Apache CMS: Adding static data tables easily?

Did you know that the ASF has their own CMS / static generator / magic update system that runs the apache.org homepage and many Apache project homepages? While it’s more of an Apache infra tool rather than a full Apache top level project, it’s still a full service solution for allowing multiple static website builds that are integrated into our servers.

While there are plenty of great technical CMS systems, when choosing a system for your company, many of the questions are organizational and deployment related. How easy is it for your IT team to manage the core system? How easy is it for various teams (or projects) to store and update their own content, perhaps using different templates in the system? How can you support anonymous editing/patch submission from non-committers? Does it support a safe and processor-respectful static workflow, minimizing the load on production servers while maximizing backups? And how can you do all this with a permissive license, and only hosting your own work?

The Apache CMS – while a bit crufty – supports all these things (although the infra peeps might argue about the maintenance part!) Everything’s stored in SVN, so restoring a backup or bringing the production server back is just checking the tree out again. Many projects use a Markdown variant, although some projects configure in their own static generator tools. The web GUI, while sparse, does have a great tutorial for submitting anonymous patches to Apache websites.

(UPDATE: the long-term plan in 2017 is to migrate to a simpler pubsub system that will support either svn or git repositories.)

My question is: what’s the simplest way to have an apache.org top level webpage pull in some sort of simple data source? In particular, I don’t want to have to maintain much code, and I only want to add this data table bit within an existing page, without having to run my own whole generation script.

Is there an easy way to add simple generated data tables from CSV or the like using the Apache CMS system for the apache.org website? I.e. I want to checkin a CSV (or other simple table of data) that certain committers can edit via a spreadsheet, and then display selected rows from that table on an apache.org/foundation/ webpage in some semi-pretty manner.

The first specific use case is displaying /foundation/marks/list/registered, a normal a.o page that will display a data table of all the registered trademarks the ASF owns. I’ll checkin a CSV that I get from our counsel that includes all the legal details of our trademarks.

Bonus points for a simple system that:

  • Can pull some columns from a separate table: namely, projects.a.o descriptions from the projects.
  • Can pull my CSV listing trademark numbers from a private repo (committers or foundation).
  • Uses Python or JS and not Perl.

Note: I have cut back my $dayjob recently, so I will actually have time to write some of the code for this work myself now – finally!

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Briefly, Shane is: a father and husband, a friend, a geek, a Member, officer, and director of the ASF, a baker, an ex-Loti, a BMW driver, a punny guy, a gamer, and lifelong resident within the 495 belt. Oh, and we have cats.

What do you think?