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  • I first heard about MODx 8 months ago, and I have to say that it’s completely changed how I develop websites. I was finally to the point of giving up my search for a CMS, because I thought that they were all bloated and unusable, when a former coworker of mine tipped me off to a new CMS they’d been using called MODx. From my first glances at this new found CMS I knew it was something special. I’ve been developing websites with it for about 6 months now and I have to say that it is without a doubt, the best overall CMS I’ve ever used. This post is going to explain why I’m now so attached to MODx, and my overall viewpoint on what a CMS should be. Now, to give you a point of reference, here is a table that represents my experience with different CMSs:

    CMSs I’ve used to build websites

    • WordPress
    • Nucleus
    • Joomla (and Mambo)
    • Xaraya
    • PHPWebSite
    • ZOPE (AHHHHH!)

    CMSs I’ve installed and deemed worthless

    • Drupal
    • Xoops
    • PHP-Nuke
    • Exponent
    • b2evolution
    • eZ Publish
    • Typo3

    While I won’t go into the detailed reasons for deeming all of those CMSs I tried as worthless, the main 2 reasons for not going any further with them are:

    • 1. I didn’t instantly understand how to use it.
    • 2. I could tell that it wouldn’t speed up my website development process.

    Basically, my idea of a CMS is that it should benefit both client and developer. If I can’t instantly understand how to use the thing, how is my client ever going to understand how to use it without some major training? As for benefiting me as a developer, if a CMS slows me down, then how can I justify using it? How do CMSs slow developers down? Complex module coding that requires you to learn a tome of API commands, complex systems that turn creating a simple web page into multi step task, complex template systems, code that is badly written, etc, etc, etc. These two simple points are what I judge a CMS on first. If it qualifies for both of these, then I know I can at least use it for something.

    MODx has these, and so much more...

    I know MODx is easy to use from my experience training people on it. I can usually train my clients in about 2 hours to use it to login, edit, create, and delete pages, add images, add links, add files, manage users, and use any other special snippets (like a gallery). I often hear comments like, "Oh, this is easy! I can do this!", or "Wow, this is so much better than [old CMS name here]!". Note that these are low tech users, usually the most tech savy of their group, who have been appointed to be the web master. I’ve trained assistants, accountants, managers, both young and old, and have never had a bad experience. People are very impressed with the simplicity of the system, and they like how similar it is to other programs like Microsoft Word and Windows.

    MODx is the first CMS I’ve ever used that has actually sped up website development. I think that the main reason for this is how accessible the well written core code is, and how easy it is to write your own code into the system. I can interact with the CMS through snippets or modules - both of which are straightforward php. There are less than 100 API commands to learn, and that really helps.

    Some other ways that MODx speeds up development are:

    • Installation: it’s a snap
    • Great set of pre-made snippets: search, menus, galleries, user registration, etc that are highly customizable
    • Code Duplication: I can write my own snippets, and install them on other MODx sites. Or, once I’ve set up a snippet how I like it, I can copy that to a new site (basically, one time setup for most tasks)
    • SEO: They’ve done a good job at delivering a CMS out of the box that offers some good SEO functions (so I don’t have to hack it for Google)
    • Content Editing: same as for a non web developer, since it is easy for them, it is easy for me to add and edit content too

    There are many other ways that MODx speeds up development for me, but one personal reason that stands out is that it feels like I’ve written a lot of the core code and snippet code myself. When I look at the menu code for instance, I wrote something very similar for a custom cms. Much of the rest of the code feels this way to me, and I think it is because it is clean and well written. I just feel at home with the code, and its a CMS that is written the way I’d want to write one if I had the time (where do the developers get the time to write all this??). The developers have done a great job coding this so that others who know PHP can instantly recognize what it does smiley

    So what’s the catch?

    For me, there is no catch to MODx. All of the pros outweigh the cons so much that I’m not looking for another CMS. MODx is it for me. The program is great, the community is great, and my clients think it’s great.

    Just so I don’t sound so in love with it, here are a few cons I see:

    • I really wish that the Ditto snippet would install and be just like WordPress and have comments, archives, categories, etc automagically all set up
    • There needs to be a fully developed ecommerce snippet/module
    • It would be great to have a one-click way to install snippets/modules from the manager
    • A great calendar snippet would be good
    • A way to version pages would be awesome

    Honestly, I don’t think that there is anything on the cons list that is not currently in development, so time will tell if these things get fixed/added to MODx. My bet is that they will.

    If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?

    Well, I already am married, so I don’t think it would work out. What I would like to do though is thank all of the developers who made this - and I mean anyone who wrote core code, snippets, chunks, templates, everything. You are what make this CMS so great, and the community awesome. Thanks again!

