MODxpo 2010

I feel fortunate to have spent the last two days in Dallas, TX with the greatest minds in the MODx world. MODxpo 2010 was so far above what I expected that I'm at a loss to capture everything that went on. The most awesome and most humbling aspect of the conference was the openness, honesty, and down-to-earthness of all of people that attended, including the core team. As I've written before, the MODx community is a big reason why I've stuck with it for the past 3 years, but these last two days solidified that for me on a very real level. I've simply never been around a big group of guys (and one gal), who are doing the same work as me and who know MODx so well.

The Revolution Is Here

I haven't been a big proponent of MODx Revolution, but this weekend convinced me that it's going to be huge. The work that the MODx core team, especially Jason Coward and Shawn McCormick, have put into Revolution is simply astounding. During the conference I had the opportunity to talk with both Jason and Shawn at length about my needs for Evo and Revo and it's very apparent that Revolution can handle my needs with native code, while to do what I want to do in Evo I'd have to hack the core and basically fork the project.

With Revo, I finally can say that MODx is a Content Management Framework (CMF). I want to be very specific about what I mean since framework can mean so many things to different people. By CMF I mean that MODx Revolution lays the foundation on which to build your own Content Management System. While MODx provides a default manager interface to manage your content, it's possible and quite easy to make a new theme (essentially a copy of the current management) and customize it to your heart's content. The entire management interface is coded with controllers and views using the smarty templating system, so if you know smarty, it's quite easy to dive in and start making major changes to the interface - customizing it for your own clients. This is the direction that I want to take it, but posibilities are endless. Here are some things that I can envision:

The other great thing about the way themes are done in Revo is that you can specify themes at the user level, just as you could in Evo, but instead of just getting some css changes, the entire interface can change. This makes it possible for power users to have an advanced interface and client users to something that is lot less intimidating. It would also be great if you could specify settings at the group level, but I can't tell if that is possible (if you know, please comment).  It's also still possible to modify the management interface with Template Variables, Custom Manager Pages (previously Modules), and plugins just like you could in Evo.

It seems to me that most developers at the conference had tried Revolution a little bit, maybe just as far as the install. Few had actually built and were running sites with it, and I think this pretty common because of the stage that Revolution is in. Many developers, myself included, just don't feel comfortable with using a release candidate product on a customer's site. There are also very real issues of extras not being available, client documentation having to be changed, and getting clients to pay for what they might see as an unnecessary upgrade. However, I plan to switch my site over to Revolution as soon as possible so that I can start to learn it and become comfortable with it. I've also had grand thoughts of converting this blog into a Revo site and documenting a Wordpress to MODx conversion.

So in planning how I will make the switch to Revolution, my plan is to keep all of my current client sites in Evo and keep them all upgraded to the latest version. I believe that this will make them ready for the day when proper migration tools are built. Along side this, new sites will be start to be built with Revolution. I know that some of my sites may never be upgraded to Revolution because they are too customized, have too many users editing content, etc, but that's ok too because Evolution isn't going anywhere and will continue to be supported for quite some time. If 'core team' support for it would ever end, I feel that there is plenty of community driven support to fill that gap. I expect the timeline for migration would be somewhere around a year and at the end I'll be supporting a handful of Evo sites that won't be upgraded and everything else will be in Revolution.

Evolution Is Still Here

I don't have a lot to say about MODx Evolution except that it's a still a great CMS and if you're not using it you should give it a try. I've been using MODx for the past three years and I don't have any plans to switch to another CMS ever (even though I think MODx sucks). At the conference, presentations covered advanced Template Variable usage in Evolution (using the managermanager plugin), how to streamline your installation and usage of MODx, eCommerce and MODx, MODx security, and general tips and tricks others use in their development.  I think the best session on Evolution was the one where Dell showed how they are using MODx.  I personally learned a lot about faceted classification systems and how to build them with MODx.  They've really pushed Evo to do a lot of different things and it was great to see that.  If you want to see the presentations for yourself, you can view them here thanks to Patrick (AMDBuilder)

Final Words

I really want to take some time in this post to just say thanks to everyone that came to MODxpo 2010 and to the core team.  So if you were at MODxpo these next few words are for you... It was great to meet everyone and figure out the people and personalities behind some of the interesting names we've got in the MODx forums.  It was simply awesome to be around people who share my level of enthusiasm, insight and skill with MODx and to glean so much information from the presentations I saw and conversations we had.  I appreciate the MODx community now more than ever because everyone is so friendly and accepting, no matter what level you come to MODx at.  I think that was really evident at the conference.  It was great to meet Everett, Terry (from Apple), Greg, Kris, Charlie, Glen and James, Brett, Matt and Jeremy, Mark, Patrick, and Josh (and everyone else who said hi).

I especially want to thank the core team - Ryan Thrash, Jason Coward, Shaun McCormick, Jeff Whitfield and those that couldn't make it.  Thanks for putting so much of your time and money into a product that I basically make a living on.  The project would not be where it is today without your direction, commitment and time spent in the development trenches.  Extra thanks goes to Ryan and his wife Liz, who not only let us into their home for a fun evening of but cooked an awesome Texas sized meal for us all as well.  I'm soooo looking forward to the next MODxpo!