Thu, 19/Oct/2017 15:46

Concrete5 vs ModX

I have made a switch to using Concrete5 instead of ModX as the content management behind this website. First, I have no affiliation (nor stock) with either, so my opinion is not pulled one way or the other from pressures unseen to you.

I found that the driving philosophy bethind each is similar. Get the task done without repetition and make it easy to use for both developer and user. The difference is in the implementation of that goal.

ModX is very hands on and is, in my opinion, not for the average-joe computer user. That said neither will work well for someone unwilling to dive into cold water, you simply can not stick your toe in the water and know it will or will not work for you. I built an entire site using ModX 1.something. It was easy to use once I got the hang of it. I even put together my own css templates to use.  The problem I had with it was that the documentation was for previous versions and I could not find out how to get commands to work with my version. There are wonderful and detailed examples for 0.9.something. I am grateful to authors such as Maryscode for their trail blazing. I just could not figure it out. For example, I could not get 'Jot' to work. Jot is supposed to be simple and allows you to allow users to add comments to pages. It lets you format that and easily create a form for the input. The form alwyas worked but it did not track the comments nor notify me when someone left a comment. I beat against it for hours trying to figure that out, without succes.

Another issue I had with ModX was that I could create great chunks that could be reused on multiple pages but if I wanted subtle variations for each page I had to create multiple chunks or snippets. I did not find a way to do this and I ended up with many chunks.

I did not like the fact that the login page was not forced to ssl via https. I suppose I could have used the .htaccess file for that but I did not know about that at the time.

I liked the way I could apply changes to multiple pages all at once. That came in very handy. The rewrite to pretty urls was clean and the interface was nice. Going back and forth between the page and the dashboard was easy and facilitated easy testing of features.

The community forums were a lot of help, usually. There were lots of snippets and chunks and some templates available to use. There was not very many "polished" items though. It was more put together in a garage rather than in a factory. Don't get me wrong, I like things forged in garages but they do not easily have the same shine as production quality.

Not being able to edit the page from the front end was a bit of a downer but I am a big boy and can edit from the backend. However, I am also not sure if there was a way to manage user comments from the backend. That could get tiresome fast having to traverse a large site just to manager comments.

Concrete5 on the other hand allows users, even ones without much computer experience to edit not only the text of a site but entire blocks and move them around in a near wysiwyg interface from the front end. Again, there does not seem to be a way to manage the guestbook (their version of user comments).

Each page can be change and each block can be altered to function the same or slightly different on each page. This is nice until you need to change one thing on 90 pages and have to do it on each one. Concrete5 also uses a lot of flash for editting and such so you better like flash and not be too into Apple-non-flash products. I will have to surf my site with a non-flash enabled browser, perhaps Konqueror will do.

The Concrete5 community forum seems to have 5 or so people helping everyone. That will get old for them real fast and they will not be able to respond in time and drive folks away. At teh same time as more users get experience they will in turn help others in the forums. The marketplace seems very dominated by those trying to make a buck, which is really the point of the "market", rather than by those trying to help each other. I think in part because people could make a few bucks they have more insentive to polish the code they post. The result is a product that is "real shiny".

To explain, no there is too much. To sum up:

ModX
Pros
modular, templates, code re-use, apply changes to multiple pages simultaneously, once site is up can be operated by average computer user, community is kind and free.
Cons
documentation outdated, not easily spit and polished, getting site up is not for faint of heart, not easy to manipulate structure to suit each page's needs, no easy way for https login, no front end management except for comments.

Concrete5
Pros
Easily polished, easy to use front end content management, easily manipulated blocks, project managers highly motivated to keep project secure.
Cons,
need flash, no simple way for https login, best stuff from community is not free (relatively cheap though), no backend management of comments





Please add a comment

Posted by Brian Larson on
Great post! I'm an avid MODx user and fan and primarily a front end design guy. I'm working with a site that was built on concrete5 so it piqued my interest... my biggest question always is: is it easy (MODx is super easy in my opinion) to integrate custom design?

Anyway I wanted to drop a quick comment to let you know that there is actually a front end manager (non WYSISYG to the page design like concrete5) called QuickManager. This is for Evolution (v1.0.x) and there's still one being worked on for Revolution (v2) I believe.

Again, great post!
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