As you may have already noticed, we work almost exclusively with a platform called ExpressionEngine. Its been nearly three years to the day since we first began using ExpressionEngine - our knowledge of this flexible, expansible platform is even older than we are. It began with Carolines move to Albuquerque in April 2008 and employment at a web development agency that phased out its use of EE in favor of a hosted platform with an affiliate model. Caroline came to that position with knowledge of PHP and MySQL and within a year was building ExpressionEngine Add-ons for clients whose projects carried very specific requirements, such as comparative polling or imports from SAP.
Lots has changed in the ExpressionEngine community since we first got on the bus. Firstly, there are far fewer needs for client-specific add-ons as the most powerful, commercial add-on developers appear to be filling the tiniest niche gaps in the development economy. Theres a constant EE buzz on Twitter that gets louder and louder by the month, and ExpressionEngine is now used by more big brands for its stability and flexibility than any other platform (just look at their home page.) Were still glad to develop add-ons, but our work mostly focuses on emerging HTML5 compatibility with CSS3 selectors, jQuery library usage, and a variety of favorite add-ons to complete projects for clients directly.
The following is a list of favorite add-ons that we find to be highly useful in most web development situations:
- Structure by Travis Schmeisser and Jade McDowde - this a complete page and navigation control solution for the client who is anxious to build SEO landing pages and have ultimate flexibility in the control of their site structure (hence the creative name.) Now, if only we could get them to adopt the html5 nav spec.
- SEO Lite - Just like it sounds. Easy peasy and just titles, keywords, descriptions. There are other addons that incorporate many other parameters, but for the most part, those dont change and dont need to be managed per page or per entry.
- Word_limit - Forget extra publcation fields for a separate summary. This will take the start of your blogpost and publish the first specified number of words so you get consistent blog home pages every time.
- Safecracker - Wowwie! This one was worth the price paid, but they made it free. This creates terrific submission forms to allow for highly customizable user-driven content experiences. Add a little jQuery and youve got seamless, effortless user experiences that practically pull content out of thin air.
- Solspace Freeform - its free, its forms; its freeform! Easy-as-heck contact forms that (unlike Safecracker) dont tie into the content management aspect of EE but create separate tables and lists of submitted data. Useful for contact forms, submissions, and user feedback. We love adding AJAX to this.
- Solspace Tag - Theyre like the United States of Categories - free association, free assignment - no rules. Track popular tags. Great for SEO.
We also develop projects in plain html5, CodeIgniter and MojoMotor. Twitterscap.es uses CodeIgniter and Git. We are getting ready to start our first MojoMotor project for Room Rescue Interiors (because thats my mom!) to replace the flash on their site. (Be warned.)