Why I’m starting with MODx Revolution instead of Evolution

And they say that it’s them and it’s us
And they’ll tell you it’s you and it’s me
But now I can see that it’s me against me
Against me against me against me

-John Wesley Harding, “Me Against Me”

Its time to put aside the MODx vs. Drupal talk for a brief moment, and instead turn to MODx vs. MODx.

MODx has two major release branches: MODx Evolution, the

original code base that started with it’s first production/stable release as version 0.9.0 at the end of October 2005.

, and MODx Revolution, which is

a fully object oriented and completely new branch that’s been in development for more than 2 years that addresses limitations found in the original code base such as having a truly recursive parser and eliminating the 5,000 document ceiling.

Evolution is currently at version 1.0.2.  A very low version number, but considering they’ve taken 4+ years to get from 0.90 to 1.02, it sounds like a pretty safe bet.

Revolution is at version “2.0.0-beta-5”, with “Release Candidate 1” expected Spring 2010.  Yikes. Sounds dangerous, dark, edgy.

Then there’s my project timeline.  I have to start rolling out some shiny new web pages in my shiny new CMS by late March, or my boss will Not Be Pleased.

The boss would likely also Not Be Pleased to know that I intend to go live with a product that will at best be labeled “Release Candidate 1” and is presently labeled “beta-5”.  I mean, I don’t know much about much, but I know that you aren’t supposed to use things called “beta” or “release candidate” for production purposes, right?

Nonetheless I’ve opted to go with Revolution, and I’m not gonna change my mind unless I find some really wicked bugs or someone succeeds in persuading me otherwise.


There are two reasons why I’ve gone this bleeding-edge route instead of playing it safe.  Initially I installed Evolution, but two things I needed/wanted to do proved much, much easier in Revolution.

  1. I need to run multiple sites on one core CMS installation.  While it looks as if this can be done in Evolution, it sounded a heck of a lot easier to do in Revolution.  And it was; it took less than an hour to evaluate three different ways of running multiple virtual hosts, and settle on the one I liked the best.
  2. The whole thing about alternating cached/uncached snippets in Evolution confused my dull little brain.  The first thing I tried to do with my Evolution install was to recreate this cool nettuts faux-iGoogle-portal demo, using snippets for each column and snippets for each box.  I had trouble with the snippet caching issue.  Although I was eventually able to figure it out, I didn’t feel like I had a strong grasp of the solution.   When I recreated the same demo in Revolution, I had no problems with caching issues;  it just worked the way I wanted it to.   My take-away from this is that by using Revolution, I won’t have to think as hard in order to do the things I want to do.  (Remember, I’m lazy).

So, based on the need to run multiple sites, and the need to not have to think too hard about cached and uncached snippets, I’m opting to fly by the seat of my pants and start right away with Revolution, even though it is clearly labeled as “not ready for prime time.”  I love to live on the edge like that.

The way I figure it, I’m pretty comfortable that it is stable enough to trust with the 10-100 or so pages that I hope to have live by the end of March.   Then I’ll install RC1 when it is available, and begin converting more of our folders and departments to MODx gradually over the remainder of the year, fumbling and learning as I go.  Hopefully MODx will continue to inch toward an official Revolution release as I inch toward full conversion of all our websites, and everything will be kosher before my boss ever thinks to ask me about version numbers.

So what do you think?  Is this insane?  Am I being completely reckless and irresponsible?  Or am I making the right decision, based on where the future of MODx lies?


14 responses to this post.

  1. modxcms.com has been running off of Revolution since alpha-4. No problems yet.

    That said, Revo might require a bit of PHP knowledge since a lot of 3rd Party Extras arent developed yet, and you might find some bugs here and there in the UI.

    That said, I think you might want to take a look at System -> Package Management. And try downloading and installing things straight from the manager. Oh, and there’s Property Sets, drag/drop Resource rearranging, drag/drop snippets straight into content, ABAC-security, Content Types, I could go on and on…


  2. Glad to hear you guys are “eating your own dog food” (man do I hate that expression, but nothing else quite grasps the idea).

    I got my Zend certifcation in PHP 5 last summer, so I think my PHP skills should be sufficient for what I need to do. I’m still pretty lousy at OO stuff, but I grasped enough to pass the exam, so I know I can at least fumble my way through it.

    I’m curious about property sets and content types; are there any real-world example tutorials you could point me at for those? And how do those concepts in MODx compare to the CCK in Drupal?


  3. Enjoyed finding your blog (and its title) – shall be back to see what else you’ve written!


  4. > Is this insane?

    No I don’t think so. I’m new to MODx, too. I tried at first Revolution locally on my pc but then I ran into some trouble running it on my webserver. The mysql version on it was out of date. So I gave Evolution a try. I’ve even bought this book about it. But I ended up using Revolution and finally got it to work on my webserver and these are my personal main reasons:

    – XPDO
    I used codeignite before and was used to some great database stuff, but XPDO still amazed me.

    – Package Management
    I’ve already created my own package (a gallery software which I plan to release soon) and it was pretty straight foreward. This feature is awsomely productive.

    – Structure and flexibility
    I like the file structure, the ability to load MODx externally and especially the consequent naming for functions.



  5. Posted by Gunasekar on March 11, 2010 at 2:57 am

    your plans make sense.


  6. Hi,
    It is almost mid May and the release candidate 1 of modx is out ever since this article was written. I just wanted to see if you run into any issues ? Or is your plan working well so far ?

    p.s. : James I think there is a discussion of comparison of Drupal CCK with MODX TV’s here http://modxcms.com/forums/index.php?topic=40822.0


    • I have been using RC1 since it came out. I’m still far from having everything on my list resolved, but I’m as convinced as ever that I chose the right CMS to handle my needs. Like many others, I’m looking forward to the release of RC2 and to the general release of Revo 2.0, both of which are scheduled for the very near future.


  7. Posted by Duncan on June 12, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Two weeks ago I launched a community website using RC2.
    No problems other than my PHP skills needing a boost to work out why the MODx Evolution template I re-used wasn’t behaving properly. There’s a subtle difference in the way the Resource flag isfolder is maintained and that gives interesting results in Wayfinder. Easy to workaround and I’ve logged it for fixing.

    I tripped across this page looking for some worked examples for security – there’s a lot to get out heads around!


  8. Posted by Santosh on November 8, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    If I need a good php knowledge to work on Modx Rev, I am better off writing my own codes. Why should I use it anyways?


  9. I personally believe this specific blog , “Why Im starting with MODx Revolution instead
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  10. I must say really great effort.

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