SPIP is a highly customisable web-publishing system suitable for blogs, online magazines, association or charity websites, and so on.
Information is published as articles or news items, all of which are organised into sections, subsections and even sub-subsections should the need arise. RSS feeds, both incoming and outgoing, are also available.
Articles can be cross-referenced via keywords, and it is even possible to have a multilingual site with the various translations of each article linked to each other so that you can see at a glance which articles have yet to be translated into a particular language.
How the site looks and which functions are actually used will depend on the template used. Perhaps you’re not interested in publishing news items, or RSS feeds from other sites – or maybe you’d prefer that articles in a particular section (never/are the only ones to) appear on the front page. Or perhaps an article should only appear on the front page if it has been assigned a particular keyword…
Templates reside in their own specific directory, and are installed independently of SPIP, which means you can update your version of SPIP without destroying your page layout. Of course, there is always the risk that a major update of SPIP will turn out to be incompatible with your current template, but in that case you need only deactivate the template until you have either updated the code to be compatible with the new version, or else replaced it with something else completely. There is a wide choice of ready-made templates available, many of them subject to regular revision in order to maintain compatibility and squash bugs. These days templates are mostly available as plugins, which makes the management and configuration of them a lot easier.
You can also use plug-ins to add extra functions (e.g. cache size management, smilies) to your site.
There are still a number of things that have yet to be implemented or improved, but SPIP is already a very useable tool that’s easily customised. If you care to learn a little HTML and PHP you can go a long way in customising your installation, as the online documentation is pretty comprehensive, although if you don’t read French you may occasionally find gaps as not everything has been translated.