New Overview of MODx (MODx Series Part II)

A while back I did a brief overview of the MODx content management system. Well, I was asked to do a high-resolution video so you can see what the manager interface looks like and you can get an idea of why you might want to choose the MODx content management system for your next web site.

A video used to be embedded here but the service that it was hosted on has shut down.


Publish/unpublish a document by right-clicking the document:

Right-click a document to edit it
Right-click a document to edit it

You can set publish/unpublish dates by changing the Page Settings:

Set the Publish/Unpublish dates in the Page Settings tab
Set the Publish/Unpublish dates in the Page Settings tab

Build your own templates or use existing CSS and HTML by adding simple placeholders to the code. Just paste the HTML page into a new Template.

Sample of a MODx Template:

<html xmlns="">
<meta name="description" content="[*description*]">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<link type="text/css" media="screen" rel="stylesheet" href="/assets/templates/uncomplicated/style.css" />
<base href="/"/>

Where you put the [*placeholders*] is somewhat arbitrary, but the above example is how I usually put together my templates. It’s just important to remember how the substitution works. The text in the “Title” field will replace the [*pagetitle*] placeholder tag.

Here’s a graphic I made to demonstrate how the values in the editor are substituted any instances of the placeholders in the template. MODx offers the easiest templating I know of. Stay tuned for a hi-res video illustrating how you can take an existing HTML/CSS layout and turn it into a MODx template… for now, only the low-res video is available.

MODx uses simple placeholders for templates
MODx uses simple placeholders for templates

MODx also allows you to add custom fields to any document, but that’s a more advanced topic… stay tuned.


The requirements for MODx are quite similar to the requirements of other CMS’s.

  • PHP (4.4.x or above)
  • MySQL (4.1 or above)
  • Apache with mod_rewrite (used for friendly URLs)


  • Document Tree. Using other CMS’s it can be difficult to locate content. “Where was that legal notice? I know the URL, but I just can’t find the content to edit it!” MODx makes it easy to find and edit your content.
  • Isolation of Responsibilities. It’s very simple to isolate roles so a team can work on a site: content folks can login to the manager and edit content, front-end designers can build HTML and CSS templates that integrate EASILY into MODx without a steep learning curve, and PHP developers can write code, and each of these separate groups can work in their respective areas with very simple overlaps.
  • Simple Templates. There are no special logical tags to learn for templates; PHP scripts can be saved directly in the database and called from any document. Not all CMS’s provide this kind of isolation, and no other CMS makes it as easy to use existing HTML and CSS layouts.
  • Dynamic Menus. They make it easy to move content around your site, and menus will generate themselves automatically!
  • Speed. All CMS’s are slower than a static site, but MODx is one of the faster CMS’s that I’ve seen using load time benchmarking.
  • Small database footprint. You can get a hundred pages on your site and end up using only a few megabytes in your database. Other CMS’s use much more space in the database.
  • Extendable! It is insanely simple to add existing PHP scripts to MODx.


As much as I like MODx, it may not be the best choice for your particular needs.

  • 5000 page limit. The new version of MODx will support more, but if you have more than 5000 pages on your site, MODx may not be for you. There are work-arounds, however…
  • Open-Source. If you are in a corporate environment and you NEED to have someone on-call for help resolving technical problems, then you should probably look for a different CMS. MODx is open-source. The forums are a great place to get help, but there is no dedicated support staff.
  • Versioning. Some CMS’s offer rollback features for the content in your templates or posts (similar to giving you levels of “un-do”), but the current version ( does not offer this by default. You can add this functionality, but it is not built-in; it is slated to be included in the next version of MODx


I hope that the video gives you an idea of what this content management system looks like. Hopefully you can see how you might use it for one of your own projects. Don’t forget the MODx Wiki and the MODx forums for additional resources. Stay tuned for more videos.

15 thoughts on “New Overview of MODx (MODx Series Part II)

  1. Thanks, MarkT!

    I was corrected about a couple things in the video: MODx does not use the Smarty template library; I only wanted to point out that the templating is similar to Smarty (or to Template Toolkit or Mason etc).

    And MODx is not necessarily built using 100% by-the-book MVC architecture… exactly what MVC is or should be is a bit of a complex topic beyond my expertise, but MODx offers good separation between the display and application logic, making it easier to develop applications.

  2. Thanks for an enlightening film on MODx. I have read about the system on different web sites but this gave me a fast and good overview. Now I have a grip of it. I will put a link to this film on my web site where I present Open Source systems so more people can find it.

    Thank you!

  3. Excellent! Thank you for taking the time to explain what you did. As a Modx ‘101’ newbie, I’m doing my learning up front (like a good girl) and your video was perfect for me. BTW, the sound was in synch for me.

  4. I was looking for another cms like thingie for the next version of my site.
    I use Joomla now, but It is not really good for a php lover like myself

    modx sounded good and after watching your video I am certainly going to try it!


  5. Great presentation. You have a really natural and relaxed presentation style, whilst still being structured and informative. Your voice is very easy on the ears too so it makes for a very pleasant learning experience.

  6. Hi Everett,

    Really enjoyed the quick overview of MODx. I know it’s older now since v2.0 is out now, but still a great intro to the platform for everyone still! Thanks.

    Daniel Easterbrook

  7. Thanks so much, I’m new to CMS and have struggled finding well presented tutorials. Finally the information I needed to start my career with Modx!!

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