So make way to start a Revolution…
Using a content management system (CMS) makes it much easier to update web content, by enabling non-technical authors to submit, edit or change content without knowledge of HTML. Today, open-source CMS systems like MODx are increasingly popular.
Recently, Charles, one of Arketi’s digital designers, joined a group of developers, designers and web jockeys at the MODxpo 2010 in Dallas. He captured his thoughts about the two-day conference, which drew more than 1,000 web professionals, to discuss the hottest and most advanced CMS.
This issue of Core is dedicated to his musings. So make way to start a Revolution…
One of the things I rather enjoy is watching sci-fi animation. Some of my favorites are the classic Robotech, Justice League, RahXephon, and Generator Rex, whose theme song I use for the title of this article. In this newer series, the main character, Rex, has the ability to augment and alter his physical form to create flight, armor, weapons, shields and more.
Now imagine if your website had the same ability.
It’s no secret around Arketi that MODx is my new favorite tool. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had to show my colleagues a technique that was simply awesome. A CMS can radically change how you structure and maintain a website. But what exactly is a CMS?
Wikipedia defines a content management system (CMS) as “a collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment.” However the MODx site explains it better: “In laymen's terms, MODx helps even regular individuals manage content on their websites simply, quickly and intuitively.”
For the geek-elite, MODx is an open-source PHP web application framework with a capable built-in CMS. After attending the MODxpo 2010 in Dallas, I am extremely excited about all the new possibilities MODx presents.
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So what makes MODx so cool?
Templates and template variables rock. When you get down to it, on many sites, most of the subpages are basically the same once you strip out the content. Creating a single template to handle multiple pages means that performing a global change, like changing the copyright on every page from 2009 to 2010 can be done on the fly.
Template variables allow you to assign default values on each page, but also allow you to alter them for specific pages. For example, say the default call-to-action on your website is “Download our white paper”, but on the whitepaper page you want to change the call-to-action to “Download a case study.” Or maybe you want a random call-to-action to appear from a library? It’s just a simple matter of programming a snippet to do so.
In truth, MODx is a framework you can use to build your website through, not a tool you have to adapt your website in order to use.
Assume you are in a typical website development process: the wireframes are done, the page designs are approved and the initial templates have been built. Moving this template into MODx is a matter of converting the proper elements on the page into their snippets, chunks and wayfinder pieces (way cool names wouldn’t you say?).
MODx enables every page to contain title and headings created in a search-engine-friendly manner. In addition, MODx can generate page names that are understandable. For example, “http://mysite.com?id=412” is a perfectly valid URL, but “http://mysite.com/products/widgets.html” makes far more sense to both customers and search engines.
The MODx platform is very streamlined, highly customizable and boasts an open community of developers sharing new applications that can be seamlessly integrated into any MODx-based website. The new version of MODx, called Revolution, is scheduled for release later this year and will undoubtedly shake up the CMS landscape. It’s simply fantastic for both developers and users.
To learn more about MODx, visit www.modxcms.com.
If you need assistance with implementing a content management system to feed your website, or want to learn more about MODx, we are always happy to help. Contact Arketi at firstname.lastname@example.org.