I get to work on all sorts of websites here at PLAYXPERT. Sometimes it’s just maintenance and sometimes I get to develop sites from the ground up. The technologies used can vary widely by project and range from PHP or ASP.NET most commonly to Ruby on Rails and also some HTML5 for mobile sites. I want to talk a little bit about the development of this website in particular, services.playxpert.com.
We built this website using a content management system (CMS) called Expression Engine (EE). It is a PHP-based framework and I was a bit leery at first at using a new PHP framework. I prefer .NET over PHP any day of the week and I can only remember one other PHP framework that I actually liked (CakePHP for those who want to know). Regardless, I started digging into learning how to build a website with EE.
The big plus side for me was that I didn’t have to write any PHP. I had full control over all the HTML, CSS, and content without writing a single line of code. Getting used to EE was a bit slow at first. I would say the biggest hurdle was learning all the ins and outs of the templating system. Their documentation can be a bit terse at times (from someone who loves all the nitty gritty details), but their forums are generally pretty helpful. Once I got past that, setting up my templates the way I wanted them and tying them to my content channels was pretty quick. I worked on another EE site later for a client where I had to develop a module (in PHP) to process payments through EE and I found the EE APIs quite straightforward and simple to work with.
Creating a custom website is all about finding the balance between leveraging existing tools and writing custom code. With a CMS like EE, most of the base-level code is included so that I, as a developer, can focus on creating an ideal user experience instead of coding the same nuts and bolts that every good site has. Overall, I was really pleased with how this website turned out and the development experience with using EE.