October 28, 2009

Now evaluating ExpressionEngine CMS

Filed under: General news — Tags: , , , — Webopius @ 9:39 pm

When Webopius builds new websites for clients, we work with them to select the right Content Management System. In the past, much of the time this has resulted in using Drupal for robust, scaleable sites with multiple content types and the need for the client to easily maintain the content. For e-commerce systems, ASPDotNetStorefront is often chosen as it’s one of the best commercial ecommerce platforms out there.

More recently, we’ve been very impressed with ExpressionEngine as an alternative Content Management System. A friend introduced us to ExpressionEngine and a couple of months ago we downloaded a copy to evaluate.

Like other CMS systems, Expression Engine cleanly separates the templates and content (weblogs) which is dynamically loaded from the database. Unlike many CMS systems, the template design and tagging system is very easy to understand. You can also intermingle php and the tags to create very powerful content relationships within web pages.

One of the other aspects that appealed to us were the minimal updates once sites are deployed. With other CMS platforms, the system is always nagging us about a security patch or module update that is required. This requires downloading new modules, testing them on development boxes, fixing bugs (and looking up issues with clashes between different modules) before the changes can be deployed to a live site. For a company like us, this takes up valuable time and increases the risk of downtime on client sites. With Expression Engine there seem to be far less frequent security and general updates applied – overall it seems a pretty solid system.

The only initial criticism is that there doesn’t appear to be a central repository or directory of plugins, modules and extensions available which usually means spending yet more time in Google looking for a solution or writing your own. While I’m thinking, why have plugin, extension and modules. Just extensions would be fine and less confusing as I can’t see a great deal of difference, certainly between “module” and “extension”!

Currently, we will be using Expression Engine on the new Luzmon.com (www.luzmon.com) owned by Louise Mohn (www.louisemohn.com). As soon as it’s deployed, I’ll write here with our experiences.

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