Programming language: 


Initial release: 


Open Source as of: 



Current major release: 


Core contributors: 

~ 40

Total downloads: 

> 80 000
Last information update: 2014/01

From 2001 to 2005 papaya CMS was sold commercially and has been freely available under the GNU General Public License (GPL) since then. Due to its modular architecture, it is not only suitable as a classic CMS, but also as a framework for new special applications. It focuses on commercial use – companies in media, health care, internet services, and other businesses use papaya.

It is an open source product under the GPL 2 license, free of license fees and constraints, and is being developed by a professinal company. papaya Software GmbH offers their clients cut-to-fit solutions for web applications and sites, based upon papaya.

Advantages for web site owners

In papaya, content and layout are strictly separated from each other. Content is stored as XML and can be entered into back-end dialogs, and the dynamically generated output of application modules is XML as well. Content converted into to the respective output formats using different output filters. The HTML output on web pages is finally formatted using CSS statements and images.

Content can be completely multilingual. The language code is part of the URL, and links to available other languages are provided automatically. The global usage of UTF-8 character encoding makes sure that languages with non-latin characters can be used flawlessly on any client operating system.

The system has a focus on performance optimization. Multi-step. Fine-tunable caching makes sure that content does not have to be gerenerated on each output. Variable session configurations allow to use a high performance web cache like Squid or Varnish to deliver previously cached pages at highest rates.

papaya comes with numerous free modules – on top of managing dynamically generated pages, site owners will get, for instance, forums (including page comments), calendars, customizable feedback forms, or community features. Corporate customers benefit from a a bunch of commercial extensions like a professional newsletter system, glossary, reference database, or detailed statistics.

The user interface

The user interface is workflow-oriented. This means that buttons for specific functions reflect consecutive operations. The page editor, for instance, features a toolbar with Properties, View, and Content buttons which is supposed to be the logical order of steps for creating pages.

Web site templates in papaya consist of a combined template and theme set. Templates transform contents from the XML format to specific target formats (HTML, PDF, news feeds, etc.). The open W3C standard XSLT is used as the templating language. It is not necessary to learn a proprietary language that can only be used within a limited environment.

Complete separation of logic, contents, and layout fosters accessible web sites. By using XSLT templates, valid HTML will always be generated – the most crucial aspect of accessibility. The basic templates that come with the system comply with the official German accessibility demands (BITV). If you use them as a basis for your own templates, you will easily comply with these rules as well. papayas special interest in accessibility has been rewarded with the BIENE award twice.

In one papaya installation, you can set up an arbitrary number of web sites using different domains. Numerous configuration options can be overridden on a per-domain basis, e. g. the respective home page within the page tree, or the template and theme sets to be used, providing completely independent web sites with different layouts. Combined with the option to limit back-end users‘ privileges to a specific part of the page tree, you can create a full multi-client system as different groups of editors can only work with their own web sites.

The back-end contains a highly modular system of roles and privileges. Privileges can be granted both to users and to groups, and each user can be part of multiple groups. All user activities in the backend that cause any changes are being logged including user IDs and can be reviewed in the log view. The list can be filtered by several criteria, making it easy to find specific entries.

papaya for developers

In its current version 5.5, papaya comes with a broad range of free modules that cover most use cases. This means that developers can often concentrate on implementing their own templates (or customizing the sample templates).

The highly modular structure of papaya CMS makes developing your own applications easy. The papaya base system contains an API, consisting of base modules that can easily be extended. On top of page or box modules, you can also create administration modules, cron jobs, output filters, and other special module types.

By consequently using the object orientation capabilites of PHP5, papaya offers more robust and powerful code. Its functionality is guaranteed by unit tests. While rebuilding the papaya framework using these techniques, it was also extended to include numerous new functions that offer even more possibilities to developers.

If you want to create your own modules for papaya CMS, you will find lots of information in the public Wiki, or you can talk to other developers in the developers’ forum where both employees of papaya Software GmbH and independent community members exchange advice, tips, and information.


The efforts of installing, creating templates, and maintanance are definitely too high if you only want to host small web sites with few pages and contents that barely change. Due to its capabilities, papaya CMS is a quite complex piece of software; getting started is harder than with blogs or easier content management systems.

There is a company behind the CMS    

Contrary to community-driven open source projects, papaya is backed by a company that bears responsibility and indicates the direction of software development. papaya Software GmbH offers profeswsional services, including support, training, guaranties/liabilities, and much more.


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