FAE CMS Review – Another Content Management System

Fae is an open source content management system (CMS) developed by FINE, a San Francisco and Portland-based brand agency. In a crowded CMS market, it is not news unless a CMS offers something unique and valuable. FINE claims that Fae stands out because it is lightweight and customizable. FINE’s claims probably can be taken at face value as Fae is already in use by some of their clients—in fact, the intent was to develop a CMS for FINE’s clients. FINE adds that clients love the freedom of not being bound by certain terms and conditions because Fae is open source. But do its features justify FINE’s claim that FAE CMS with a difference?

What is FAE CMS?

Based on Ruby on Rails, Fine Admin Engine (Fae) is an open source CMS that is easy to customize and configure. Although it is a newcomer in a competitive CMS software market, Fae, according to its website or blog, has been a long time in the making. FINE’s main inspiration for creating Fae was based on the perceived limitations of available content management systems on the market, such as:

  • Lack of customizability. Customers have to conform to the structure provided by the CMS vendor.
  • More effort needed for integration and workflow training than in building a CMS from scratch.
  • Huge effort spent on micromanaging content on every page instead of globally defining content.

So how does FAE  CMS overcome the limitations? Fae was based on the following principles:

  • Will fit a wide variety of front-end designs across industries and brands.
  • Will not have licensing charges and contracts.
  • Will allow users to centrally manage object-oriented content instead of page by page.
  • Will have easy client workflow with minimal training needed.
  • Will allow clients to radically overhaul the base system if needed.

Here are the salient features of FAE CMS:

  • It is an open source CMS under the MIT license. It is free and software developers can contribute to making it even better.
  • It is easy to get started with Fae. Just install it and generate one or more models with Fae’s generators. Go to the admin option, create users and start managing your project.
  • It has been tested in production environments by many of FINE’s clients.
  • FINE continuously tests and improves Fae.
  • Using Ruby on Rails 5, Fae is fully customizable depending on your unique requirements.

How is Fae different from other CMS software systems?

The founding mission of Fae was to stand out in a crowded CMS software market by offering unique features. It seems the makers have put a lot of thought and effort behind Fae and its features do justify the claims by FINE that it is a CMS with a difference. Here are the main differences between Fae and other CMS:

FeatureOther CMSFAE CMS
CustomizabilityUsers are restricted to the features and configurations provided by the CMS vendor.It is a fully customizable CMS. Software developers can add additional functionalities on top of existing ones with the help of Ruby gems. According to Lori Dunkin, the director of operations for FINE, “because the new system is open source, clients aren’t locked in and can easily move to a different agency if they want to. It’s in everyone’s best interest for this to be a non-issue.”
Contractual obligationsUsers are bound by the terms and conditions and pricing of the CMS vendor.Fae is an open source CMS and users are free to modify the code as per requirements.
Resource ConsumptionTend to be heavy consumers of system resources such as memory.Lightweight application.
Fit with Various UIsTend to have issues of fit with different front-end UIs across the industry despite tall claims.Designed to support various front-end user interfaces that are used across the industry.
Managing ContentUsers may be required to manage content on each page.Users need to manage just the central objects that control the content across pages.


The clients of FINE, who are reputable in their respective industries, are already using FAE CMS. To potential customers, that alone can be reassuring. Customers want maximum value for their investments and since Fae is open source and production tested, it potentially could give other established content management systems a run for their money. Probably the best thing going for Fae is the long-term research that preceded its rollout. The makers of Fae had observed the CMS industry and were able to learn from its mistakes. As a newcomer in the ultra-competitive CMS market, only time can tell how successful FAE CMS will be.

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