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  1. #1
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    Expression Engine - how quickly did you become comfortable with customizing?

    I am experienced with PHP/MySQL, HTML/CSS and have customized shopping carts and some WordPress blogs.

    I am most interested in knowing how quickly I can take a default install of Expression Engine and produce a custom layout (assuming a graphic designer is involved) that is on the level of the sites in the Expression Engine Showcase.

    In other words, how long did it take to become comfortable with the system's templating (i get the weblog concept - they're just content blocks), and are there other learning resources worth using besides the doc on EE website?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    EE templates are plain old XHTML/CSS templates with tags for where you want all your different content types to go. Normally I write out the basic HTML and CSS offline and create all common elements - header, footer, sidebar, content etc etc - then go into EE, create the template files and paste in the code. Then I add in EE tags code separately as the site is built and content types are added.

    I do a lot of PSD to EE integrations and usually allow one day for the offline HTML/CSS work, then one more day to build up the templates in EE.

    Do a web search for "expressionengine tutorials" there's a lot out there

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the quick reply/advice. Any downsides or problems using EE - lack of modules/features maybe? Any sites you've done and willing to point to ?

    Ellis labs did point me to some learning resources.

  4. #4
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    I've been using ExpressionEngine for a few years now. It didn't take me long to understand the basic structure of the CMS. Like with most CMSes, a complete site built with it can take from a week to a few months, always depending on the complexity and features, obviously.

    All in all, EE has some very powerful features. It definitely is my CMS of choice and I build my sites on it as well as some clients sites. Like Bluedreamer pointed out, there are plenty of resource sites for EE solely these days.

    As for negative points..., see this also largely depends on what you mean by that. If you're a WordPress fan and - in particular - a huge fan of the gazillion of plugins, free themes, and astronomical user base, then you might see that as weaknesses or negative points for EE as EE does not have that kind of userbase, nor do they have that many plugins or free themes. EE is geared towards a different audience than WordPress and, most likely, other CMS software.

    As much as I love EE, there are two things that could and should be improved upon; the member module and the gallery module. There are fantastic third-party add-ons by Solspace that iron out most of the limitations I have had with these two modules, but it'd be cool if these two first-party modules were allowing for as much flexibility by themselves. Even if one does run into issues, the Ellislab team support is top notch and always willing to go the extra mile with you if you get stuck in some way or another.

    The new version, which has had its entire code re-written from scratch and based on the CodeIgniter framework, is said to eliminate most of the issues, or so I've heard.

    This article might be a good starting point in terms of finding some good resources. There's plenty more, but it'll keep you busy for a while.
    Last edited by kohoutek; May 9, 2009 at 07:10.
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgm_03 View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply/advice. Any downsides or problems using EE - lack of modules/features maybe?
    As kohoutek said there are one or two things that could be improved - the same can be said for any CMS - but these are likely to mostly be addressed with the pending version 2.0. Saying that, one person may see the need for an improvement while for the next the existing functionality is fine, it very much depends on how you want things to work.

    Out of the box EE usually covers 90%+ of a sites needs but there are a handfull of "must have" addons that fill most of what's left - one I'm thinking of is the excellent Fieldframe addon that allows you to create a huge range of field types for your data, and Image sizer which allows you to resize images on the fly (and cache them).

    Apart from that the world is your oyster with EE. Start with a blank sheet and create your way.


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