The Next Decade of MODX

by Ryan Thrash

Published on July 16, 2014

MODX’s story began just over a decade ago on a dialup connection in rural Alabama—close to where Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded some of my favorite music growing up. I returned to visit family for the 4th recently, and while walking through the kitchen, I glanced down at the light filtering through the trees onto the wall. There it was: the phone jack I plugged into all those years ago.

The actual phone jack where it all started

The memories started flooding back, causing me to reflect on both the last and the next decade of MODX.


We wanted to build sites that could be styled just with CSS. We worked for non-technical clients that wanted to own their day-to-day content management tasks, even for content protected behind a login. We didn’t want alpha-engineers forcing us to compromise to their ideal way of how the web should work; we wanted to control how sites were built, and to have the ability to easily adapt to the future on our schedule.

In short, we wanted creative freedom.

This is the itch that MODX ultimately scratched. With our first production release in 2005, you could have powered a mobile responsive website that would look amazing on any modern phone today—years before the others even started giving it consideration.

We trained normal people from sole proprietors to CEOs on how to create and update content using our software. It never took more than an hour, with the occasional follow-up call, because we also made MODX adaptable. You could customize the experience specifically to every client and still maintain a clean upgrade path.

MODX was even instrumental in introducing Linux and Open Source into some large pure-Microsoft shops, like Bechtel. Just as you could use MODX to power amazing experiences on the web back then, MODX can power whatever comes next, today.


The next decade will start by focusing on the three key things we’ve been laying a foundation for over the last year:

First, we’re passionate about helping people create amazing experiences on the web, and continuing to truly deliver on our promise of creative freedom. “Experience” is often loosely thrown around and it’s certainly overused. But for MODX, it’s critical to who we are and what our software stands for, and we hope authentic. We’ll continue delivering on this creative freedom, by letting people do things they don’t even know they need yet, by offering Commercial Support for the software we shared with the world, and by supporting the marketers and site builders who choose MODX. Your experiences with both MODX the software and our company that stands behind it should be, and will be, amazing.

Second, MODX is experiencing a revolution with the help of an amazing Community as evidenced by yesterday’s version 2.2.15 and 2.3 releases. Dozens of new people jumped in to help solve hundreds of issues reported by hundreds of individuals. Dozens more participated in translating MODX into new languages and updating translations. The Community is one of the key facets that makes MODX special, and if you ever get a chance to attend a MODX event I encourage you to experience this for yourself. We want to see the Community explode, and the already vibrant ecosystem around which people and organizations are building thriving businesses and careers becoming even bigger.

And finally, to deliver on the above promises, we must continue streamlining and simplifying where normal humans interface with our technology. For long term MODX users, the 2.3 user interface represents a mere glimpse of where MODX will go. With the Community momentum over the last few months, I can’t wait to see where that winds up. It’s not just about being prettier or faster, either; we’ll make MODX accessible for non-sighted and assistive device users. It’s not only the right thing to do, and it absolutely is, but it will also help us to further craft our platform towards simplicity and a more fluid User Experience that “just works”.


None of the above means we’ll remove the things that make MODX so flexible and capable. On the contrary, they will be honestly evaluated, artfully packaged, functionally augmented and clearly explained to make MODX more approachable and accessible to a broader audience. We’ll even rip and replace the parts that need it, even if that means big changes.

This is all tremendously hard and time consuming work, but I wouldn’t trade the privilege of playing a small role in it for the world. We’re going back to our roots, having a blast, creating great solutions, offering great commercial support around MODX, and making awesome stuff. From the core software to the improving UX, from the main website to the native community sites around the world, to products and services that we and others are building around it, MODX has a huge and vibrant future.

Personally, I want to thank the Community for giving me a professional purpose for more than a decade, my family for putting up with all the crazy ideas and subsequent peaks and valleys from making a living giving away things for “free”, and the team who makes it all possible and does such amazing work. I’m fortunate and truly blessed to have you all in my life.

Here’s to the next 10.

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