MODx Open Source Content Management System - A Detailed Overview

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Friday, January 9, 2009

MODx is an open source PHP Application Framework with powerful features that help you take control of your online content. It empowers developers and advanced users to give as much control as desired to whomever they desire for day-to-day website content maintenance chores. For example, it gives you a true system for registered web users and groups that is separate from administration users. You can grant some web users access to one page and others access to another page. For content management, you can easily duplicate documents, folders (and all their children!), chunks and snippets. Most significant, though, is MODx’s ability to empower you to quickly and easily create and maintain a rich and dynamic website like never before. MODx is something which hasn’t actually got its full share of cake ever. So as the new version of MODx came out on Dec 19. 2008. I thought of reviewing the new version and then explain it to you all.


1. Strong Web Standards Support

MODx does not force you into awkward and confusing blocks-this or channels-that templating engines or layout rules. You can build XHTML 1.1 Strict sites just as easily as a tag-soup laden table layout. So no annoying restrictions for you.

2. Web 2.0 Features (Ajax Compatibility)

MODx claims to be the first free PHP CMS to offer an API that fully supports Web 2.0 Ajax technology. So you can make use of it today in your own custom applications including live search, web effects, Ajax communications and etc.

3. PHP Application Framework

A flexible API and a event model that allows to override how the core behaves. It actually works for the flexibility they boast of and also the ability to customize the solution to your need.

4. Browser Compatibility

This is another place where they score more. It works with pretty much all the browsers. You can manage your websites from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and IE 5.5+, Safari 1.3+, Firefox 1.0+. Though Opera is strangely missing. Anyway, I would recommend Opera anyway to use MODx either. Google Chrome must be following soon.

5. Graphical Installer

Its easier for less experienced users to get up and running fast with a step-by-stop online installer.

6. Improved Rich Text Editors

All MODx RTEs are optional plug-ins, making for a smaller base download. TinyMCE ships out of the box. Adding new RTEs to MODx is simple with FCKeditor available now as an optional download and Textile, Markdown and widgEditors on their way.

7. Aliases and Menu Text Handling

Search Engine Friendly aliases are automatically created from the page titles and the system will check for alias conflicts before saving a page. Reordering your pages with Ajax-enabled drag and drop indexing.

8. Robust CSS Menu Builder

Menus made from ULs are ready to go out of the box. It has all the menu building facilities from very simple to complex solutions. You don’t need to worry about that.

9. Improved Meta-tag and keywords controls

MODx helps your SEO efforts by making it easier to adjust meta-content of your site on a per-page basis.

10. Separate Manager and Web User sessions

Simplifies your testing and development workflow.

11. Improved Document Parser and Error handling

You can build better custom applications with a more robust API and greatly improved error handling and reporting inside the manager.

12. Custom Content Types

You can use MODx documents to manage your linked Style Sheets, Images and Javascript. Transform them into XML, PDF, Excel or Word documents with snippets and this handy new feature.

What’s New in MODx

The change log is actually incomprehensible in most of the areas. So lemme read it loud and easy for you.

  • Revised installer that helps to properly set database charsets and collations while maintaining compatibility with upgrades for existing installations. This should help with non-English multi-byte languages.
  • Japanese Language has been given utmost importance.
  • Updated core components including Ajax Search, TinyMCE rich text editor and TVs.
  • Improved diagnostic reporting and Manager checks.
  • Addressed multiple potentially exploitable security concerns.
  • Updated Image TV Preview plugin


  • Linux or Windows.
  • Apache server with mod_rewrite.
  • PHP 4.3.10 or above.
  • MySQL 4.1.x or above.

MODx Plug-ins and Applications

  • File manager -Unlike many other systems, MODx has a file manager to work efficiently on the content management system.
  • Backup - this is a wonderful utility, especially considering the reliability of some hosting companies.
  • Import and Export static HTML - very useful when switching from or to another content management system.

Other applications, in the form of snippets:

  • AjaxSearch - ajax enabled search form with results highlighting.
  • Ditto - summarizes and lists pages to create blogs, catalogs, PR archives, bio listings and more.
  • eForm - robust form parser/processor with validation, multiple sending options, chunk/page support for forms and reports, and file uploads.
  • NewsPublisher - publish news articles directly from the web.


There are no major cons but some I will like to mention.

  1. Documentation is large enough, It has a very active community too. But still it needs to be compiles and concised. Somehow, the documentation isn’t as good as it should have been with a product like MODx.
  2. There is no search option within the forum. It generates a lot of extraneous links too.
  3. This is more of a warning than of a con. MODx is tightly integrated and dependent on MySQL. Its good but too much of every thing is bad and MODx is just on that level. MODx depends on the database for so much functionality, make doubly sure you backup the database.


If you love PHP and in need of a  great generic web CMS development platform, then MODx is what I will suggest. Its a wonderful application to use and with each passing versions they are evolving.

[thanks to: and]

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