Monday, July 10th, 2006

MODx CMS – An Ajax/PHP Content System

Category: PHP, Utility

There’s a new offering in the PHP/Ajax content management system world and it definitely looks like it has potential – MODx CMS.

MODx is an open source PHP Application Framework that helps you take control of your online content. It empowers developers and advanced users to give as much control as desired to whomever they desire for day-to-day website content maintenance chores.

Sounds a little vauge, right? Well, head over to the demo they offer, log in, and give it a shot. It’s not the most seamless integration, but it’s definitely a step above several of the “click three times to edit a post” offerings out there. Content changes are made in a rich-text editor and simple updates are possible from the pages themselves. The real power in this software, though, is in its Admin interface. There are options galore and a tree-style layout to help you manage not only the pages making up the site, but other content as well. Of course, it’s fully Ajax-enhanced as well, making it easiler to navigate and use.

Posted by Chris Cornutt at 7:24 am

4.4 rating from 202 votes


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I’ve been interested in MODx since I found it a couple months ago. I’d love to see some feedback from anyone that’s implemented MODx on a live site. From the small amount of research I did on MODx vs other CMSs, it seemed like it still needed some improvements before it would be a well-rounded CMS.

Comment by Mike — July 10, 2006

I like this CMS. I’ve only used it once but it did allow me to roll out an entire site in a few days thanks to the remarkably easy templating process. It definitely needs some improved workflow architecture on the backend, but it does provide an easy to use system for both developers and editors. Funny thing is, if MODx had a Web 2.0, 37 signals-esque design behind it, it would be just as much a contender as other popular systems.

I recommend it for anyone building mid-sized websites that need a CMS more complex than what WordPress can provide but don’t need all the extensibility and scalability of Drupal.

Comment by Rob — July 10, 2006

It’s probably just me but I’ve tried the demo and it won’t log in when using Firefox ( Works on IExplorer, though.

Comment by Gonzalo — July 10, 2006

MODx is the Othello of CMSes: It can take a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master!

No matter how often I review CMSes for various implementations I may have, I always find myself using MODx as a baseline. Designers will love it because you modify your existing HTML by simply dropping easy tags where content should go…your design is preserved! Content managers will love it because you can edit the content right on the page without even having to deal with a complicated backend manager if you so choose!

For the more “expert” of users, MODx offers extensibility I have yet to find in other products in the class. Template Variables allow you to source multiple content fields, so you are not always pigeon-holed into a “one size fits all” CMS mentality! The snippet system is so easy to use, I even wrote a Flickr gallery add-on to display your photosets right in your website!

I was an original member of the team but real life got in the way. Almost daily I kick myself in the rear for not staying more closely associated with the project, because I think when version 1.0 comes out, its going to be ALL you all talk about!

Great to see you all covering it!
John Vilsack aka SpeedStreet

Comment by John Vilsack — July 10, 2006

Producing XHTML and CSS compliant websites, a piece of cake with MODx!
I really love this CMS, I am a web designer with zero coding skills but I can build good looking dynamic web sites, its just because of MODx!

Comment by Zaigham — July 10, 2006

I have been (happily) using MODx since november 2005. My clients love it and business has gotten a nice boost ever since I started using it.

Why is that ? The keyword with MODx is flexible. That’s true not only of templating and design, but also of content structure. Let me explain how MODx empowers a webdesigner to work his way instead of working against the system :


* A simple and powerful Template system: MODx doesn’t use a template engine, adding a layer of complexity and rigidity to the system. MODx uses a built-in tag language. You can use tags to display variables such as document attributes, systems settings, template variables, chunks…

* Micro-templates for granular control over content: to go one step further, MODx gives you the ability to define “micro-templates” which allow you to control precisely how and where you want to place the output of a Snippet (through what we call placeholders).

* Dynamic stylesheets: No-one would challenge the fact that dynamic web pages have brought a revolution to the web. To this date, dynamic stylesheets (a.k.a server side css) are still rare. With its flexible document types, MODx is able to parse stylesheets and allow you to add dynamic elements to your css, via tags and snippets : pretty handy to have a dynamic path for images when moving from test to production server, or randomize a background : whatever you can imagine is possible !


