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    ExpressionEngine: template-driven CMS for the unusual designs

    24th February 2008

    ExpressionEngine (EE) by EllisLab (see dislaimer). EE is available both as free and as paid-for: free has somewhat limited functionality, but enough to start the simple news site or blog. ExpressionEngine is suitable both for content-centric and news-centric (blog-like) projects, though in my opinion it’s more geared towards news/blog-like sites.

    EE has a special/specific feature: to create the site, you actually start with writing page templates, using the admin-interface’s template editor. Templating system is quite simple (especially if you had previous experience with e.g. Smarty), though does take some time to accommodate and learn the tags available.

    EE CMS consists of “modules”. Each module has some admin-side and/or visitor-side functionality, and adds some more template tags, available for templating.

    I built a site using EE – (it’s in Ukrainian, but has several static pages in English). The site has a main blog, and approximately eight topical sub-blogs. Everything is driven by quite a limited number of custom templates – which are often just “include”-d with different parameters.

    As a summary: EE is good for “unusual designs”, as it’s templating is both strong and flexible. However, as a programmer, I find EE “rough around the edges”, and not always consistent. It’s still being developed – for example, the “Pages” module, which allows to create pages with user-defined URLs/permalinks, was added to the core fairly recently; before that, it existed only as a third-party module, and was quite a pain to use.

    Disclaimer: I’m in no way associated with EllisLab, except for being a hired programmer for a purchased EE version.


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