ExpressionEngine

This CMS is the commercial offering brought to you by EllisLab, the same guys who created the PHP development framework named CodeIgniter. ExpressionEngine is a flexible system that allows you to publish any number of different streams of information with custom fields. It comes in three versions: “freelancer” version, non-commercial, and commercial.

CMS Screenshot

CMS Screenshot
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Current Version: 2.1.0
Cost: $99.95 / $149.95 /$299.95
Development: Commercial
Specialization: Blog, Forum, Gallery
Source: Closed Source
Hosting: Own Server, Subscription
License: Custom License
Programming: PHP, XML
Database: MySQL

Our Impressions:

ExpressionEngine is best for those that want a feature-rich (blog, dynamic content, static pages, etc.), but have a little programming knowledge. (Hence why designers often gravitate towards this system). While EE does not have a huge development community for modules, they do provide fantastic support through their forums.  Custom fields can be set up and controlled by very specifically by the designer. Another impressive thing is how they have implemented their templates (themes); it does not take a die hard programmer to build a custom theme.

The system can be frustrating at times in that there are menus buried in menus buried in menus. It can take awhile to find what you’re looking for. Once you hit that lightbulb moment though, you’re in for a treat.

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Scores are based on 6 total votes

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User Reviews: Submit Your Own

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Voting has been open for this CMS since Tuesday, February 17th, 2009. There are a total of 6 Reviews for this CMS. You can follow future reviews through the RSS feed if you'd like.

Review by JW December 18th, 2010 6:18 am

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Strengths: NONE!!! Worse product I have ever had the unfortunate opportunity to work with.

Weaknesses: VERY difficult to add content and manage content. If this is a standard fior CMS then I want nothing to do with CMS!

Review by Sebastian April 24th, 2010 7:20 am

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Strengths: Very powerful. EE can be thought of as a database, where you create your tables / collections (weblogs in EE) and define fields for them. Then you can harvest the information in this collections any way you want.

Very easy to setup also. For a site that is based on articles / news this CMS is excellent.

Weaknesses: Initially it is confusing and difficult to understand. The documentation is very light, it only shows very basic examples of what can be done. After the initial learning curve it is quite powerful but not suitable for all types of sites.

For sites that need a hierarchical structure (more than 2 levels deep) EE is a nightmare. Very hard to make this here. It can be done but not its thing at all. There is an excellent plug-in for this (Structure) what it cost.

Review by Mike Mella March 21st, 2009 9:14 am

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Strengths: Simple to understand. You’ll often hear that EE is confusing, but I didn’t find that. In fact, EE is the first CMS that really seemed intuitive to me from the start. The only unintuitive thing is that the name they give to streams of dynamic content is “weblogs”, but they’ve officially announced that in v.2.0, they’re changing that to the more intuitive “channels”.

I also like how EE makes no assumptions about how you want to organize your content. The CMS does come with a ‘demo’ website that you can back-engineer if you want, but if you create a new template, it’s totally blank. You decide how you want it to work. You’re not forced into dissecting nav menus or anything.

Security. It’s my understanding that EE has only had a handful of security updates in its existence. You won’t find yourself having to update the thing every other day like some CMSs.

Weaknesses: There are a few basic functions that I always struggle with, namely file upload management, although they’ve also said that v.2.0 will have “true file management natively,” including image manipulation.

The other thing is events. Many of my websites require an events calendar of some sort, and EE does not natively handle events that span multiple dates or events that repeat. There are add-ons that apparently deal with this, but they are by no means easy to use, especially for non-technical clients. I’ve always wished EE’s out-of-the-box date management were more sophisticated. Perhaps they’ll address this in v.2.0 as well.

Review by Steven Grant March 19th, 2009 3:05 am

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Strengths: The main strength for me is the community. People often say that they don’t like EE because it costs. You won’t get the kind of support EE has without some sort of paid subscription. The support from the forums is great, always looking out for one another.

Technically it has to be custom fields, they’re just so powerful that it opens up so many more doors very easily. That and the ability to create templates without having to program. All of this allows for rapid development.

Weaknesses: Not many, member groups I’m not a fan of. I’d like to be able to assign a user to multiple groups.

Review by Schming March 17th, 2009 9:20 pm

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Strengths: EE is great. The community is incredibly helpful and I’ve found it easy to use for the most part. There are a few things that catch you up at times, but then you just get help on the forums and all is good. Generally there are enough 3rd party add-ons that you can customize the system quite easily if needed and these add-ons are well supported. Many other CMS applications seem to have too many add-ons… I like that EE has solid, decent 3rd party add-ons that work. Working with EE I very rarely have to resort to writing any php. The front end is completely customizable with a powerful backend. I love EE because it’s intuitive, flexible, powerful, and secure and well supported by the best group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Overall, I would definitely recommend EE.

Weaknesses: Almost too much flexibility. Makes it a bit difficult to implement a simple site for a newbie. Some things can be cumbersome, such as customizing the member management system without a 3rd party module as an example. The biggest problem newbies will have, in my opinion, is determining how to build the architecture for an EE site. There are so many different ways of doing things in EE… sometimes this makes newbies feel a bit overwhelmed. Because the templating system is so flexible, there are very few pre-made templates available for EE. That said, it is easy to take any existing template and fit it in to EE once you understand how EE works.

Review by Mark Bowen March 17th, 2009 2:22 pm

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Strengths: The whole system. Mainly the templating system though. I have never ever come across a system that allows me to output information in the exact way that I want with no interruption from the system in some way or another. ExpressionEngine simply lets me get on to design things as I want. If you can code HTML then you can use ExpressionEngine.

Add-ons are also great and easy enough even for me to get a hand in on creating some 🙂

Weaknesses: Can’t think of any, honestly.

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