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All entries filed under “Ask the Readers”

Ask the Readers: How do you nav?

This edition of Ask the Readers comes via Twitter by Ryan Battles. Ryan asked:

Chime in via Twitter or in the comments with your thoughts, ideas and experience managing navigation.

Posted on Mar 04, 2012 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

How You’re Publishing with ExpressionEngine

Here are the results of the poll I put up earlier this month. The idea behind the poll was to find out how many people are publishing with third party tools and how many just stick with the Control Panel.

The response rate was lower than what I had hoped for but the data still gives a glimpse at how people are publishing content to their ExpressionEngine sites.

The Results

I suspected that the majority publish their sites via the EE Control Panel and not with third party publishing tools like MarsEdit, Ecto, Textmate or even iExpression. My suspicions were proven true with the results.

As you can see, some do use external tools to publish content but their lack of support for mimicking the Control Panel publishing interface is surely whey they’re not more widely adopted. Additionally, with the introduction of customized publish layouts (no matter how fragile they still might be, 2 years later), developers and users of ExpressionEngine can now tailor their publish forms to be exactly what they need to them to be and therefore the entire Control Panel experience becomes more useful. This, perhaps, diminishes the need for another editor.

The biggest reason, of course, is that the web browser is cross platform. I can post content to my site from any computer or device with a web browser. Ultimately, this is the most flexible solution (and the most realistic if you’re building sites for clients).

However, the EE Control Panel still fails miserably on mobile devices (maybe one day EllisLab will create a responsive theme by default; until then, check out this one by Ben Croker) If you really need to post to your site from your iPhone, you should also check out iExpression, a native iOS app that lets you publish content to EE. For what it’s worth, the Control Panel works okay on the iPad if you just need to jump in for a quick tweak or edit. Anything beyond that will probably result in furstration.

Operating System

I asked for the primary operating system just to use it as a data point to measure the other results (like the use of MarsEdit, an OS X only application). Surprisingly, the usage of OS X among the respondants was almost 80% while the use of MarsEdit (any use at all in the past) was only 5%. That means even Mac users, despite such a great app like MarsEdit, are still favoring the Control Panel. That was surprising to me.

Why only the Control Panel?

The last question I asked in the survey was why the respondent preferred the Control Panel over other methods of publishing. I got a lot of responses that said they didn’t know about other offerings. Some felt that the Control Panel was the “easiest way” and “good enough.”

It’s readily available once EE is installed, and doesn’t require any extra configuration/development. It’s also the most “guaranteed to work” way to post content.

The ability of external editors to support fieldtypes also came up, like this one:

Full fieldtype support. No external editor supports fieldtypes like Matrix, Assets, Playa, etc.

and this one:

Why not? It’s a good overall experience with all the custom fieldtypes, publish page configurations, entry revisioning, etc. Keeping to just the Control Panel means I can jump on any system anywhere to post/edit content. Hooking up external sources is just another cost/hassle to install & keep up with as both platforms evolve.

This response addressed another tool I use but didn’t mention in the poll:

I actually use the control panel, but use QuickCursor to send any long content bits to my editor-of-choice, in this case MacVim. The reason I use the control panel is that in my experiences with other methods, it wasn’t always easy to get all the custom bits working properly when you go beyond just a simple blog. And now that I’m using the Structure plugin, I don’t think an external editor would be of much use to me at all.

I love QuickCursor and use it whenever I have to write something of length (like a message in Basecamp) in the web browser.

With publish layouts and Zoo Admin, I can quickly make a user-friendly workflow that’s easy to maintain.

I’ve used Zoo Admin and it is indeed a nice way to customize the CP for those who will be maintaining the site.

That was only a sampling of all of the responses but the general trend was that either people didn’t know about external editors or those that did thought it was just too much of hassle (or tradeoff ) to set one up. A few people even suggested I further cover external editors and how to use them. That sounds like a great idea, so look for something in the near future.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!

ExpressionEngine 2012 Wishlist Feedback

Yesterday I asked you for your wishes for ExpressionEngine in 2012. The feedback is mixed (keep it coming!) but there was more than one mention of easier upgrades and a one-click update process (like WordPress).

As is usually the case with software, I’m sure this is easier said than done but I agree that it needs to be done. I sincerely hope that this will be on the radar for the EllisLab development in the coming year (and hopefully before EE3).

Posted on Jan 07, 2012 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Ask the Readers, EllisLab, ExpressionEngine 2

Ask the Readers: Your EE 2012 Wishlist

Ask the Readers We’re nearly a week into the new year and it’s already been a little crazy. I’m just now thinking about my ideas for ExpressionEngine in 2012.

The last two years have been pretty big for ExpressionEngine: EE 2.0 beta, EE 2.1, all of the problems in between, and then the big EE 2.2 and 2.3 releases. There’s certainly a lot to be happy about and all of us probably wish for something else.

I am not into predictions but I do have wishes. And I certainly have wishes for ExpressionEngine. But I’m just one person. You, dear readers, are multiple persons. What’s on your mind?

What do you want to see from ExpressionEngine in 2012?

Posted on Jan 06, 2012 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: When do you upgrade?

Ask the Readers Last week I wrote my opinion on the recent EE2 release issues and recommended that those who are gun shy to wait until upgrading.

Some readers shared their thoughts but I want to ask everyone: do you upgrade to each new build or release immediately or wait?

