MODx – Evolution – 1st Impressions

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I haven’t been using MODx for very long, but I have worked with several other content management systems previously and experienced both the good and the bad with them. MODx appears to be a fairly simple MVC style content management system with a bit of a pluggable architecture. I haven’t written any plugins for MODx, but it appears that hooks are used just like WordPress does.

I have found MODx to be very easy for creating fully tableless XHTML compliant sites and creating very search engine friendly websites. Very easily, it is also possible to hide what cms is running the site by using the easily created pretty urls. (There’s just a couple of simple settings and a file renaming.)

I found the templating system to be extremely frustrating because the template is actually stored in the database instead of in the file system like done in most traditional CMS. I really find editing the templates, snippets, and larger chunks extremely frustrating to edit in the manager because of the lack of syntax highlighting, and issues with formatting.

Of course, the manager does offer the advantage of being able to edit content and site structure from pretty much anything that can access the internet and doesn’t mind some fairly heavy javascript use. MODx’s requirements for webhosting aren’t exactly hard to find either although there is a forum of reviews and suggestions.

Overall, MODx doesn’t appear to be too bad for smaller boutique websites which are a large chunk of my current business. I believe I would recommend it to fellow freelancers for smaller websites that don’t have much need for plugins or high amounts of customization.

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Brian is a software architect and technology leader living in Niagara Falls with 13+ years of development experience. He is passionate about automation, business process re-engineering, and building a better tomorrow.

Brian is a proud father of four: two boys, and two girls and has been happily married to Crystal for more than ten years. From time to time, Brian may post about his faith, his family, and definitely about technology.


    • Brian R Cline

      I haven’t tried including the template yet, but I’m sure it’s possible.

      For now, I’m just using a copy I keep in the file system/version control and then performing any modifications. The modification is then pasted into the textarea and saved.

  1. Mike Schell

    Hi Brian,

    I’ve never found the databasing of templates, chunks, snippets to be a problem myself. That said, I do keep my snippet code on the filesystem so I can debug it in my IDE – I just use an include statement for the in-database snippet code. Others find ways to move the templating to files pretty easily if that’s important for them.

    I’ve built many kinds of web applications, using MODx almost like a framework. I also recommend you check out MODx Revolution. I’d never say that MODx is the best choice for every solution, but it’s amazing how far you can go with it.

    • Brian R Cline

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your response. Are you using svn or git or any other sort of version control? Right now, I’m doing something similar to you in regards to keeping everything in the file system for debugging purposes and ease of modification.

      I am using MODx Revolution for all new project work (and have been for about a month.) A lot of my current project work is overflow work for an agency, so sometimes I am stuck using Evolution and holding back on upgrading to the newest and greatest till the client approves budgets.

      I would be interested in hearing more about how you are using it as a framework though, if you have the time to comment or perhaps provide some sort of code? I don’t think MODx is the perfect solution for everything either, but I think it can be a great edition to our tool belts.

    • Brian R Cline

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment.

      Are there any sort of formal recommendations for developing large web apps / large traffic sites with MODx.

  2. Jay Gilmore

    Relating to larger apps or sites, you should probably ask in the forums. I am not very knowledgeable in the area of application optimization.

    • Brian R Cline

      I’m not so worried about optimization as most of my clients are very small stores or businesses that are looking for some sort of small web application. I’m more interested in a tutorial of how to design the structure (snippets, assets, chunks, templates, etc) for easier maintainability in the future.

  3. Just had to jump in and throw my two cents in here. I’ve since fallen in love with MODx (primarily still using Evolution but dabbing with Revolution). Brian, regarding your following statement: “I would recommend it to fellow freelancers for smaller websites that don’t have much need for plugins or high amounts of customization.”, I just wanted to point out that I ran across a VERY large, highly customized site built on an old version of MODx (pre-Evolution actually – 0.9.6 I believe). Take a peek at I’m still new to MODx as well so I just wanted to share what it’s capable of. I’m in your camp with the smaller sites and whatnot but I’m since discovering just how much you can do with MODx. In case you haven’t already experienced it as well, the community (including core dev team) is super helpful and friendly.


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