Why the ExpressionEngine community is a better place to be for a single developer

There’s probably a lot of good reasons to go with WordPress, but if you’re a single developer ExpressionEngine might be worth considering. Please allow me to present (*drum roll*) “The Top 10 Reasons The EE Community Is A Better Place To Be For A Single Developer / Entrepreneur”

1. You Don’t Have To Worry About GPL Related Bullsh*t

The GPL discussion is all the rave in the WP community these days. In fact, it has been for a good while and many of largest premium theme providers for WP has already GPL’d their themes – with one notable exception; Chris Pearson, the creator of Thesis, a very popular premium theme. Matt Mullenweg (of WordPress) has criticized this very openly, and it’s now speculated that the only way to solve this is in court.

Anyway, to make my point here ExpressionEngine is as we know a commercial product. Which means that you can create commercial addons, commercial themes, commercial whatever – without worrying about being infected by the GPL virus.

An example; most of the people reading this blog has heard of WooThemes, one of the most successful theme providers for WP. Try to google “WooThemes” and you’ll most likely get this:

WooThemes Google WTF

So someone is selling all their themes as a bundle for $10. And they’re doing it all legally! Because it’s GPL. It’s a scumbag move, sure – but it’s legal. (Sidenote; WooThemes continues to be a very profitable business because of excellent support which is basically what they’re selling – and because most people want to do the right thing I guess, which is buying the themes directly from them of course).

This is not something you have to worry about as an ExpressionEngine developer.

Note; you still have to think about licensing though, as the whole “Brandon-Kelly-Did-I-Really-Creative-Commons-That?”-EEMatrix controversy demonstrated.

2. The Affiliate Program

Being a commercial product ExpressionEngine has an affiliate program. You get the money deposited to your PayPal account each month with personal thanks and gratitude from the ExpressionEngine team.

This point is not to be underestimated. An affiliate program means you can blog and talk about ExpressionEngine and make money from something you would normally do being a part of the community.

Are there a lot of affiliate programs for WordPress? Sure, popular addons like Gravity Forms, most premium theme providers like WooThemes and Thesis have their affiliate programs but that’s not the same – the EE affiliate program is for the CMS itself; everyone working with ExpressionEngine needs to buy a license.

Demand for EE 2.0 is through the roof (so much so they dropped the free version, everyone was paying). And they might as well buy a license after reading one of your blogposts :-)

Click here for more details about the EE affiliate program

3. There’s Money Here – People Are Used To Paying

EE is the choice of professional designers etc. delivering websites to clients. I don’t know about you, but if an addon or theme can save me one hour, it’s definitively worth $60.

People using EE are comfortable with paying for services that save them money or time. As mentioned in the previous point EllisLab dropped the free EE Core version since no one was using it anyway. Most were paying customers.

Some communities consist of people who expect everything to be free. The EE community doesn’t. And that’s good for a third party dev!

4. We Have An Addon Store Just Like Apple

Devot:ee the ultimate addon directory for EE recently opened an addon store enabling developers to sell addons directly on their site. Yeah, just like the AppStore!

Here’s a screenshot of a sales report courtesy of Ryan Masuga:

This means you can create commercial addons, have them listed on the “official” EE addon store and make money without worrying about setting up a webshop etc.

5. You Can Be Famous In Six Months

The WordPress community is huge. I don’t know but there are probably hundreds of relatively known WP developers. The EE community – not so big. About 10 – 20 relatively known developers. If you create 3 addons you’ll be invited to speak at EECI2011, hehe. In six months you can make a dent in the WP community or you can be a f*cking EE rockstar. Your choice.

6. It’s MVC And It’s Easy To Get Started

With 2.0 EllisLab made a great choice of going CodeIgniter all the way. This means that your EE addon is a CodeIgniter module, with helpers, libraries, views etc. EE comes bundles with CodeIgniter, and you can harness the power of the CodeIgniter framework in your EE modules. Nice!

In addition to the CodeIgniter user guide (which is pretty good) there are developer docs for EE and the newly created Development and Programming forum to encourage discussion among developers.

And of course, I can’t write this blog post without plugging my own DevKit addon which is an addon you use in your development environment to create the skeleton of a new addon.. check out this video:

Yup, it’s easy to get started, so give it a go!

7. If You Create Something Nice EllisLab Might Embrace It

Take a look at the Community page on expressionengine.com. Sites like EEInsider, Devot:ee, Show EE, Director-ee etc. are all sites created by third-party devs and taken to heart by EllisLab (creators of EE). It doesn’t even have to be a unique or new idea, just a nice implementation.

Also, it could be argued that some of the most popular commercial addons for EE (Structure, SolSpace’s Tag for instance) in reality is pretty basic functionality that should be added in a CMS (pages/tagging). I don’t know for sure, but I have a feeling EllisLab likes the fact that there’s a commercial sphere around EE and that they don’t want to step on too many third party toes by incorporating this functionality into EE (and therby destroying the market for these third party addons). Of course this is just speculation from my side, and it can be argued this is a bad thing – but for a third party dev this is a good thing^TM .. And yeah, Brandon Kelly’s FieldFrame is just the exception that proves the rule.

