A history of Midgard visuals

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As far as open source CMSs or web frameworks go, Midgard is one of the oldest ones. We started the work on it somewhere between 1997 and 1998, and the first version was launched in May 1999. Over the years our communications and visuals have changed quite a bit, and this post aims to show some of that evolution.

Much of this material has been gathered from old blog posts, various version control systems, and the Internet Archive.


The first Midgard website, designed by Janne Puonti had a distinct Art Deco vibe to it. Back then terms like Content Management System were not that established, and so at first we called Midgard an application server:

Midgard Project in 1999

Animated GIFs were cool, and obviously we had one featuring our logo orbited by the dot from the i in Midgard:


We also had a set of custom logos for different areas of the website content:

About Midgard Download Midgard Midgard News Midgard Documentation Contributing to Midgard Contact Midgard

Back then a lot of software still came on physical media, and so Midgard visuals also carried to that area, like Aurora’s Midgard CD:

Midgard on a CD

Hong Kong Linux Center’s Nadmin Studio was even more ambitious Midgard distribution, including a manual, a full Linux setup, and Midgard integrated with services like LDAP:

Midgard in a box


After a couple of years some simplification was in order. We also swapped abstract imagery with a photo of some of our contributors. I’m not so sure how smart the lens flare in the logo was, however.

This design was by Piotr Pokora, the current Midgard maintainer:

Midgard Project in 2002


The year 2003 was probably the high water mark for Midgard as a community. We had contributors from a lot of different places and new cool frameworks like MidCOM.

This was the time when we started separating conceptually between Midgard the content repository (then called a framework), and Midgard the content management system:

Midgard Project in 2003

Most of the designs from this period were done by Tony Lee from Japan.

Aegir CMS

Aegir CMS was the administrative interface, derived from Hong Kong Linux Center’s Nadmin Studio distribution of Midgard. Aegir had its own branding and was marketed as the end-user solution in Midgard-land:

Aegir CMS logo

Unfortunately no good copies of the old Aegir website have remained, but here is how the login screen looked. Since Aegir and Midgard supported multi-company hosting out of the box, some ISPs were using it as their management interface:

Aegir login screen


After a while we rolled the Aegir story back into Midgard, and had a product family of sorts, with the different administrative interfaces and libraries having their own logos:

Midgard Project logo Aegir logo SpiderAdmin logo MidCOM logo Midgard Framework logo

And of course we were convinced that Midgard was on the top of the CMS world:

Midgard on top

We also had some small buttons people could put to their websites:

Midgard CMS button Midgard CMF button


Tony Lee opened a CafePress shop for Midgard stuff, like t-shirts:

The original Midgard t-shirt

and bags:

Midgard bag


In 2004 it was time to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the project, a better web for 5 years:

Midgard 5th anniversary

This was the first time when we produced a graphic for a particular release version, in this case Midgard 1.6 - power, flexibility, out of the box:

Midgard 1.6

Around these times we also had a separate Midgard-powered application, TownPortal, designed as a full CMS solution for small municipalities. It had a logo designed by Joonas Kallioinen:



Midgard 1.7 brought the first glimpses of the new APIs that would eventually form Midgard2. Because of this we did a redesign with a sunrise theme:

Midgard Project in 2006

Prepare for the New Day was the message. This is still probably my favorite Midgard graphic:

Midgard 1.7

It also featured in the Mac OS X installer we had back then:

Midgard OS X installer


The visuals of the Midgard site would stay quite constant until early 2012, but with Midgard 1.8 we had another release image:

Midgard 1.8


The next bigger change for Midgard was the new logo, designed by Ilkka Martio:

New Midgard logo

The quirky typography of the logo fell into misuse, but the actual bubble still remains in use:



The new logo quickly appeared in various different forms. The first thing was the Midgard mugs that Nemein made in small, numbered sets:

Midgard mug

The Midgard stickers and patches proved to be very popular, and you can see them quite often in various tech conferences:

Midgard stickers Midgard patches

Even Midgard-styled bathrobes have been spotted in some of the community events.


An important year for Midgard, as then we launched Midgard 8.09 Ragnaroek, the long-term supported release of Midgard1 and started focusing on the next generation of Midgard.

As Midgard2 would support many different programming languages beside PHP, it was for us to ride with the PHP elephant into the sunset:

Midgard 8.09


The new Midgard mascot, Vali son of Odin appeared during this time. Drawn by Andreas Nilsson and Kalle Persson, Vali is the Viking that is fated to survive the Ragnaroek.

If you install and run Midgard, you’ll make Vali happy:

Vali approves

But even with perfect software, things sometime go wrong. And that makes Vali quite angry:

Vali is angry

As is customary, Vali has of course been part of our Christmas celebrations:

Xmas Vali

Vali also featured in some banners we used in various events:

Vali banner in FSCONS

At one point Midgard had accumulated quite a lot of performance-hindering bloat, and so we put Vali on a diet:

Vali - before and after


The big event of 2009 was the 10th Anniversary Gala we held.

Midgard Project in 2009

This image would stay quite long on the Midgard project website:

10th anniversary of Midgard

After some time with Ragnaroek, we also made the first real, working Midgard2 release with 9.09 Mjolnir. Vali was happily hammering away, forging a future where Midgard would run on both the web and on mobile devices:

Midgard 9.09

Genuine developers

As the original function prefix for all Midgard code was mgd, we had always connected the project with the Miller Genuine Draft beer. The shirts we made with this theme have been very popular:

Midgard Genuine Developer shirts

Some genuine developers


Andreas Nilsson also helped us with the next major redesign, the new logos for the different pieces of the now-decoupled Midgard ecosystem:

Midgard product logos

From left to right: Midgard Create (and the project), MidCOM (and Midgard MVC), Midgard triplestore, and Midgard2 Content Repository


It took some time, but this year the new logos finally made it to the website redesign as well:

Midgard Project in 2012

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk through the history of Midgard visuals. It will be interesting to see how these things evolve in the future.

I’d love to do another on the actual Midgard user interfaces, but the materials for that are harder to gather. If you can get screenshots of various old interfaces like Aegir, Nadmin Studio, Asgard (from early 2000s), etc, get in touch!

Read more Midgard posts.