After discovering Bludit last month and falling in love with content management systems again, I wanted to see what else still existed in a market so utterly dominated by one product that installing anything else on your website is an act of defiance. There are many, many similar products backed by a database server, which is a problem for many reasons. Not nearly as many use flat files for storage, making the selection a lot more manageable. Even fewer are remotely interesting. One however kept my attention for long enough to write this: PluXML
Proper review after the cut.
One thing that stands out: PluXML is proudly a French product: website, forum, blog, all is in French. If you don't speak the language, just click the button labeled "Télécharger", unpack the files and copy them to your server; you'll be able to choose English during the installation process.
Said download is small: PluXML ships with no plugins in the base package (not even a rich text editor!) and only one theme, albeit a nice one. However it comes with built-in features such as RSS newsfeeds and comments, complete with a captcha system. More plugins are available though, and a good selection of themes as well.
The admin panel is another surprise: so workmanlike it reminds me of a Communist apartment building. On the plus side, it probably works in a text-based browser. There's also a complete media manager, with a confusing UI, but it does the job. You get blogging, static pages, menus, the usual, and it was easy to add a photo gallery plugin. One that even builds on existing features instead of reinventing the wheel.
Now, themes might be a bit of a problem. Making one is laborious, and of the couple I tried, the first was broken outright, while the second had unacceptable problems. A lot of functionality seems to depend on the theme working correctly. When it doesn't and you're out of luck, that doesn't bode well.
Don't let that discourage you however. PluXML is open source after all. There is a community to help out, and the code looks decent, just verbose. Moreover, the project recently went through a management change, which may account for some of the issues (development had stalled before this winter).
An alternative to keep in mind, then, with its own unique personality and quirks. We're all different. So should the software we use. Give this one a chance.