Concrete5 vs ModX

Dec 21, 2011

Been doing some research latley around the ModX content management system (CMS) and concrete5. What I've found is that while the approach of each CMS is similar I found that the implemenation is different and that is where the devil is in the details.

ModX is seems to us to be very hands on and as such isn't for the less technical user. If you are willing to work your way through it we find it is a robust system. There is always a learning curve that comes with any CMS, but that curve seemed to be more challenging than it should be. Adding a form to the website and then getting to work the way I wanted to was a bit frustrating and the documentation that we worked through didn't seem very clear.

Another issue we had with ModX was that I could create great chunks that could be reused on multiple pages (that was pretty cool) but if I wanted to create variations for each page I had to create multiple snippets. We could not find a clear way to do this and we ended up too many chunks.

I liked the way I could apply changes to multiple pages all at once. That came in very handy. The rewrite to pretty urls was clean and the interface was nice. Going back and forth between the page and the dashboard was easy and facilitated easy testing of features.

The community forums were a lot of help, usually. There were lots of snippets and chunks and some templates available to use. There was not very many "polished" items though. It was more put together in a garage rather than in a factory. Don't get me wrong, I like things forged in garages but they do not easily have the same shine as production quality.

Not being able to do incontent editing I also found to be a bit of a downside. I've always found that navigating to a page to make a change is a lot easier than trying to manipulating from a backend admin tool. This of course isn't a deal breaker, but a preference of ours.

Concrete5 on the other hand allows users, even ones without much computer experience to edit not only the text of a site but entire blocks and move them around in a near wysiwyg interface from the front end. Again, there does not seem to be a way to manage the guestbook (their version of user comments).

Each page can be change and each block can be altered to function the same or slightly different on each page. This is nice until you need to change one thing on 90 pages and have to do it on each one. Concrete5 also uses a lot of flash for editting and such so you better like flash and not be too into Apple-non-flash products. I will have to surf my site with a non-flash enabled browser, perhaps Konqueror will do.

Concrete5 is to content management what the iphone is to cell phones. Intuitive. Making basic and common changes to a site doesn't require documentation. You just go to the place that you want to make a change and then big buttons seem to make it obvious as to how you do things. We didn't feel the same pains as we did with ModX in getting through the initial learning curve. We also liked the concept in Concrete5 of a scrapbook were you could copy blocks that you wanted to reuse on other places of the site. Unlike ModX, once you pasted a scrapbook item you could manipulite it anyway you want.

The forms block in Concrete5 is second to none. It took us no time to manipulate a form to how we wanted it to work as long as you didn't need anything to fancy. We were a little disappointed that you can create multi-page forms would would like more tools to work with, but for out of the box what Concrete5 provides is more than adequaate.

In summary:

Pros: Modular, easy to use templating system, reusable code, ability to apply changes to multiple pages simultaneously, once site is up can be operated by average computer user, good community.
Cons: Documentation outdated, not easily spit and polished, getting site up is not for faint of heart, not easy to manipulate structure to suit each page's needs, no easy way for https login, no front end management except for comments.

Pros: Polished, easy to use in-content editing, easily manipulated blocks, great form tools, and scrapbooks made it easy to reuse blocks.
Cons: Somewhat limited tools for forms

Tags: Concrete5