projects, Pixie badly needs a core refresh and a new infrastructure to stay relevant as HTML 5 publishing approaches. Pixie 2.0 will be that refresh.

Gravatar Image #16 Mdishvela 4809 days ago.

Well said; I could not have said it better myself

Gravatar Image #17 Ballu 4800 days ago.

Waiting for Pixie 2.0, no database means no SQL injection attacks, no tension :)

Gravatar Image #18 e-sushi™ 4799 days ago.

Hmmm... not free for commercial use is somewhat a bummer, but on the other hand... there's no price-tag published yet either. ;)

Gravatar Image #19 Nuckles 4797 days ago.

Does that mean that even if I code for pixie i will have to pay? If I contribute my time, will my time coding be seen as payment, Or should I monetize my contribution? I see the development with paid pixie to be a handicap. There are so many cms's out there. Giving support would be nice to get paid for. Also themes, which I see is already starting. Good for you, to start this way. But I wouldn't put a pricetag on the core code. We all want to get paid. I understand this. Social networking seems to be a big area too, where there is loads of money.

Gravatar Image #20 Matt S. 4797 days ago.

@Nuckles if you help why would you have to pay? You will have access to the source code. As for payment, it's discussed in the post. Also, according to the post it's too late to help, but so far, other then Scott, I'm the only other person who has shown interest, so I'm sure if you ask, and you are good enough to write awesome code (experience with OOP) then you should be able to help

Gravatar Image #21 D. Hawke 4796 days ago.

What? Nooooo. Just when i thought i found a the right cms, they are cancelleling their concept. I understand why and where you want to move with pixie 2.0 though. I'd say you already have your pixie 2.0, nanoPixie is the best 'in site' editor i have ever seen. This is the second time that i found a good balanced cms with excellent UI, where they decided to drop the database. Anyway, good luck with the project!

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