If you create something nice you might be featured on ExpressionEngine.com – and if you make a living selling an addon the ellisphant in the room might just let you continue with that.

8. The Twitter Stream Is Actually Maintainable

The #eecms twitter stream can actually be followed and read, without much noise or spam. It’s a nice pace. You take the weekend off, have a couple of beers or enjoy some quality time with the family, then come back and see what happened while you were away. Try that with #wordpress .. it’s more like “grab a coffee and see what happened while you were away” :-p

9. You Can Deliver A Website To Your Client And Then Forget About It

Ok, this last point might be a bit FUD’y but still – I make sure the WordPress blogs I deliver to clients are always kept up-to-date for all eternity. I mean who wants to see this in the Google search results (image courtesy of Pearsonified):

Get cheap pills over at Pearsonified

Everyone doing WordPress knows: you update when there’s a new version out, or else you might be at risk. Belive it or not; it’s not like that with EE. You can actually chill and not worry about these kinds of things happening. There’s very seldom a security patch, and if there is one there’s not enough people using EE for the Viagra mafioso to bother anyway.

Of course, that said, it’s always good practice to upgrade your clients to the latest version anyway, but with EE it can wait until tuesday ;-)

10. There Is No Ten

Do you really need ten reasons? There was only 9, that should be enough for anyone. If I added another reason it’d probably be some standard one about EllisLab’s great support etc.

So let me finish with this; if you’re interested in checking out EE buy a license (don’t bother with the free Zend encoded trial IMHO, buy it and you’ll get the source and be able to debug, see what’s happening under the hood, etc.) – say hello in the forums or in the comments below or to me on twitter, follow the #eecms hashtag – participate in the discussion on Twitter, and of course don’t forget to subscribe to my feed if you enjoyed this post.

What do you think? Are there other benefits about the EE community? Was I a bit too generalizing somewhere? Is WordPress really a MUCH MUCH BETTER CMS AND EVERYONE ELSE MUST DIE? Let me know!

Introducing DevKit for EE 2.0

I’ve spent the last 8 months developing modules (and templates) for EE 2.0. Pretty early I got annoyed by some of the redundant manual tasks I had to do over and over again .. so I started creating some addons to help me out. Now I’ve bundled (some of that) functionality in this thing I’ve named DevKit for EE 2.0, download it here: zip / github page.

For now it contains functionality to generate the skeleton of a new EE module – you just give it some details (name, description, etc.) and an installable EE 2.0 module will be generated. It will add some helpful functions as well. Then it’s up to you to fill it with business logic ;-)

Also it has a one-click load of snippets and global variables from the filesystem. Personally I like to use the built in EE functionality to add that to the main navigation at the top, so that when updating the global variables in my files I just hit that button and they’re all updated.

And then there is a YAML 2 dbforge generator that will help you out when you have a lot of database tables you need to generate (this is handy for the upd.yourmodule.php install() and uninstall() functions). Personally I’m too lazy to write dbforge code, YAML is quicker (see the screenshot). This is very basic, but it works.

Here are some screenshots:

DevKit: Create new module

YAML 2 dbforge Code Generator

Update/Import snippets/global variables from disk

Like it?

I hope that other EE developers find this helpful. If you do, please let me know, and also – if you’d like to contribute / help out improving this DevKit let me know and I’ll add you to the project on github so you can commit code to it.

This is a small step for EE, and a humble start, but maybe this can evolve into an awesome tool / framework for EE 2.0 development.

Download: devkit.zip

WooThemes launch of ExpressionEngine themes gets TechCrunch frontpage

Themes have moved


Please note that these themes have now moved to ThemeForest, you can find them here: ExpressionEngine Themes @ AddonBakery

Ok, I’m kind of busy these days so I haven’t got time for the most elaborate posts — but anyway, as some of you might know I’ve teamed up with WooThemes to create theme packages for my publishing engine of choice; ExpressionEngine.

Yesterday was a busy day since we launched it, and thanks to adii and Daniel Brusilovsky it made the frontpage on TechCrunch:


WooThemes and ExpressionEngine on the TechCrunch frontpage

I think that’s great, both for WooThemes and EllisLab/ExpressionEngine.

And of course, it also resulted in this:

The author’s tweet (300k followers) + TechCrunch’s tweet (1,3m followers) + general Twitter crazyness with the “woourl.com/ee” being passed around, resulted in the rsaweb guys working their butts off to keep the server up (it went down a couple of times as well, but all in all they did a good job).

It’s exciting times, since we’re basically testing out some new grounds here; is there a market for premium ExpressionEngine themes? Who knows. I hope so, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the traffic and hype converts to actual sales.

What do you think?