* You can create any type of custom content fields: text, rich text, number, date, images, checkbox, dropdown, email, url… with no limitations whatsoever. The best part: you can do so directly from the backend, without ever having to alter the database structure manually.

* Each custom field is linked to a given template: that’s why the custom fields are called Template Variables in MODx. It allows you to define which templates can use the custom variables, and possibly define several content structure if needed (need a product catalog ?

* You can use, style and place those content field easily: a simple tag, [*my_template_variable*], and you can display the content wherever you like, the way you want it displayed. Better yet, if you need to make it available for frontend editing, just add a # before the variable name [*#my_template_variable*]. Pretty easy, uh?

Comment by davidm — July 10, 2006

It’s very well system, i like this.

Comment by Azer Koçulu — July 11, 2006

[…] Vía | Ajaxian Enlace | Sitio oficial de MODx CMS […]

Pingback by Cajón Digital » Blog Archive » MODx, un gestor de contenidos mediante Ajax/PHP — July 11, 2006

How does it compares to Joomla ?

Comment by cheng — July 11, 2006

ModX is by far the best system I’ve ever used. It needs work though I’ll be the first to admit. From a developer’s perspective it is miles ahead of the competition on flexibility, the fact that there is ZERO need to accomodate peculiarities with the system in your final design is in a word revolutionary.

I build a website as I would without a CMS, cut out the lorem ipsum crap and insert the appropriate structure into the file done. Whatever I can imagine the final site will look like. No more glancing at a site… “oh thats a Mambo site for sure!”

Many features in ModX are very nice and unexpected. The integration of front-end maintenance similar to Exponent is needless to say a nice touch. The ability to completely control the state of all your pages, their metadata, security, etc in an ajax environment is unparalleled. The page by page cache control and system-wide server cache clearing is extremely handy. This is by far the best CMS to date and that is before 1.0.

Now to be fair there are some quirks with the system, the member management systems are a little light on documentation and I think there are too many steps to link things up. Once they link everything is fine, but it takes a bit to get all the connections solid. There are a few other areas with content editing that I find finicky, but these are more than likely to be resolved by 1.0. These are all on the backend management as well what some on here have refered to as “expert mode”. So its not so much of a concern for a client.

Also most “plugins” are cut and paste code directly into the CMS. How cool is that. No more edit 30 files in 5 places per file to do a big customization (well most of the time at least). Literally a 10 second install, name it, cut-paste, save, done… eeeaaasssyyy…

How does it compare with Joomla someone asks? If you need the external plugins then Joomla wins hands down, ModX is too young, there is a very active community on it, but its not even 1.0 yet so it obviously needs work. However, otherwise they can’t be compared. ModX is a CMS built the way I would have designed it. We talk about unobtrusive Javascript all the time. Why not unobtrusive CMS… for thats what it is, it completely takes the crap out of development for CMS systems and bring things back to the basics. I don’t personally believe ModX should be compared to most of its compatriots. Its a next generation CMS in a class of its own… is it as robust as what is on the market? No. But to use a rather stupid, but appropriate transportation analogy would you compare a modern car to a prop plane? The modern car (Joomla) is certainly more developed, but the prop plane (ModX) is on a completely different plane (pardon the nerdy pun).

Comment by Owen Lambert — July 11, 2006

Let me add another bias comment on MODx, considering I used to be one of those active members in MODx community.

From my opinion, MODx has quite an innovative CMS idea. The idea is to have the core as simple and flexible as possible. The only drawbacks that MODx still facing is the core code that still needs a lot of cleaning and reworked, considering it used to be a forked from Etomite, which evolved into a much better and advanced CMS. I’m considering this CMS as a CMS/F (Content Management System/Framework), because of it’s flexibility which making the software doesn’t work out of the box like some other CMS, but it gives a greater freedom for people like us (designer/developer/advanced user) in customizing the CMS/F.

