The History, Present and Future of MODX

Hello, Meet MODX

An account of how we started, what we’ve done, and a peek into the future as recounted by Ryan Thrash.
An Unintended Start of Something Truly Special

MODX is a content management platform, equal parts PHP application framework and Web Content Management System (CMS). Because we designed it so site builders can customize and override the the Manager control panel and even how the system works without destroying chances for smooth future upgrades, MODX is both highly flexible and quite robust (you’ll hear me say this often). Read on to learn how we got here.

In 2004 Raymond Irving and I began MODX as a mash-up of John Guerra’s DocVars for Etomite and Raymond’s web user add-on. Shortly after moving MODX to a standalone project at the Etomite founder’s request, Jason Coward joined the project and we started clarifying our vision and goals. We didn’t start out with dreams of having one of the most deployed Open Source PHP applications in the world, but that’s where we wound up.

Solving Our Own Problems

We needed MODX to scratch our own itch. We were all to happy to share the results with the world—hence our ongoing dedication even today to Open Source software. We had some basic requirements:

  • Provide a simple template system that didn’t get in the way of making pure XHTML/CSS sites and to purge our sites of needless table-tag soup,
  • Help users quickly build login-protected site content,
  • Create a sensible, robust and extendable API,
  • Don’t force awkward paradigms of how content should be organized,
  • Avoid the tortuous or extended learning curves found in many other CMSes, and
  • Work equally as well for simple marketing website CMS needs and for more complex applications.

Based on user feedback from early adopters, it became clear we hit the mark. Starting in 2005 we began bootstrapping MODX development by only taking on projects that furthered MODX development, and spending all our free time and then some on fostering a burgeoning community of MODX early adopters.

Reinventing MODX to Help More People

Since its inception, we significantly enhanced MODX’s API; been fortunate to be joined by talented development, international and support teams; augmented the user system; and, released a completely new application written from scratch that maintains compatibility and offers an upgrade path for our classic code base. While Raymond has since moved on to other pursuits, Ryan and Jason continue to guide the project today.

We think MODX is a dream come true for Designers, Developers and even normal end users. It’s a platform that enables people to make a living from building sites. In fact there’s been nothing more rewarding to hear than hearing companies—and even first time entrepreneurs— tell us that MODX is the main platform on which they hang their services.

Our Army of Geeks: The Best Community in Open Source

Our community is truly what makes MODX tick—a 30,000-and-growing group of insanely great and passionate users we affectionately refer to as our Army of Geeks.

At any given time, there’s hundreds of individuals actively engaged in developing, maintaining and managing MODX. Not all are coders. In fact, many are “MODX Ambassadors”. We have 2-3 bilingual users per native language community serving as conduits for non-English speaking users. With many established and growing international communities, we expect to continue see significant growth and reach with non-native English speakers globally. (As a side note, the first book published on MODX was in Kanji.)

Traditionally the types of users that click with MODX are advanced designers and developers. That’s not to say MODX isn’t an incredible tool for ongoing website maintenance by “normal” people, because it is. But properly building a website that’s easy to maintain an expressly built to handle the content needs specific to any site takes experience that can only come with seat-time with MODX. And there’s lots of people that can really make MODX fly.

Even if someone doesn’t exquisitely fit the above description, the MODX Community welcomes everyone—except forum spammers. Time and time again, experienced MODX users lend a helping hand and offering feedback to new users and converts to MODX, even for the questions that are asked over and over again. Few projects have enjoyed the great vibe and a rightful reputation of being exceedingly friendly, helpful and supportive of users at every level as MODX.

Join the Revolution

Deploying MODX is a safe choice. It’s been around for years, has won awards like Packt Publishing’s Most Promising Open Source CMS (2007), tied for runner up for Best Open Source CMS (2009), and was finalist for Best PHP CMS (2009). MODX enjoys a strong global community, with no single country representing more than 20% of site traffic and it has been translated into more than two dozen languages.

MODX has been adopted by both publicly traded and large private corporations, has a vibrant pool of developers, and has seen almost twenty releases with over a million downloads. MODX gives organizations the freedom to work how they want and to see and modify all the source code at will. And as of 2010 there’s a company that stands behind MODX software, so it’s safe to take it to the boardroom.

On behalf of the MODX project and of MODX the company, I invite you to join our Community and experience the MODX Revolution.

Happy MODXing,
Ryan's signature
Ryan Thrash, MODX Founder & CEO

There really are some incredible things coming in 2013 … stick around and enjoy the show. ;)