I have been looking through the forum trying to find the best place to post some thoughts on MODx, and this seems like the ideal topic.
I’m not exactly a newbie, having used MODx on several sites. I’d go so far to add I’m an adpet developer in general. Once I know what I need and have seen a relevant API I’m usually fine by myself.
What I really struggle with when it comes to MODx is finding a good, central location to find the information I need on how to implement a particular feature using the available add-ons/snippets. Let me give you an example, based on a real project I’m working on at the moment.
I am building a site that needs a simple blog. It’s more akin to just News items, that users can comment on (anonymously or as a regstered user.)
Now I’m in no doubt whatsoever that many developers out there (and on this forum) have done this already but I find it very frustrating trying to find a definitive description of what Snippets I need to use, and for what elements. In this particular example I’ve got to the point where I’m fairly certain that I can accomplish what I’m after using Ditto to collate the information from the ’news’ items, and Jot to add the capability for users to comment on those items.
But it’s taken me a fair amount of time to reach this conclusion after going back and forth between the offical MODx documentation, individual Add-On sites or Wikis, the general MODx Wiki, searches on this forum, random Googling etc.
So, getting back on topic.. What I would really really love to see in a newbie FAQ, or on the main MODx site, is some kind of decision ’helper’ app that lists all the common things that website developers may want to build, with suggestions as to which MODx Snippets/Add-ons can be used or combined to produce the desired feature. This could simply be a table listing common features/funcitonal elements as rows, with columns for the various MODx Add-ons and some indicaiton of how suitable it is for implementing that feature.
Such a tool should stay well away from techincal/developer talk. To illustrate what I mean, take the description of Ditto from the Extras section of the MODx site:
Ditto takes advantage of an external class, language files to work with multi-language installs, and uses templates extensively for the ultimate in output formatting flexibility and control. And while it has more than 40 configurable parameters in it’s current implementation, you only need for great results (although telling it explicitly where to start probably wouldn’t hurt).
Now I’m sure Ditto is one of the most useful Add-ons for MODx, but the above description is more or less useless in my opinion. When looking at available Add-ons the first thing I want to know is what it can be used for and what you can build with it
not how many parameters it has or any other technical details. Yes, there’s ’category’ information shown alongside the description, but just one paragraph that gets to the crux of what this Snippet can be used for would be much better.
I would like to add that I love MODx and I sing its praises to all who will listen. But time and again the thing that really slows me down and hampers my productivity is simply figuring out the puzzle of what snippets I need to use to do what. The new MODx website looks great, but I would personally really love to see more documentation that can help me make these decisions as a developer, before
I venture off into individual Wikis or API docs or whatever.