In conclusion, it’s a well-built CMS/F. Keep looking forward for a better core code and third party contributions to the system.

Comment by Wendy Novianto — July 13, 2006

Let me add another bias comment on MODx, considering I used to be one of those active members in MODx community.

From my opinion, MODx has quite an innovative CMS idea. The idea is to have the core as simple and flexible as possible. The only drawbacks that MODx still facing is the core code that still needs a lot of cleaning and reworked, considering it used to be a forked from Etomite, which later MODx evolved into a much better and advanced CMS. I’m considering this CMS as a CMS/F (Content Management System/Framework), because of it’s flexibility which making the software doesn’t work out of the box like some other CMS, but it gives a greater freedom for people like us (designer/developer/advanced user) in customizing the CMS/F.

In conclusion, it’s a well-built CMS/F. Keep looking forward for a better core code and third party contributions to the system.

Comment by Wendy Novianto — July 13, 2006

I have used various .Net tools at work including Content Management Server, SharePoint and DotNetNuke. But when my wife decided to set up a charitable website ( I knew I needed to look for something far simpler, cheaper (to buy & to run) and more flexible than the tools I was used to. I trawled through trying as many CMS tools on as I could and found ModX, simply because I could immediately understand the basics and could see that it would not get in the way of the design. A few weeks later and the site is up and running, despite me being new to PHP and MySQL, and I’m still really glad I chose ModX. The only problems I’ve had is battling with CSS & the usual cross-browser compatibility stuff (which I am no expert on!) – ModX has not got in the way at all.
A few summary points to help anyone thinking of ModX:
1) ModX is not the sort of CMS where you will get everything you want without doing CSS and PHP. But its actually really easy. For example, dotNetNuke will allow a non-techie to drop new modules into pages in a simpler fashion.
2) As mentioned above, the list of available modules is not as extensive as some other tools. But its growing really quickly, and I’ve managed to write a few of my own quite easily.
3) Compared to all the other tools I have seen, the templating system is brilliant. Just take an XHTML/CSS web template, cut out the dynamic bits and replace them with tags such as [*content*] and you’re done. In fact its so easy and flexible you can even generate other content types, such as CSS.

Comment by John van Breda — July 14, 2006

I was gonna leave a comment about how great it is, but it’s all been said I think (However here I am) I recently checked out drupal after hearing about how powerful it was on the ‘Inside the Net’ Podcast. It may be very powerful but I was IMMEDIATELY deterred by the inaccessible templating process. There’s no going back.

Comment by Tony Haddon — July 14, 2006

My clients LOVE this CMS since it takes even the most computerphobic ones about five minutes to create/edit their first page.

I LOVE this CMS since whatever I dream in css I can make happen with ModX. SIMPLE templating system.

Joomla has been talking about making their CMS accessible for oh, since it was still Mambo, I think. With ModX you can build completely standards compliant and accessible sites now, and that’s been the case for awhile. And you don’t have to swallow a jargon dictionary to use it like you do with drupal or xaraya. What an amazing thing, a CMS that does not forcefeed you any html! Also, every snippet I’ve used that does have html within its structure is easy to edit, AND if used out of the box, already have the style hooks there for you to utilize. How EASY! Unlike those forcefed tables in Joomla.

It took me awhile to get my head around setting up a site with ModX (I’m strictly front end dev, and not phpsmart!) but once I realized the power of Template Variables, it made me realize that this fabulous tool will allow me to do almost anything I can envision. I can’t wait for Susan to finish the ShopX add on!

Comment by bj — July 29, 2006

I like it, very fast deployment. But as someone said before there are some issues using firefox, wuld be great if developers fix that.

Comment by K'echa — August 8, 2006

I am also using this cms , see it in action here :

Comment by mediapixel — November 8, 2006

I came across MODx in September of 2006 and after comparing it to various systems that were geared to the end user, I fpund that this framework allows me nearly unlimited flexibility. If you find something you don’t think MODx can do there is usually a way to make it work using PHP snippets or the Template Variable system.

