Time to learn Expression Engine

Expression Engine Content Management SystemOriginally this post was going to be discussing the different content management systems I use and when to use what? I still think that would make a great post, but I just don’t have the time at the moment to do the proper research that it would involve. Instead I have decided to base this post on my new interest Ellislab’s Expression Engine.

Now there is nothing new about Expression Engine, top web designers swear by it and have been for a while now. I originally heard about EE a while back after discovering the brilliant Veerle’s blog, a must for all creative designers.

ExpressionEngine is a flexible, feature-rich content management system that empowers thousands of individuals, organizations, and companies around the world to easily manage their website.

That definition of Expression Engine sounds great, but it doesn’t quite convince me that it is any better than Joomla, Drupal or WordPress, all of which are free. A commercial license for EE costs 250 dollars. So why pay the money? Why not use an open source alternative?

Well the answer is in it’s flexibility. Expression Engine does not require you to work a certain way, it’s back end forms are not governed by the install file, but my your requirements. It takes WordPress’s custom fields to another level and allows you to work according to your creative process. You can then display your content within your custom designed template according to your exact requirements, no hacks, no excuses for having to do it a slightly different way. View a full list of it’s features.

Now as I said I’m not going to debate the differences between each content management system, as I am only really a specialist in WordPress. I will however say that after visiting a great London based website designer yesterday I am now convinced that I must venture into this new territory.

If you’ve heard of Expression Engine before and know of any early adopters in South Africa please leave a comment below, I’d be very interested in seeing the sites. If you are a potential client who is currently researching the best content mangement system for your buck please contact me.

If you are an Expression Engine representative visiting my site, and have read this free advertisement, please can I have a commercial license 🙂

16 thoughts on “Time to learn Expression Engine”

  1. I’m a South African developer who uses Expression Engine. In short, it’s freakin’ awesome. We built http://www.nelsonmandela.org out of it and haven’t looked back.

    It’s really good for standards-compliant design, because you build templates like you would normal HTML pages – no need to hack existing templates or frameworks that are non-compliant.

    For non-profits and personal use its $100, which is nice.

    There are some concepts that can be difficult at first and most ee developers have an “ah hah” moment, after which it is plain sailing. I’m interested in chatting to any other ee developers in South Africa and trading ideas.

  2. Hi Richard, thanks for popping by and leaving a comment. Great to see some Expression Engine users in South Africa, especially using it on such distinguished sites like nelsonmandela.org. Love the design!

    The standards-compliant design and the build structure of the templates is the exact reason I’m so excited about EE. I’m an avid fan of web standards.

    I’ll definitely remember your details once I get working on an EE site and may defintely need to “trade” ideas.

  3. Hi Mark, just found your blog and I’m liking it quite a bit. Is that a gay-dinosaur emblem in your signature?

    I want to check out expression engine but I had a few problems with my first install. Something about paths and the help I found was requiring all this crazy mod_rewrite stuff. I think I have to look at it again since it seems like a better solution for regular web sites. I am a WordPress devotee but that just doesn’t cut it when you aren’t developing a blog.

  4. That’s exactly what I want to do Richard. I don’t like the way that looks with a directory, then a file name, then a directory. That was the issue I was having. Maybe I should just suck it up.

  5. I haven’t bothered removing index.php myself. How many of your users care about how pretty the URL is? The rest of the URL is quite descriptive which is good. As far as SEO is concerned, I don’t think it is an issue; the page generates as pure HTML.

    I say pick your battles!

  6. Ah Richard, if only I could. All the things you said are true but I’m a detail freak and I just know that seeing that URL would start haunting me like the heart beats from beneath the floorboards in some modern digital Poe story. I should seek rehab for these issues.

  7. I am using the CodeIgniter framework, which is used as the framework for EE.
    My concern is the EE login system, and telkom proxy server.
    I am not able to use EE because of this, has no-one else had similar issues? I simply cannot register/log into the EE demo admin, nor register for any of the Ellislab forums: EE & CodeIgniter. I am using Telkom DSL. I can’t understand that I haven’t found any South African’s with similar issues?!! I would really love to use EE, but it just doesn’t work.
    I assume the issue is similar to the phpBB issue:

  8. Yes, they have problems with SA proxy servers. It has to do with security on their forms interacting badly with our proxy servers.

    Had to ask for a login name and password to purchase the software. However, you can disable that security feature when building your websites with EE.

  9. Hi Rich
    Thank you for your comment. I have since sent them an email inquiring about this issue, and they mentioned the option to allow proxy ip’s, so i’m glad there is a temporary workaround. I’m still trying to understand the whole proxy ip issue, I wonder how many sa developers are oblivious to this because they use a different provider? I see it as quite a major issue when developing web applications, i’m just glad i’m aware of it.

  10. It has been a while since your post on ExpressionEngine, but I thought I would add that I’ve been a steady user for some time. Flexibility (as you describe in your post) and ease of use were the primary drivers. As I got to use ExpressionEngine more, I discovered a third differentiator: they have amazing support through their forums. It hasn’t taken more than a few *hours* to get complete resolution on any questions that I’ve raised.

    At the moment, my own blog is being migrated to ExpressionEngine — it is the last sight to go. I run several custom content driven sites at work on ExpressionEngine, and we just couldn’t have done it as rapidly or with as much flexibility if we had used something else. It was worth every cent of the $250 for the commercial license.

  11. Great blog topic! I’m also very interested in taking EE for a spin after I discovered CodeIgniter, which is DEFINTELY going to be my “secret weapon” when I develop PHP websites. The folks behind Ellis Labs really know their web stuff extremely well. Tell me, is the free EECore download able to accept pugins in order to add extra functionality? Or is it crippled?

  12. Any new news on the latest version of EE? How’s it going? Was it well-received by it’s users? I’ve really dug into WordPress big time over the past 8 months or so. I’ve been setting up small sites for a wide array of users here in Kenya so I havent had a chance to try out EE yet. I must say that WP has totally been transformed after the 2.7 edition.

  13. EE 2.0 is still being finalised though it has gone to private beta. It’s not as flash as WordPress, but provides a better core framework in my opinion, especially with 2.0 being built on CodeIgniter.

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