    Do you have a reason why you think MODx is better than any other CMS around? I’d like to know what that is...
    • i can only say: i feel exactly the same way! we also tested all the bigger CMS systems, and didn’t like any of them for the reasons you mentioned... and when we started out with Etomite and later on MODx it was exactly as if we had developed the CMS ourselves. We did a custom-build CMS for Philips and it really has a lot in common with MODx smiley

      • I personally can say my experience with clients is the same as well. It typically takes no more than 1-2 hours and they’re off and running. Most of that time is spent shoulder surfing while they’re running the system. And I’ve trained individuals ranging from auto mechanics to CEOs ... and even the CEOs can do it! To me, that says a lot. smiley
          Ryan Thrash, MODX Co-Founder
          Follow me on Twitter at @rthrash or catch my occasional unofficial thoughts at thrash.me
        • I totally agree with you on the fact MODx really saves time.

          One the snippet installer, Scotty Delicious created a package installer here: http://modxcms.com/MODx-Resource-Wizard-1121.html. Of course it only works with packages made for it. But it was nice when I checked it out 5-6 months ago.

            Chuck the Trukk
            ProWebscape.com :: Nashville-WebDesign.com
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          • I work for a research institute and also experienced success in training editors for our local branch site, but I failed in making the IT manager adopt MODx for the national portal! Now we’re stuck in Plone with an external company ’taking care of it’ ! I’m still trying MODx evangelization to at every meeting!
            • Quote from: lukwe at Jun 29, 2007, 09:10 AM

              Now we’re stuck in Plone with an external company ’taking care of it’ !

              I feel your pain!

              First of all I’m pretty bitter over a three year period when I was forced to use Zope/Plone, when we were telling our management that it would take the project into the toilet. This was when both Zope and Plone were still in infancy though, so mabye it’s better now, but that project did end up getting flushed.

              I also worked on a project that we outsourced to some guys in Chicago (I’m in Nebraska so these were some hot shots, or so our management thought). These guys were retards. We had to teach them how to use source control (svn), and they complained about it the whole time. I left before that project got flushed. tongue

              • I started looking for CMSs over two years ago at such projects as Drupal, Mambo/Joomla and others and found them to be clumsy over featured and took more time to fix and jam my square templates into their round code.

                When I first started developing websites I progressively developed a code framework for my sites and still use it in the development process but once I came into using MODx I have abandoned semi-dynamic php based sites to the slick fully dynamic and extensible framework that is MODx. Even for the smallest of sites, whether my clients use a CMS or not, I build it in MODx just so I can take advantage of the speed of development and the ability to add or change the site structure without the issues of directory creep, renaming files, heavy doses of redirects and the like. I simply build the site in MODx and grow from there.

                My development is based almost exclusively around MODx (I still use WordPress for blog only sites as it is faster to set up and there are specific plugins that can be tacked on quickly). if a developer wants to work with my company I require that they start working with MODx immediately as that’s what they will be using. To no surprise one of the devs I hope to work with has adopted MODx for his own site only couple of months after trying it out.

                It is a project like no other and as time goes on and the framework gets stronger and stronger it will eventually shine as one of the best CMSs and only true CMF.

                  Author of zero books. Formerly of many strange things. Pairs well with meats. Conversations are magical experiences. He's dangerous around code but a markup magician. BlogTwitterLinkedInGitHub
                • must say my foray into CMS’s hasn’t been much, as I’ve been mostly a static html and (*gasp*) flash guy, but have tried joomla and drupal not too long ago. Really started looking into the CMS field due to our clients needed constant, minute changes...and rather than allow them to change them (and/or train them how to do it), I just really wanted to make my life easier in dealing with it. But I must say that I really love the flexibility MODx gives me as a designer first and foremost...it is something I haven’t seen in the other few CMS offerings I’ve tested out. Granted, I’m no slouch with coding...but if I had my druthers, I’d just focus on the pretty aspects of how a site looks wink And I can do this with ease in MODx

                  hats off to the dev team for the awesome work they’ve done!
                  • All my sentiments too... ModX has it all. I’ve got what Ive needed from the start and even after months of playing everything is still easy to pick up and deal with and get to work as it says on the tin.

                    Great Job dev team.

                    Absolutely fantastic!
                    • In the beginning of this year, I was a complete noob to CMSes, and I tested a lot of them. I am a (flash)designer foremost, with a bit of coding knowledge. The thing that got me hooked at the very first instant was the phrase "100% buzzword compatible" ... This really hit the right vibe so to speak, and the marketing on the first page is actually truth. In ModX a lot of things really are a breeze! Even when you do run into Errorland, you have the feeling the system works WITH you , instead of against you. Tell that to Drupal where I often have to take the whole damn thing apart to find an error somewhere along the chain.

                      Learning it to users is a snap.

                      And the community is there to help, hats of to anyone.

                      Of all the CMSes, I also sticked to Drupal, and I have two clients , one with ModX, the other with Drupal. I find the drupal one really a dog to design for. You really have to dive in very deep to get where you want.

                      So I am very excited about the future of ModX. It will be very bright I recon smiley