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Issue 7.6

REVIEW

MODx Website CMS

Issue: 7.6 (September/October 2009)
Author: Dave Mancuso
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,784
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 7606
Related Web Link(s):

http://modxcms.com/

Full text of article...

If you ask most people what the main website content management system (CMS) is, many will name WordPress. Others will name Joomla, or Drupal. These are all (more or less) website development systems. One relative newcomer that's gaining steam is MODx. It's been in development for a couple of years, but version 1.0.0 just came out. Most CMSes promise a lot, but are missing ease of use, flexibility, or capability. MODx attempts to address all of this and more.

Most CMS systems are built for use as a finished website manager. MODx is designed to be a developer's tool with management on top. It installs pretty easily on a web server with PHP and MySQL. Once you run through the installer walkthrough, you delete the initial installer directory (no longer needed, and now a security risk) and log into the web management interface. This is where resemblance to other web CMSes ends. MODx allows you to get deep into the guts of your website, as you design the templates for your site with low level flexibility.

MODx uses terms like template variables ("TVs"), snippets, and chunks to describe three main ways to add functionality to your website. As you develop your website template, you create your own variables in addition to the built-in ones. You can write your own code to make pieces of a page to perform tasks in PHP, Javascript, and more. MODx lets you develop your website much like a programming environment. In fact, the thing that distinguishes MODx from its competition is that it's very much like a website IDE. Every time I got stuck with something in MODx it was because I was thinking of it as a traditional CMS like Drupal or Joomla. Once I got used to thinking of MODx as an IDE, things flowed easily.

The main complaint about MODx is the usual lack of documentation, but exploring the MODx website led me to a number of good training resources. It wasn't very difficult to find out about general MODx practices to specific template questions. Things could be better organized (like many open source projects, I suppose), but documentation complaints have largely been addressed by the MODx community.

The community itself is very active, and members range from devoted fans to pragmatic developers for whom MODx is only one slice of their business. A common thread seems to be the freedom that MODx gives developers to make almost anything they want in a website.

Version 1 is a huge milestone for the MODx team, and they've begun asking for donations. Looking at the product, they certainly deserve the support, and a lot of credit for creating a tool like this for web developers.

End of article.