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The New Kid in Town: MODx Arrives on the CMS Scene; Offers Intuitive Alternative to Joomla, WordPress, Drupal

Raymond Irving Introduces MODx CMS

Following up on iMajestic’s article last month regarding CMS comparisons and specific details about the most popular Content Management Systems, we’re excited to see that another CMS, one that seems to have been ingeniously engineered from the ground up, has surfaced.

MODx, like Drupal and Joomla, is an open-source Content Management System. Inspired originally by work done on the AJAX-friendly Etomite, Raymond Irving and his team of developers from around the world have developed a CMS that appears to be more flexible, and less confined by structural perimeters, than any other CMS in its class.

More importantly, it’s easy to use, easy to configure, and presents users with an accessible and easily understood interface for not only making changes to content, but also quickly editing the site’s layout. As well, it supports dynamic Ajax content unlike any other CMS available via the GPL license, and is the first truly free PHP-based Content Management System to offer an API that fully supports Web 2.0 Ajax technology.

MODx Terminology: Simplified, Just Like Their CMS

A quick visit to the “Learn” section of the MODx website delivers both a sales pitch of sorts, and a subtle coercing to learn more about this CMS:

MODx is not a typical plug-and-play CMS. It’s liberating and different and designed to work the way you think about sites, not how sites are built.
While this may take a bit of re-education about how you’re used to building sites in other systems, we think you’ll find the changes both liberating and well worth the brief learning curve that’s measured in days, not weeks or months.

The first pertinent point made here is that this new CMS, MODx, is going to refer to common terminology in manners that differentiate from what you may presently know of CMS architecture, perhaps as a result of working in other CMS environments. The MODx initiative is to present a more simplified CMS structure that aides their users in more effectively & efficiently building and maintaining websites.

The second point references the re-identification of certain perimeters within the CMS, which more clearly identifies, and functionally realigns them to accurately and functionally reference these elements within MODx’s new framework.

Despite the youth of their effort, it comes together in MODx beautifully.

MODx CMS Template Structure

Designing a template in Joomla, Drupal or WordPress can be an extensive effort, with each CMS referring to many different files and images within the scheme of their calls to a specified template. Often, the design of the template hinges less upon a designer’s knowledge of the code, and more upon his knowledge of the template structure his choice CMS is referring to. This adds time, as well as extra work, to the process of creating a website.

With MODx, the template system is defined by two simplified documents: the Template File contained within the Resources section of the MODx Manager, and a defined CSS sheet. Given this design flexibility, and with a little bit of html knowledge, users can easily make changes to their layout with a few keystrokes, rather than edits to multiple files and the uploading of archive template files.

More advanced and exacting perimeters within the template are defined by utilizing specialized tags via

class tags recognized by the MODx CMS, defined within the Template section of the Resources. These are defined within the MODx documentation, which is as easy to navigate as the MODx administrative interface.

The end result is a template system that outdoes WordPress, Drupal and Joomla on nearly every front. Without architectural restriction, or limited thresholds defined by mysterious and peculiar functions within a CMS, MODx moves their initiative forward impressively in the simplicity of the design perimeters required to customize a MODx site.

Default MODx CMS Functions

As impressive as an out-of-the-box offering in CMS software gets, MODx gives users an impressive platform upon which to develop Web 2.0 applications, utilize Ajax libraries and integrate Flash components. The multi-faceted functionality of this CMS has some techie-types going as far as referring to MODx as a Content Management Framework, not a typical CMS.

Though the standard features of MODx appeal simply to the user (intentional, perhaps?), the range of functionality accommodates the creative whim of even the most knowledgeable and savvy of web designers. The CMS is as functional and robust as it is straightforward and simple.

Custom content type determination, CSS menu generation, override perimeters for core CMS behavior, support for Ajax as well as Flash, and extensive perimeters for Search Engine Optimization make MODx the far superior out-of-the-box choice in CMS software to all three of its’ competitors: Joomla, Drupal and WordPress alike.

In Joomla, special templates must be implemented to cleanly implement any kind of Flash, and Ajax perimeters are severely limited. In the case of Drupal, modules can be installed and custom html can be written, but again, these are not out-of-the-box functions. Drupal can indeed be configured through a series of modules to function as MODx does by default, but conceivably, you could have a MODx site halfway procured by the time you would have been done installing the necessary Drupal modules. In the case of WordPress, its lack of competitive function leaves it unworthy of even a mention here.

MODx Capabilities in Our Next Article

In this piece we covered the template structure, as well as the functional elements that come included with MODx, as both topics applicably compare to the Joomla, Drupal and WordPress CMS’s.

In our next piece, iMajestic goes further into the advanced capability of this powerful new CMS, add-ons for MODx and their importance, the superiority of Search Engine Optimization perimeters within this new offering, and production business sites that are already utilizing this exciting new Content Management System / Framework technology.

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