Share you thoughts and experience upgrading in the comments.

Posted on Apr 19, 2011 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: How Do You Sell EE?

Ask the Readers There is a wide range of ways to pitch ExpressionEngine as a CMS. Some people use EE as a differentiator, saying they are an EE-only shop, and clients choose them partly for that reason. Others will wait to pitch EE until after they’ve landed the gig, maybe letting the client choose from among a few different options. And there are plenty of other scenarios in between those two extremes.

My question for you is: How do you pitch ExpressionEngine to your clients? Is it an easy sell or sometimes a challenge? Does it figure into your initial pitch to land the client? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: Your Default Add-Ons

Ask the Readers Friend of the site Kenny Meyers brought up an interesting question via Twitter last night that I thought would make a good “Ask the Readers” question:

Kenny asks:

Now is a good time to ask: What are your EE2 add-on defaults?

So, readers, if I may borrow his question and ask it in a different venue: What are the EE2 add-ons you always install every time you set up EE?. For me, it’s Textile and not much else, though I rarely get through a site without purchasing and installing Matrix, so that one may as well be a default for me. What about you?

Posted on Feb 02, 2011 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: Choosing an Add-On

Ask the Readers If you happened to already have listened to the latest EE Podcast you might recall Ryan and Lea talking about how they decide if an add-on is something they are willing to add to the site they are building. There are a lot of factors that go into this kind of decision: Whether the developer will continue to support the add-on, any potential performance drawbacks, does it make the clients life incredibly easier, etc.

My question for today’s “Ask the Readers” segment is: Do you have a process for deciding what kinds of add-ons you will install? What reasons might you have for avoiding an add-on?

Posted on Jan 19, 2011 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: Fusion

Ask the Readers I saw a tweet from Michael Roling where he gives a sneak peek at what he’s using his EE2 freelancer license that he got with his Fusion Ads Holiday Bundle. That got me thinking… I wonder what other people are using it for?

So, if you happened to jump on that great deal from Fusion Ads for the holidays, what are you using your new EE2 license for?

Posted on Jan 04, 2011 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: User Guides

Ask the Readers Yesterday I posted a link to a post on Design Litmus about creating screencast user guides for your clients. That got me thinking: I wonder what other people do for user guides? I’ll bet others wonder this too, and what better venue to find out than making an Ask the Readers post!

The options for user guides are myriad. Some people create rich PDFs, like the ones from Headspace Design. Others, like Matt at Design Litmus, shoot screencasts and include them as accessories in the control panel. Then again, David in the comments from yesterday maintains that you’re “doing it wrong” if your client needs anything more than a well-organized site with simple inline documentation.

I’m sure there are more ideas than these, so today’s question is simple: How do you equip your clients to use the ExpressionEngine site you built for them?

Posted on Nov 11, 2010 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: Multiple Site Manager

Ask the Readers The Latest EE Podcast about Multiple Site Manager got me thinking that MSM would make a great topic for an “Ask the Readers” feature. I remember when EllisLab debuted MSM and it kind of blew my mind. What a wild idea, being able to run lots of websites from the same installation. What a dream! Over time, though, I have only had the opportunity to use it once or twice.

My questions to you the reader: Do you use Multiple Site Manager? How is it working out for you? Anything in particular EllisLab could do to make it better?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Posted on Nov 03, 2010 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: EE Conferences

Ask the Readers In the past seven days there have been no less than two conferences devoted to ExpressionEngine: ExpressionEngine Camp in Denver and Engine Summit 2. And less than a month ago EECI took place.

ExpressionEngine has a thriving community who doesn’t seem to hesitate to organize conferences, big and small, in person or online. My question for you today is actually three questions: Have you ever been to an ExpressionEngine conference? Do you prefer one conference style over another? Do you have plans to attend any in 2011?

Posted on Oct 27, 2010 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: WYSIWYG or WYSINQWYG?

Ask the Readers Some clients can’t live without a Microsoft Word toolbar in every text field, some prefer to write all the HTML themselves, and others live and die by Textile or Markdown. Maybe you quote all your projects with a WYSIWYG editor for text formatting, or maybe you train clients that What You See is Not Quite What You Get.

Now that there are some really good options for text formatting in ExpressionEngine, what do you prefer? Do you always use a WYSIWYG for your projects or do you prefer some other option like XHTML or Textile?

Share your text editing strategy in the comments.

Posted on Oct 07, 2010 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: Your Favorite EE 2 Add-on

Ask the Readers EE 2.1 has been out for a couple of weeks and we’re starting to see a lot of new add-ons released. It’s exciting to see developers coding some great stuff that will make using EE 2 just as great as using EE 1.

At this early point in the life of EE 2, what is your favorite EE 2 add-on? Is there one that wasn’t available for EE 1.6 that you like?

Let us know in the comments.

Posted on Jul 27, 2010 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Ask the Readers

Ask the Readers: Will you upgrade now?

Ask the ReadersA lot of people have said that they are waiting for such and such add-ons or the final release of EE 2 before they upgrade. Well, most of the popular add-ons have been ported to EE 2 and the final release of EE 2 is here.

Now that you’ve had time to wait it out, we’d like to know: will you be moving to ExpressionEngine 2 for your websites?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Posted on Jul 13, 2010 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Ask the Readers