First Grav CMS project for step-by-step setup guide?


I’ve been working on three open source projects for education using the Grav CMS (, and I am seeking the level of interest for the projects to help determine which one I should first try to produce a step-by-step setup guide for fellow Reclaim users🙂

For those not familiar with Grav, it is a database-free CMS which stores content in a flexible and easy-to-access file structure, which is ideal to take advantage of today’s modern ecosystem of collaborative tools like GitHub or GitLab.

The three projects are:

Course Hub
Course Hub is an open source Grav-based project intended to help instructors enhance their students’ learning experience by providing an open and collaborative space under the full control of the instructor. Using Course Hub, a broader choice of online course components can be utilized to help reach pedagogical goals beyond the scope of the typical institutional LMS. With this approach, instructors have the freedom to move beyond the confines of the LMS while sensitive student data remains located within the institutional or organization’s LMS. Demo at

ePortfolio Blog
Since content in Grav is stored and maintained as individual files rather than inside a database, it makes for an appealing ePortfolio platform in terms of future-ready content and the ease that students can backup and move their entire ePortfolio after their courses are completed. By partnering Services such as GitHub and GitLab (which can be hosted on your own institutional server) with a Grav ePortfolio blog students have a ‘set-and-forget’ versioned backup of content, and have a wider choice of tools used for content editing - even on their desktop! Demo at

OER Content Space
Open Educational Resources (OER), in addition to appropriate licensing, should ideally support a collaborative workflow for sustainable development and a means for platform independent reuse. With the release of the open source Gantry 5 Framework by RocketTheme, drag-and-drop site layout for online publishing has come to Grav! Gantry provides extensive customization features, including the ability to add new functionality without scripting. With the upcoming Edit Page with Git Particle combined with the GitSync Plugin, users can easily add a dynamic link to view/edit site content as it is stored in a Git (i.e. GitHub or GitLab) repository with the platform-agnostic Markdown format. Demo at

Would you like to see a step-by-step guide on Reclaim for any of the above projects? Please let me know, and feel free to ask any questions which you may have as well.

Thanks very much,


I think each of these is a tremendously valuable contribution, and I’ve been working on an answer but I’m having trouble imagining the audience you have in mind for your guide. Instructional Tech folks like myself? Or a guide to support our faculty? Are you considering Reclaim customers outside of DoOO institutions, or DoOO institutional users? Or something that can work for either?

I’m presuming (hopefully correctly) that you are asking about our potential local uses. At my college, the ePortfolio holds a lot of sway, and I can imagine making the best case for Grav adoption around the ePortfolio blog. We have done some WordPress templating to support ePortfolios used within specific departments (e.g., Business). I can imagine a similar case for Grav. While we don’t see much ePortfolio use here around accreditation here, I can easily imagine other places where the benefit of a flat-file CMS and decentralized version control can be leveraged to pre-populate an ePortfolio with requirements, and then students work through a program while customizing their ePortfolio blog, etc.

We have decent adoption of our LMS (Canvas) among our faculty, but for those that do not use it, I don’t have a firm understanding of why not. My concern about the Course Hub - again, speaking to our particular culture here - is that if they don’t like our LMS, they may just not want to work upon an electronic platform at all.

But I think the real winner is the OER content space. The Gantry 5 OER content space is really awesome. And I think the other open source complements (I’m imagining Commons in a Box and Mahara, maybe) seem to have fair bit of administrative overhead. I have brought up both Commons in a Box and Mahara as platforms for content sharing and co-creation. Without really having explored Gantry 5 much, if the amount of install & configure time for a materials repository, a learning commons, or a straight-up OER publication can be lessened, I’d vote for that!

(And while you’re asking… :slight_smile:) considering Grav overall for a second, and taking a couple steps back, I’m still trying to understand the particularities of Twig, how theme inheritance can work, and how best to use these tools to work collectively (meaning among a community of developers and content creators).

Because it is only just becoming clear to me, I think it would be broadly helpful to show that the Installatron setup of Grav is easy, so too is customization through theme inheritance, once you know how to do it. I think it’s important to show and share that the power of Grav might reside in the fact that flat-file markdown content files, all nested neatly in the pages directory can be cloned, forked, and merged from/to a git repository locally, and shared via Github or GitLab. Same with the /css/ and /partials/ directories within a customized theme. Maybe some guidelines around Grav for which directories to add and which to ignore might be really helpful?

I don’t know how extensive a guide you had in mind, so I might be off the mark with this last bit.

Thanks very much for your very helpful feedback and questions Tim!

Regarding the audience for the guides, I was thinking of a Reclaim Hosting specific set-up guide for instructional tech folks and/or tech-savvy faculty. One project at first, which might then be followed with a broader usage guide of some sort, and then more projects, and usage guides, might follow too.

I think that Grav brings a strong value-proposition for ePortfolios too, given the access and portability of content outside the non-database nature of Grav provides. That being said, right now I am only comfortable with recommending it to students who are more tech-savvy/DIY, where with that audience things like an automatic sync of content to GitHub/GitLab is a recognizable benefit.

Funny enough, the university I teach at (Simon Fraser University) also uses Canvas LMS. Grav Course Hub was initially a one-off custom built project but I found other faculty members were also interested in it as means to partner with their LMS to reach unmet pedagogical goals. If of interest, my CMPT-363 User Interface Course Hub (partnered with Canvas) is available at

Your comments on the OER Content Space are especially very heartening! I see the combination of coupling Grav with Git (i.e. GitHub, GitLab, etc.) as an open and collaborative platform along with the visual theme framework like Gantry a very promising on-line OER environment for more tech-savvy OER authors. Here is a diagram I am currently working on to highlight collaboration and workflow possibilities for both the OER Content Space and ePortfolio Blog projects:

Here is a quick look at what the entire setup/config process for the OER Content Space package with Git Sync looks like:

And what an edit via Git (in this case GitLab) looks like:

So, it sounds like OER Content Space has your vote for the first Reclaim set-up guide - is that right?

Regarding Twig customizations, etc. I’ve recently introduced a default inherited theme already setup in Course Hub package and even synced automatically to the chosen Git Repository. This not only means that more tech-savvy instructors can customize their site’s theme, but also instructors can help other instructors with site development👍 With the use of Gantry 5 for the OER Content Space and ePortfolio Blog a different approach is used, where within the Admin Panel instructors can further customize their theme. As all custom OER Content Space elements are either pages, plugins or particles even different themes (incl. commercial) can be used. I’ve also included a default ‘Custom’ folder in each Gantry 5 theme to help more tech-savvy folks make more extensive changes.

All three of my Grav open source projects are designed to use standard Grav techniques/approaches, and in fact contain minimal custom code to help with sustainability and updating of the packages. For example, if I recall correctly the Grav Course Hub project only contain about ~300 lines of custom code. Less is better in this context🙂

I hope the above provides helpful additional information and has answered your initial questions. Please share any follow-up comments or questions you have.

Thanks again,

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UPDATE: I am exploring the use of Clarify ( for documenting the install and setup for the OER Content Space on Reclaim. Thanks to @timmmmyboy for introducing me to the app!

Here is my work-in-progress guide… comments/suggestions welcome!

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