Site Publisher for cPanel

As a company, Reclaim Hosting is heavily invested in the cPanel software to drive a decent user experience for building on the web. It's been interesting to see them evolve the product after what honestly seemed like years of stagnation. The x3 theme which was still the default just a few years ago and felt straight out of the 90s has been replaced with Paper Lantern, a responsive theme built with Bootstrap, Angular, and jQuery. I've also kept a close eye not just on the user-facing features but also the administration tools. I love that they openly welcome discussion (and participate themselves!) in their Feature Request area and you can see as things develop and are coming down the pipe.

All that being said cPanel is a big piece of software and so change is gradual and slow (which is understandable) but they have now released a rather important new feature that will no doubt be of great use to a lot of people. The latest version of cPanel includes a Site Publisher.

Image of Site Publisher

Let me start by pointing out what Site Publisher is not. The Site Publisher feature is not a replacement for WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, or any other true content management system. In fact it's not meant to be the primary means of driving most websites at all. The ability to edit or customize is incredibly restrained. Folks who take advantage of it should understand from the start the reason for these limitations and treat Site Publisher as a possible jumpstart to something better rather than the end solution.

Site Publisher at it's core is a series of templates and forms that allow someone to throw up a static website quickly. cPanel will ask for some basic information like your name, email, social media links, etc. And they take that information and dynamically inject it into a prebuilt HTML template and publish those files to your domain. At that point you're free to continue editing the site but would need to edit the HTML to do so, or you could later replace the existing site with a more full-featured CMS like WordPress.

So why is this useful? Some immediate uses I can think of are parked domains. You bought a great domain but you're not sure what to do with it yet. Site Publisher has a simple "Coming Soon" template that you could throw up there with a few clicks. A lot of folks also love https://about.me/ as a destination for a simple Bio Site and Site Publisher has a simple theme that would meet that need. The simple idea is to make it easy to throw something on your domain while you think you through possible next steps.

What's also great is that cPanel has approached this feature in a way that is extensible to web hosting companies like Reclaim. We're able to build custom templates and make those available to our community. I've played around a bit with that and we've already got two themes available today:

Aerial

Screenshot of Aerial Aerial is very much in the spirit of a minimal "About Me" type site. Just a form with some basic information about yourself and your links to social media and you've got a pretty great looking website. This theme is provided with a Creative Commons license from HTML5 Up

Clean Feed

Screenshot of Clean Feed As I was experimenting with building templates I thought it would be cool to utilize Feed2JS to dynamically pull content from an alternative source. A remote blog of sorts. So Clean Feed does exactly that by taking an RSS Feed and converting it to a simple Blog site that updates dynamically. The theme is taken from Start Boostrap

We're making all of our templates available on GitHub with open source licensing to make it easy for other hosting providers that use cPanel to make use of them. How useful this stuff is I'm still trying to work out, but it seems like some low-hanging fruit to domain management that was missing previously and it's been fun to start playing around with and see what's possible. If nothing else it provides a short-term win for someone diving into hosting and domains to throw up a simple website while they start thinking through future plans.