Initial thoughts on MODx

I'm a keen user of Drupal because it is so powerful and customisable. But sometimes you have a basic brochureware site that doesn't need to be powerful, it should just be easy to style, add content and images, change the sidebars and add forms. On first glance it appears that MODx could be such a system so I'm going to give it a go to find out ...

Initial install was ok but a bit too much to have to do/choose in my opinion but I chose the defaults in the end. Once installed the admin interface looks reassuringly complex but stuff seems to make sense and has interesting features. I particularly like the way it has the sitemap on the left and you can use that to do all kinds of stuff such as publishing/unpublishing without having to actually go to the page.

First reservations are the fact that it appears to have template code defined within the CMS which means no syntax highlighting and it doesn't appear to have any version control. I expect templates could also be defined as separate files so this will be one of the things to check next.

Other points:
* Tinymce wysiwyg out of the box with image library
* Admin interface seems to behave in a nice way such as the save button being static at the top of the window.
* Default functionality is comprehensive but I hope not too overloaded

The above was written about EVO. I've now decided to concentrate on REVO instead since it's currently in beta 3 (25th August 2009) and should be out soon.

Install experience was similar and upon initial login there was a configuration check screen. Useful, but would be nice with some more formatting and links plus an option such as "Would you like me to to do this for you?"

Please bear in mind that this is a review of Beta 3 Advanced. There are likely to be updates.

I've decided to create a key:
NTH - Nice to have

NTH - Transparent menu
NTH - Buttons that are more easily visible as buttons

So first thing I found was that TinyMCE was not installed as it was on EVO. A bit of a look through the menu and I decide that packages is the way to go. So I go to the ModX site, download tinymce and assume it should go in the packages directory. Refreshed my packages page and nothing. Finally see the Add New Package link and try to add local resource. Again nothing, then I try select provider, follow through with no issue and get to download TinyMCE via the modx admin/manager. I see it downloaded to the packages folder, I guess the other one wasn't compatible. (Why wasn't I told before I downloaded it off the site?) No biggie, downloading via the admin is nice :-)

Installing the package seemed to go ok until I went to edit a page and it complained that the TinyMCE Library wasn't there. I checked the path and found permissions were not writeable so I make the path writeable and reinstall the package. The console seemed to fail but I went to edit and TinyMCE was there.

Skipping over some troubles with TinyMCE.

Next I find there are no templates set up so I create a new one via 'Content Elements' and realise I have no idea how to output content. I quick Google didn't return much but some trial and error revealed that I was getting output with: [[pagetitle]] [[longtitle]] and [[*content]]. I didn't have any luck finding more of these variables specifically for REVO. But I did find that you can convert the old tags to revo format:

Old tags:
http://svn.modxcms.com/docs/display/MODx096/Document+Variables
Conversion:
http://svn.modxcms.com/docs/display/revolution/Tag+Syntax

That's enough for now. I've installed a package, created a template and used template tags. A little bit painful but that's probably just lack of documentation for REVO. Certainly nothing at this point that would make me ditch MODx

Comparing to Drupal:
* Tags ~= Template variables
* Chunks ~= Blocks
* Snippets ~= Theme functions and other functions typically in template.php

Next is custom tags or extra fields, getting those edit links into the frontend site and then I'll move on to creating a full site.

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