They Call Me Marty!
Design goodness and other ramblings.

Posted on August 18th, 2009 7 Comments

Getting Started With ExpressionEngine

Earlier this year I was looking for a CMS to use in the redesign of a client’s website. I had used <a href="http://www.wordpress.org" title="WordPress">WordPress</a> in the past, but I wasn’t comfortable letting my client make sense of the admin area, especially with the amount of custom fields that needed to be used for this website. I had tinkered a bit with <a href="http://www.expressionengine.com" title="ExpressionEngine">ExpressionEngine</a> once before, but never actually built anything with it. After watching a series of tutorials over at train-ee, I was convinced that ExpressionEngine was the way to go.

 <a href="http://www.expressionengine.com" title="ExpressionEngine">ExpressionEngine</a> has now become the CMS tool of choice for almost all of the web projects I work on. Wheather it’s a blog or a static site. There is a slight learning curve but once you get your head around ExpressionEngine you’ll never go back.

If you are starting out with <a href="http://www.expressionengine.com" title="ExpressionEngine">ExpressionEngine</a> there are a couple of things I suggest you do right out of the gate. <a href="http://www.expressionengine.com" title="ExpressionEngine">ExpressionEngine</a> uses the term “weblog” to refer to a bucket of content. This can get a bit confusing at first because typically we think of a “weblog” as a blog. However, in <a href="http://www.expressionengine.com" title="ExpressionEngine">ExpressionEngine</a> it simply means a place to hold your content. It’s easier to think of a ‘weblog’ as a section within your site.

<img src="http://theycallmemarty.com/images/blog/section.png" alt="" width="430" height="108"/>

To make it easier to remember and get my head around the concept, the first thing I do is change the word “weblog” to “section.” In Admin>System Preferances>General Configurations Look for the “Section Designation Word” and replace “weblog” with the word “section.” This will update every instance of the word “weblog” in the control panel to “section” making it easy to remember the relationship that a “weblog” has to your site.

<img src="http://theycallmemarty.com/images/blog/weblog.png" alt="weblog" width="530" height="96"/>

You will still need to use the word “weblog” in <a href="http://www.expressionengine.com" title="ExpressionEngine">ExpressionEngine</a> tags as you build your site, but this “weblog” concept is unique to ExpressionEngine and this small change will go a long way in helping you get your brain around it.

 The second thing you should do is make ExpressionEngine’s templates available as .php files. In my opinion ExpressionEngine’s flexibility lies in its template structure. In ExpressionEngine you build your websites by creating “Template Groups” that house “Templates.” <a href="http://www.expressionengine.com" title="ExpressionEngine">ExpressionEngine</a> provides you with a pretty descent text editor to edit your Template, but you can also make ExpressionEngine save your template files as .php files in order to work on them in the editor of your choice.

<img src="http://theycallmemarty.com/images/blog/allow_files.png" alt="Files as PHP" width="534" height="91"/>

You can do this in the “Templates” tab. Click on “Global Template Preferences” and change the “Allow Templates to be Saved as Files?” option to “yes.” You also need to update the path where the templates are stored. This path will typically be populated for you, but you can change it to what ever you want. If you do change the directory path, make sure that the directory exists (if not you can create it) and that you have changed the permissions to 755. That’s it!  Now you can edit your templates in any text editor.  

<img src="http://theycallmemarty.com/images/blog/ftp.png" alt="FTP File Access" width="511" height="558"/>

<a href="http://www.expressionengine.com" title="ExpressionEngine">ExpressionEngine</a> is a powerful CMS tool. I hope you enjoy it as much as me.

7 Comments


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On January 13th, 2010 at 9:09 AM

David Couillard thought that:

Hey Manuel!

Glad you like EE… I’‘ve been using it for almost 2 years now and I just swear by this system. My clients like it a lot also.

Now we only have one month to wait for version 2.0!

Also if you would like to learn more good tricks, I suggest you check Ryan Ireland’‘s Screencasts… I did learn a LOT watching them…

http://www.eescreencasts.com/

Nice blog design btw… smile

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On January 24th, 2010 at 5:05 PM

Marty Romero thought that:

Hey David!

I almost lost your comment there. I actually downloaded all of the screencasts by Ryan Ireland. That is how I actually learned to build my first EE website: http://travelscope.net .

I’ve since designed and developed 4 (including this one) and I keep going back to eescreencasts. They’re a great resource!

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On June 2nd, 2010 at 12:19 AM

Resume Writing Services thought that:

“I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!!
I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.”

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On July 16th, 2010 at 11:28 AM

Adam thought that:

Thanks for the new EE install tips! I follow some of these myself.

When changing the “Section Designation Word”, is it possible to use, for example, “section” instead of “weblog” when writing the EE code? I saw this working in an EE 1.6.8 website.

Example Code:
{exp:section:entries section=“example”} content {/exp:section:entries}

Thanks so much!

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On July 19th, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Marty Romero thought that:

Hey Adam,

I don’t think that this can be done without getting under the hood of ExpressionEngine and modifying the core. I might be wrong about this, but I’ll look into and let you know what I find out.

I’m curious to know though, what scenerio you would want to use the word “section” instead of “weblog”. I’m guessing that you or someone in your team are the only ones that are going to be looking at the template code.

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On July 19th, 2010 at 5:08 PM

David Couillard thought that:

Hi Adam,

No it’s not possible to change the tags in EE 1.6…
Even if you change the Weblog word to Section you’ll still have to use the tag {exp:weblog:entries}

Maybe like Marty says if you hack the core of EE, but I doubt it’s really necessary to risk mess up with the whole site just to change the tags…

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On July 20th, 2010 at 7:28 AM

Adam thought that:

Thanks, Marty and David. This other person probably did “hack” their EE install to make this work. You’re right, I don’t want to mess with this, taking the risk of messing up my website. I can live with “weblog”. smile Thanks for your help!


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