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No More Hiding in Plain Sight

For way too long, we considered MODX the best kept secret for anyone who cares about total creative freedom on the web—we effectively were hiding in plain sight. CMS Expo in Chicago last week brought home that it wasn’t just us. We used CMSX as our official “launch” for MODX, both as an Open Source project and company.

And boy, did it ever exceed our expectations on all fronts. Our Twitter activity during CMSX was just one indicator of how much buzz there was around MODX:

Top 20 Hastags from CMS Expo

Social Media analysis thanks to NextPrinciples who were also at CMSX; you should definitely check them out. (I added the bottom comparrison of MODX to the other guys.)

Our booth was constantly busy—probably the busiest one—at CMSX. We think the amount of traffic just from Joomla users indicates there’s even more room for what we’re doing in the CMS space than we originally thought. Most people really had no experience or even knowledge of MODX, and were really happy we were there.

One of many demos during CMX Expo

See more CMS Expo photos on the MODX Facebook page. And, I need to lose a few lbs.

Suffice it to say, MODX is officially now very much on the radar.

Making Hard Things Simple

We demoed MODX Cloud a lot at CMSX. Not a watered down, safe prototype, but the real code that’s currently in internal beta. It just works, and it blew people away.

MODX Cloud is the ultimate MODX dev platform. There is a ton of code behind the scenes—actually more than Revo itself, in four different languages no less—that makes things like 15-second upgrades happen in one click, or making trivial the creation of new websites from a Template in less than two minutes. Backups are on by default, and restores are dead easy with end users 100% in the driver’s seat.

MODXers loved it. Non-MODXers left wondering where the heck we came from! It was a blast watching mouths drop and even a few backwards stutter steps during demos.

One thing I hope people notice when Cloud opens for public beta is the un-intimidating interface and focus on experience that is friendly, banishes overly-technical jargon and works intuitively. In short it’s designed so that regular folks can do sophisticated things with web infrastructure on demand, without needing help from expensive, overworked and sometimes fickle server geeks.

Top 20 Hastags from CMS Expo

A few screenshots from the MODX Cloud interface. If you like what you see, you can sign up for private beta access.

MODX Needs Simplicity and Vision

We’ve already discussed our tagline at MODX, Creative Freedom. This resonated with many at CMSX. When we showed non-MODXers how easy it is to suck in a design generated from another CMS and to put it into Revo, they got it. When they saw what Cloud could do for them, they really got it.

Going forward, we will apply the lessons learned from CMS Expo and filter everything we do at MODX through our company vision:

Create amazing collaboration experiences for the people that build the web.

That means that designers, developers and content creators can work side-by-side without breaking each others’ work. Long-term MODXers probably already get this, but it’s important to state it explicitly for all.

A Streamlined Logo and Focus

You may notice we have a simpler iteration of our logo now. We think it better exemplifies what we did with Cloud—taking tremendous complexity behind the scenes and presenting it in a more streamlined fashion (the previous iteration was more appropriate for complexity…). It also better represents our three core initiatives: Community (largest, green bar), Cloud (blue) and Complete:

  • Community—I’m the owner of this initiative and its purpose is to drive adoption and awareness of MODX. In the coming months, you’ll see me on the road, talking and demoing MODX, attending meetups all over the world (assuming I finally get my passport renewed…) and in general listening to what’s going on in the market to make sure our core Open Source product continues to kick ass.

  • Complete—led by James Bohan-Pitt, MODX Complete is our Commercial Support and Partner operations, a traditional Open Source business model pioneered by companies like MySQL and Red Hat. CMS Expo reinforced how critical vendor-backed commercial support is for many organizations. Our Partners that attended CMSX learned how MODX can help them grow, owning their client relationships and focusing on their strengths, with MODX filling in the gaps. MODX helps by doing some of the heavy lifting and strategic work, enabling Partners to win and deliver larger, more profitable projects that previously would have been out of reach.

  • Cloud—led by our CTO, Kevin Marvin, MODX Cloud is the future of MODX. It’s truly a transformative way to build and manage websites. If you haven’t already requested private beta access, I’d suggest you definitely get in line. Cloud is tremendously powerful even today, and has an even richer roadmap that will set the bar for what all web workers will expect of web development platforms.

Applying Lessons Learned

The first on the list for long-overdue interface attention is our core CMS product. It needs to be brought up to the standards of MODX Cloud in order to be aligned with our Vision. (Yes, this is a teaser while we finish our planning.) But based on some private chats at CMSX with long-time MODXers, we think you’ll like what you see.

In fact, the experience you get in MODX Cloud will be mirrored in everything that wears a MODX label. That means you’ll also see updates in our forums, too.

Living up to our Vision is not an easy task—we have a lot of work to do. However, we are committed to enacting the standard it implies for our busines and for every product associated with MODX. We have already started using it as a filter against decisions we have to make. The results so far have been both very positive and would have likely not happened the same way otherwise.

As sure as I was when we promised to go all in on MODX at our first MODxpo in May 2010, after CMSX I now know we did the right thing. For current MODXers, thanks for sticking it out and believing in what we do. For those new to MODX, welcome aboard and get ready to experience creative freedom like you never have before.

Ryan is a Christian, the lucky husband of an amazing wife, and father of two usually great kids. A native redneck from East Texas living in Dallas for over 20 years, he's lost a bit of the verbal twang over the years, but still loves to get back to his roots over charcoal with a chunk of meat and a few frosty bevs. Ryan co-founded MODX in 2004, where he works every day helping build the company and its products.


  1. Desmond Smith
    May 17, 2012 at 09:55 AM
    Ryan, thanks for an awesome recap of CMSX. Would LOVED to have been able to attend, but it looks like you blew the doors off. Nice work. The twitter traffic graphic was powerful too. Was there ever any doubt that when the rest of the world saw MODX they'd love it too?

    Nicely done. Awesome project. Awesome Community. What else do you need?

    1. Tom Wilson
      May 17, 2012 at 06:31 PM
      Ryan, great recap. I was there and fully agree it was an amazing time seeing the looks on peoples' faces as they started to realize that they may have spent a lot of time trying to get around limitations in their current tool that MODX handles with ease. Every piece software is reflective: it reflects either the quality of the work (which gets a "wow" reaction), or alternately the lack thereof (which gets the "I just drank vingear" look).

      The MODX team (and others who have contributed to the success of tool) thought about "doing it right the first time", and it shows by the number of "wow" reactions that I personally saw myself!

      I look forward to being there next year, and getting up to speed well before that. Having spent most of the week around you guys, I think I learned a lot by osmosis. :) It has given me a giant impetus to develop.

      1. mdsdesign
        May 18, 2012 at 08:46 AM
        Great article Ryan. After many years of searching for the perfect CMS, I couldn't believe how easy ModX was to use. That was several years ago and I build all of my sites on ModX now even if the client isn't interested managing their content. I always felt like I was in on the secret and in a way, it was nice. Having this great tool that my peers just didn't know anything about. However, the growth of ModX over the years and the incredible community have made using it even better. I'm looking forward to seeing where this all goes. It's been a great journey so far.


        1. Adam Wintle
          May 21, 2012 at 09:55 PM
          I'm seriously looking forward to seeing MODX Cloud, I hope my beta invite gets to the front of the queue soon ;) Is there any more news on the new partnership programme?

          1. chr.s
            Sep 15, 2012 at 03:50 PM
            This all looks very promising.

            I only hope that some of the essential tasks that need to be performed from time-to-time are far less intimidating than are currently the case. The majority of Modx always made perfect sense to my non-programmer, designer-oriented mind, but some things left me utterly bewildered.

            Fingers crossed.

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