Code Guru

Code Guru

By James Seavers

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Expression Engine CMS - First Impressions

Expression Engine CMS - First Impressions

It's our first time using Expression Engine on a commercial project, and two things struck me about this powerful content management system, one good, and one bad.

First up, the good, Expression Engines Channels. A channel is a content type, that has its own set of fields. It provides unlimited flexibility, as you can specify exactly what information you need to create a particular type of content page. It makes templating pages a doddle, and it gives your clients an easy interface to administrate their content.

In fact, this is exactly the type of functionality we have to plug into other systems.

Now for the bad, it's Search Module. Whilst Expression Engines Channel Module affords great flexibility, chances are, you are going to want to filter and search those lovely channels you've created, which is where Expression Engines Search Module comes in. Unfortunately, it's lacking some basic functionality, like the ability to order results.

In fact, most of the functionality that is available in the Channel Entries Tag, is not available in the Search Tag. So when you want to use them together, to filter some channels in a directory for example, the Search Tag become useless.

Step in Expression Engines paid for extension community. I used Low Search to replace the built in Search Module. Guess what, it brings the all the Channel Entries Tag functionality to the Low Search Tag, making it a great choice for a directory website.

Whilst it's great that there is an of the shelf extension that fills this gap, I personally think that a system that has a paid for license, claims to have search functionality and is billed as the choice of web professionals should do the basics out of the box.

The verdict, the jury's out. Channels are a revelation, but the supporting cast of modules that come boxed with Expression Engine (that I have so far used), just don't cut it.

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