I use both of these systems all the time. They’re both outstanding, but they do differ somewhat. I made this chart to help describe those differences, and I hope this will help you if you’re considering both systems, but aren’t sure which one to choose. It’s not a scientific survey, it’s an opinionated comparison of the systems based on having a lot of experience with both, and is mainly intended for the newbie. My angle is that I’ve completed a lot of paid jobs with both systems, and I’m coming from the theme developer, CSS, and general site construction perspective. Programmers will take a different view. I hope you find it informative. Enjoy!
I had previously said that it’s easier to make complex menus with MODx. But with the appearance and improvement of WordPress Custom Menus, WordPress works well for this.
Note as of 4/11 – now MODx comes in two versions, so this has muddied the waters a bit. Evo is the well-established previous version, and Revo is the newer version with nice stuff like better multi-site support, auto-updating of plugins, more stuff for programmers, etc. I’ve added a few notes about Revo below.
MODX update as of 2/12 – Revo 2.2 has added some good improvements. The Manager (admin) has some better usability features, and sucks less now. The developers, none of whom seem to be user interface people, would disagree with me, but I still say it’s better for programmers than for end-users. Some gains: the interface for installing and upgrading plugins is nicer. There are still messages generated that only a sysadmin could love, but it does work pretty well. I did notice that I’d try to click on an Upgrade button and sometimes nothing would happen. Pretty annoying. At first I thought an upstream provider was dead and there just wasn’t any “progress icon”, but it actually seems that clicking some buttons will cause them to move but not actually click – a downside of living and dying by Ajax. With more clicks I finally managed to get all my plugins upgraded, hooray! Screens for editing what they call Resources, Elements, and Files are improved and easier to look at. (Note the nomenclature – very engineerish). At some point they decided to spell MODX with “all caps” – a bit callow, and sounds like a marketing consultant suggested it.
I’ll keep up with MODX changes as best I can, but after formerly making a majority of my sites with MODX (mostly with Evo), more than ever I’m doing almost exclusively WordPress now. Some of my best clients have also moved to WordPress after deciding they like Evo but not Revo. That’s not to say it’s a bad system – it’s great, but it’s still young, and by comparison the amount of resources available for WordPress is absolutely staggering now, for developers and end users. The days of WordPress being strictly for blogging are long gone.
Some of the complaints I’ve seen about this article are of the standard fanboy variety from either side. This tells me that I’m probably onto something. If someone is a devotee of one system, and has only installed the other system, looked around a little, listened to rumors, and said “meh”, their opinion can be weighed accordingly. For a more in-depth review by a really smart guy who does use both systems, check out Everett’s article.
An important point: what I’m describing below is self-installed WordPress, downloadable from wordpress.org. There are many blogs and sites running on wordpress.com, which is a paid platform that is nice for a turnkey site and hosting solution, but does not have nearly the flexibility of the open-source version.
Blogging very simple blog using Ditto with Evo, limited functionality. Revo has a scheme that looks more attractive, and well, more blog-like. It still takes some work to set up, unlike WP. State-of-the-art, built-in comments, archives, categories, tagging, and much more WP
Documentation Starting with Revo, the documentation is much improved. Still, it's very incomplete. A published book by the excellent Bob Ray came out which will help a lot of people. Loads of quality documentation on wordpress.org. Tutorials are highly plentiful all over the internet. Plenty of books available on nearly any WP subject. WP
Templating Extremely strong and flexible - almost infinite, MODx beats any system I've used in this. very flexible, somewhat more work due to need to accommodate bloggish structure MODx for speed of building, but WP has MANY more free and paid themes available. many companies specialize in paid WP themes, and theme frameworks are available for developers. To code a WP theme, it takes somewhat more time than making a MODx theme.
Custom fields in content the TV (template variable) makes this incredibly flexible, almost any type of content can be stuck anywhere. Custom fields available. Some php coding may be required. Widgets can sometimes be used for this. MODx, but WP has pretty much caught up.
Editing Tiny, FCK, others available Tiny, FCK, others available. This implementation is prettier, and more plugins available. Plugin variety and quantity very good enormous, many many developers, pre-built stuff for almost anything. Caveat: sometimes a plug-in won't work with a particular theme. It's also worth remembering that many plugins can only be set and updated by the super admin. WP. One thing to remember: plugins, while great, may vary in quality and reliability. Coding skills are helpful for fixing or modifying them. You are now reading the output of one of the best WP plugins, WP-Table-Reloaded!
Permissions good, using document groups and more by using ManagerManager plugin. can be quite difficult to set up, though. Revo has a brand new scheme, and it's still tough to use. You've been warned. very good, very granular if using plugins. WP. If you're looking for permissions to be the most important part of your system, you're likely to be unhappy with either system, unless you are willing to put in the work.
Document structure uses flexible folders paradigm. Revo, it should be noted, has changed the interface, although the folder idea is still there - personally, I don't like it much yet, and prefer Evo's interface. Hardcore programmers seem to love it, though. Pages used for static pages that go in menu, Posts for bloggish "latest news" content Updating system pretty easy, download/upload, run the update. Revo has now introduced the auto-update for plugins (not the whole system) - it's still beta-ish, but is often excellent. extremely easy: now WP itself, themes, and plugins all updateable and searchable through admin! WP, with caveat that plugins are a bit more sensitive to WP upgrades
Forms Evo had eForm - very capable, but very labor-intensive to set up, no GUI. Revo has FormIt, which is a step in the right direction. When I made forms for Evo, I used the paid MachForms script and pulled the forms in via a snippet call, much quicker for building forms than eForm. Several free plugins work well. Paid ones, like Gravity Forms, are even better. Loads of form plugins available. WP
Photo handling Maxigallery for Evo is very flexible, some work to set up and more to template. Maxi is not available for Revo - there are a couple Revo galleries in development, but they're still very new and rudimentary. many plugins from super easy Auto Thickbox plugin to enormous NextGen gallery. There are incredible paid sliders available at Code Canyon. Some WP galleries may not work with certain themes. WP
Multimedia handling some plugins available, some work to set up many plugins for audio, video, etc. WP
Ecommerce some plugins, can set up manually with Ditto for small site, 3rd party Foxy Cart for more functionality with a quality shopping cart. plugins needed for this. Cart66 is a paid plugin with an excellent reputation. Shopp is also popular. Resist the temptation to go cheap with WP-Ecommerce unless you don't mind bugs. other competitors are emerging all the time. WP
SEO can be done with TV's per page good plugins available WP
Security updates usually available pretty quickly if problem found. issues updates fast, but WP is much more popular, so it's a much bigger target. MODx
Content management extremely flexible can be used as CMS, somewhat more set-up needed to get around bloggish structure, yet many are using WP for content management now. MODx
Moving sites very easy for Evo. Revo has introduced a bit more complexity that can trip you up, but it's still good. somewhat less easy due to fewer relative file paths. beginners often have trouble moving WP sites. MODx
Hello, Michael, just showing a merged cell example! I merged all four, but you could do fewer as well. Cheers!