Last week I decided to unpublish my MODX Ambassador listing. This was by no means an easy decision, but it didn't feel right to be listed there any longer. And because I don't want to abuse the program to get a free advertisement on, I unchecked the "published" checkbox to take my listing offline.

What happened?

As you might have noticed, I did not publish a MODX tutorial recently. Instead there was this MODX vs Craft CMS video where MODX didn't even win on points. But that's not why I left the ambassador program. Craft isn't the best CMS for everything either. It only got me thinking about where MODX is now and where other systems are.

MODX 2.0.0 was released back in 2010. At the time MODX Evolution was already my favorite CMS, so the jump to Revo didn't take long. Not only was it very user friendly, being a Content Management Framework it also was very developer friendly. Sure, learning Ext JS took some time but in the end it worked extremely well for me. Like with every software package there were some parts I didn't really care about, like the overly complex ACLs, but overall MODX was the best thing available. 

Imagine how excited I was when a better version 3.0 was announced in 2012, which would fix all those problems. Finally the almost perfect CMS would become that awesome tool I was looking forward to! Unfortunately, from that point on, things started to slow down. Version 3.0 isn't even on the current roadmap anymore. Instead we're still on the same old 2.x, more than 4 years after it's initial release. Including the same old xPDO, the now very outdated Ext JS 3 and still not leveraging cool other open source stuff you can just grab and use. Things like composer packages for example, so you don't have to maintain everything yourself.


Others did understand this "don't reinvent the wheel" concept. In 2014 you really don't need to maintain your entire code base yourself. Just use what's available, using the earlier mentioned composer for example. That way you can focus on the things you do best and let others maintain the less exciting stuff. That is what Craft CMS is doing, which is built on the excellent Yii framework, uses Twig and has the excellent Redactor editor. And if you want something built on Laravel, which itself is built using other packages, then you can grab systems like October CMS. I could go on, but I guess you get the point by now. :-)

Noticed how many links there were in just the last paragraph? That is the secret behind the success of systems like Craft; reuse other's work if it is any good. And that's also why MODX really needs a version 3, implementing the same strategy. They really should stop using their own templating language, database layer, caching system, etc. There are better options out there these days. Options people already know, so they don't need to learn anything when they start using that part of your CMS. Options you can just grab and use. And last but not least: options that will grow your community.


Let me be perfectly clear about this: I still think MODX is a great CMS today. I don't think it is future proof however. Things have to change. And they have to change fast, because others have caught up. And I can only see those changes happening in a version 3. Version 2.x is just too linked to things like Ext JS 3 and other things made in-house.

So, while I still love MODX (and it's community even more!), I can't be an ambassador considering all of the above. I always look for the best solution for my clients, something I recommend to do anyway. And these days that is not always MODX. I have built several sites in Craft, Kirby and Processwire. Right now I'm building a site using Laravel, because it doesn't need a whole lot of CMS features, but does need to manage a lot of related data. If I were a true ambassador, I would not have done any of those things.

To make a long story just a little longer: I have not completely left MODX by canceling my ambassadorship. But I do hope they will start working on 3.0 soon to make it future proof again. Otherwise I will just use other tools even more than I do now.