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MODX: Introduction to a Leading Open Source CMS

MODX is one of today’s leading open source CMS platforms and has, since its first release in 2005, adhered to the principles of scalability, structural flexibility and no platform limitations. MODX promises “creative freedom” as its founders, Ryan Thrash, Raymond Irving and Jason Coward, like to call it.

According to MODX’s website, their goal has always been to use CSS and HMTL for building easy to use, creative and secure websites. Since there were no open source content management systems (CMS) available that fit the bill they decided to build their own and share it with the rest of the world.

MODX: Introduction to a Leading Open Source CMS

MODX History
  • 2004: Raymond Irving and Ryan Trash, both developers, started the MODX CMS project as a mashup between DocVars and Raymond’s web user add-on
  • 2005: Jason Coward joined the project leadership team
  • 2007: Raymond left and Shaun McCormick joined the team a year later
  • 2008: a new logo and branding was created by MODX users
  • 2010: first version of MODX Revolution was released and MODX LLC founded
  • 2010: first MODX conference held in Dallas, TX and sponsored by Microsoft
  • 2012: MODX LLC launches MODX Cloud
  • 2013: premium add-ons introduced for the first time by a well-known MODX community developer, Mark Hamstra
  • 2014: MODX 2.3 release
  • 2015: MODXpo Conference was hosted in Germany
  • 2016: MODX Cloud update
  • 2016: MODX Revolution 2.5, PHP 7
  • 2016: MODX Advisory Board announced
  • 2017: MODX B2B introduced
MODX Main Features

Since its initial release in 2005, MODX has become one of the most robust and popular open source content management systems on the market. So much so that it has been downloaded and installed by millions of users and earned MODX the CMS Critic’s People’s Choice Award in November 2013 for Best Open Source CMS ahead of the other four nominees Liferay, Processwire, e107, and DNN Platform. As CMS Critic stated: “MODX is an incredible CMS that offers an abundance of features for those looking for quality software for free.”

So what are the main features of this free CMS?

Written in PHP and supporting MySQL and HTML, some key features distinguishing MODX are:

  • No creative restrictions during the website creation process
  • Robust site creation and full customization capabilities
  • Templates without cumbersome and rigid theme layers
  • MODX installer allows for upgrades and migration of content and templates as well as access to hundreds of add-ons from inside MODX Manager
  • Upgradability
  • Mobile responsive
  • Customized site management
  • Multi-language and multi-site deployment
MODX vs. WordPress

Inevitably one question comes up over and over again when customers consider and evaluate the most popular free, open source CMS on the market and among them are two that typically rise to the top: MODX and WordPress.

I recently read a very interesting article by Smashstack who did a very thorough job comparing the two. Some of the similarities and differences are briefly outlined below:

  • Although WordPress initially started as a blog platform, its evolution, and the addition of newer capabilities, have made WordPress a good choice for deploying “general-purpose” websites.
  • PHP, MySQL and HTML, prerequisites for building WP sites, are identical to those of MODX.
  • MODX offers more customization flexibility than WordPress.
  • WordPress reliance on third-party templates, or at a bare minimum build-in templates, makes it necessary to modify templates that may be close enough, but not exactly what the customer needs. These modifications can become quite tedious and costly.
  • MODX depends much less on pre-designed layouts and offers much more flexibility to the developers working on site design.
  • Site Management: WordPress offers an easy to use back-end module to manage the site by most site owners with basic needs. MODX however is better suited for larger and more complex site architecture, and it offers custom workflows to enhance the back-end functionality.
  • End-User Experience: WordPress may have less usability issues since the most frequently used and deployed themes have been tested and tried extensively because of their wide usage, and therefore will typically provide a good user experience. On the other hand, the MODX user experience will depend a bit more on the developer’s skill level.

The decision ultimately rests with the end client and should be guided by their unique requirements, regarding to aspects such as visual design and functionality, as well as end-user perspective. A customer in the market for an open source CMS deciding between MODX and WordPress (or any other CMS for that matter) should consult with their agency and work closely together to find the best fit and solution for their needs.

The Future of MODX

With MODX 2.3 serving as an interim upgrade, MODX announced a major overhaul of its CMS in the form of the highly anticipated MODX 3 release. The MODX Revolution 2.4.3, released in February 2016, provided a series of bug fixes and several enhancements to the CMS. This release was considered “monumental” by MODX as it was a stellar example of a major community-led effort which included 300 “commits” by 21 developers and a multitude of fixes and enhancements.

At the beginning of this year, MODX introduced MODX B2B. According to MODX, “our offering is a single vendor, effective solution to profitably grow your business and drive quality leads online.”


MODX is represented by a vibrant and diverse worldwide community, which has been very active and engaged since day one. This explains why global end-user and developers have helped translate MODX into a number of languages, including: Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

Whether deploying a corporate or non-profit website, an eCommerce platform or a series of digital marketing campaigns and blogs, MODX’s international footprint, strong global developer communities, and robust, easy to use and highly customizable features make it a logical choice for any company and organization looking for software features at no cost. This free MODX CMS lends itself to that effort, and coupled with a trusted language partner who can seamlessly integrate with the MODX CMS and translate and deploy fully localized websites and eCommerce platforms becomes an easy choice for anyone considering taking their site and content, products and services global.