Modx & blogging part 1: Setup


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Modx, Articles, Setup

I am not a professional website builder. But I enjoy getting my hands dirty and have previously built websites using the Modx Content Management System (CMS). So when I wanted to start blogging, I decided to continue with Modx and see where it takes me. If you are reading this, then the results were at least partially successful.

Modx is not a blogging platform like Wordpress - it is a CMS that is supposed to allow you, via its plug-in architecture, to build a blog (amongst many other things). Many have done so, but in setting out to do this from a relative beginner's perspective it quickly became apparent that there was not a beginning-to-end document to describe how to do it. Hopefully this will be it.

In part 1, we'll look briefly at Modx, how to install it, and what add-ons I chose to build the blogging platform. Future articles will describe what is missing in relation to my needs, and how I plan to go about filling in the gaps. Later, we'll look at how to take the default template and style it into something more appropriate. Let the fun begin ...

Modx comes in two flavors - Evolution and Revolution. We'll be using Revolution because the blogging platform I've chosen only works on Revolution (more on that below). I won't go into details on how to set up and install Modx - Mary over on Codingpad has done a great job of doing that. If you need help to install Revolution then I suggest you read and follow Mary's instructions. The first three chapters should be enough for now.

So what am I looking for in a blog? All the obvious things really: listings by date, tagging, categories, archiving, comments, searching, inserting images, and inserting blocks of formatted code. Once I started checking out what add-ons were available, it quickly became apparent that Articles, by Shaun McCormick, was the obvious choice as it packages up most of the above features into one "super" add-on.

It does not do everything however - there will be challenges ahead.

Download and install Articles using Modx's Package Management under the System menu. Once successfully installed, create a new blog resource (I called mine - unimaginatively - Blog). This Modx College tutorial explains the process as well as I could.

Go ahead and create a couple of test blog entries. Navigating around the blog summary page, it becomes apparent that there are a couple of issues already:

  • the search function has not been implemented.
  • the Posted By field exposes the username of the poster. In my case, this is the site admin - although you could set up a blogging-specific user id, either way it is a security issue that needs to be fixed.
Blog with some test articles

Note that I've created a comment and a couple of Tags. As I write this, I'm still not sure whether I want Tags and Categories, or whether Tags alone will suffice. If I decide I want Categories too, then that will be something else to figure out later as these do not come with Articles.

In one of the posts I added some "source code" to see what it looked like. The results were not pretty, so this will be something else to fix down the track (I would like to have line numbers, syntax highlighting and copy to clipboard functionality).

In part 2 of this series, I will add the search functionality and address the username security issue.


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