The roadmap to 1.0 shows plans to eliminate every line of Etomite code and to see some rationalization, and streamlining of the administration, users and more. But even in the pre 1.0 versions has changed my method of development entirely.

MODx now allows me the ability to offer an easy to use CMS for even my smallest clients due to the way the templating is done. Where previously I would have to spend hours trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole–or hack things until I could make the round hole square–now, I can install MODx, insert the html code, appropriate tags and, done. I can’t see myself working any other way from now on.

But be warned: this is not for the snap-together, end-user targetted app, set to configure out of the box. As MODx team members say it is a developers CMS/Framework and should be set up by someone who is at least skilled in XHTML/CSS and has an understanding of PHP/MySQL. Once configured though it will be end user bliss.

No more data entry work, copy and pasting text into static pages for clients who previously couldn’t afford a CMS.

All the best,


Comment by Jay Gilmore — November 24, 2006

A client hired me to design & build a corporate website. I thought it would be beneficial to base it on an open source CMS. I installed and tried Drupal, Mambo, Joomla, Simple CMS, WebMyPHP (?), and a few others. The further I got into each, the more painful it became. Then I found (and used) MODx. It was empowering. It let me do what I wanted, the way I wanted. There was quite a learning curve, but each piece of learning led directly to accomplishing something I wanted. I (and the client) am very happy with the result, and the client’s marketing specialist is able to keep it updated all by herself.

Comment by Bill Fernandez — November 24, 2006

I’m looking for a cms for my sites.

It seems that ModX is the best one, I can only read enthusiastic comments about it, and when compared to other cms.

Should I use it, or there is something better on commercial Cms? (the price it’s not a problem)

Comment by DRgab — December 30, 2006

The only other CMS with easy templating, seo friendly and custom fields is Expression Engine for $250 for a commercial website plus $40 a year for updates. These are the main two CMS I have found that truly separate content/code from design/layout and are css/xhtml centric.

Comment by kav — January 3, 2007

Our site is bi-lingual and ModX has amazing user controls that allows me and other managers to edit more content than junior managers and members. Brilliant. As a PHP developer myself – I am using this product for several other sites too!

Comment by Matthew — February 2, 2007

Enough said! Get this CMS now!

Honestly :)

I never encountered such an easy to template CMS…
+ there are a lot of addons, work on the CMS is going steadily and there is a very active community on the forums.

Comment by PaulQ — April 18, 2007

Very promising CMS/F, I’m using the CMS which is also recently getting some AJAX improvements, but MODx is gonna be my amazing timesaver on mid-size deployments. Highly recommened!

Comment by Nikita Kapustin — September 23, 2007

Just to mention, MODx has several “native” UTF-8 encoding support for Content Manager like swedish, japanes, russian. Give it a try here:

Comment by Nikita Kapustin — September 23, 2007

Look like a real good ajax program.

Comment by REM — October 13, 2007

I moved to modx from a wordpress which was hacked into a cms – sort of…

There is a small learning curve, but once up it is awesom and easy to implement whichever you can imagine.

I did also try expression engine, cms simple and some more, but this one makes sense.

Kudoos for the developers.

Comment by Rugpijn — November 4, 2007

I have been checking out MODx and have found it very user friendly to integrate CSS templates etc and find the forums fast to respond. Good on the development team of MODx. I look forward to its future improvements even though its pretty solid as it is for what it offers.

Comment by bj2design — December 13, 2007

MODx is simply superb. I even build my “Brochure” sites with it because it makes my life easier when it comes to updating (I just tell my clients…shhh!)

Comment by Leezig — February 26, 2008

I can attest that MODX is a good SEO cms and designers haven as well.

I have set up 13 sites in last 4 months..adding & editing templates is a breeze. You can see how clean of a CMS is it..,,,

Comment by hellomello — June 25, 2008

I read the above about MODx and this is help full too for open source PHP Application Framework to take control of my online content. Thanks for smart knowledge.


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Comment by stuartdenley — September 3, 2008

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