MODx Revolution for Complete Beginners Part 3 – Basic Configuration and Installing Extras
Welcome to Part 3 of the MODx Revolution for Complete Beginners series. In the last installment, we went through the step by step process of installing MODx Revolution. In this post, we’re going to do some basic site configuration. We will also explore installing extras from the MODx repository. This post will just cover the basics, and you will find that as you explore more the Revolution Manager has a lot of options to configure, but we’re just going to look at the basics and then return to different parts of the manager and explore them as we need to interact with them.
Setting Site Name and other Settings
Depending on your website and how complex it’s going to be, you will need to a certain amount of site configuration to make your website behave and function like you want it to.
The first thing we want to set in our newly installed MODx Revolution website is the site name. If you look at the title bar of the browser with the site open, it just defaults to the generic MODx Revolution name.
We obviously want to change this to reflect the name of our website. The site name setting and other settings are found in the System Settings section of the manager, which can be accessed by clicking on System and scrolling down to System Settings.
This page presents all the system settings available to us in MODx Revolution in a grid. You can see that there are numerous settings here, and you even have the option to create your own setting 🙂 Going through each and every one of these settings is outside the scope of this tutorial, but there are excellent resources that I recommend you explore to learn more about system settings in MODx Revolution. One is a video by Shaun McCormick and the other is the official MODx documentation on the topic. Links to both of these resources and more are at the end of this post.
For now, the settings we’re interested in are the Site settings, and we can narrow these down using the filtering facility.
Clicking on the dropdown area in the Filter by Area field allows us to narrow down to the settings we want. In the list, select Site to show just the site related settings.
At the top of the settings pages, you are given some guidance on how to learn more about each setting and how to edit it:
Here you can set general preferences and configuration settings for the MODx manager interface, as well as how your MODx site runs. Double-click on the value column for the setting you’d like to edit to dynamically edit via the grid, or right-click on a setting for more options. You can also click the “+” sign for a description of the setting.
So to edit the site name we simply doubleclick in the name field and it becomes editable, and we can now delete the current contents and replace them with our site name, in this case “Learn MODx Revolution”. Once you finish editing, press the enter key and the page takes a moment to update and should then reflect the new site name.
If we now take a look at the title bar, it should reflect the actual name of the website, and not the generic default that was there before.
This is just a simple example of editing a system setting, but as you look through the settings, you will find that there are many other settings that you can edit with varying levels of complexity. I will be returning to these in future tutorials as we need them, but also be sure to check the additional reading linked to below.
The other thing that we need to familiarize ourselves with in MODx Revolution is how to install extras. Extras include snippets, plugins, templates, and other third party components that enhance our website’s function and look. There are plenty of extras in the MODx repository and developers out there are constantly developing more.
One of the sweet things about Revolution as opposed to Evolution is just how easy it is to install extras into a Revolution website. You no longer need to download the zip file, upload the files, and then go through the copy pasting process that was part of installing extras into Evolution.
In the manager, click on System and in the dropdown select Package Management. You are presented with a page where you can manage your extras and packages, add new ones, install downloaded ones, etc. At the moment, our list is empty since we have not downloaded any extras to our site. To add a new one, click on Download Extras.
If you click on the little arrow on the Download Extras button, you will a dropdown with two options.
These two options are things you don’t need to worry about at the moment. But in brief, the first option allows you to select a provider other than the default modx.com for your packages, and the second one allows you to install packages that you’ve downloaded directly to your computer rather than installing them from an online repository. For more on this see Two Ways to Install MODX Revolution Extras.
For now though, and for the purposes of this tutorial, just click on the Download Extras button directly.
You are presented with a page showing you the most popular extras as well the newest ones in the repository on the right, and the browser on the left.
As you can see, the available extras that you can download to your site are divided into three categories:
- Extras – these are functional bits and pieces that are not part of the MODx core, such as galleries, menu builders, tagging snippets, etc. They do not change the core but simply add functionality or extend the core. If you click on this category, you will find the extras are further subdivided into subcategories for easier navigation.
- FrontEnd Templates – These are ready made templates that are packaged for an easy install and setup. If you don’t want to build/port your own template you can grab one of these and play with them, use them as they are, or modify them to suit your needs.
- Manager Templates – These are backend templates to change the look of your manager. These will affect just the look, not the functioning, of your manager.
I encourage you to look through each of these categories and explore the available packages.
Installing an addon/extra/package is pretty straightforward. For example, say we want to install a rich text editor (RTE), all we have to do is click on the Extras folder to expand it, scroll down to the Rich Text Editors, and clicking on that reveals what RTE extras are available.
You can find out more about the package by clicking on View Details or click on Download to go ahead and download it. Once the extra has successfully downloaded, the Download buttons disappears. You can go on to download other packages that you need, and once you’re done, click on the Back to Package Management button at the top.
This takes you back to the Package Management page where you can now install the downloaded extra(s) so that you can use them.
The installer will ask you to accept the license, click Continue, and then will proceed to install the selected addon. If there are no errors or problems, the OK button will appear you can click on it and be returned to the Package Management page which will show the addon listed. It should have a set of buttons for uninstalling it, reinstalling it, checking for updates, etc. Additionally, if you now look under the Plugins list under the Elements tab on the sidebar, you will see the new addon we just installed listed there.
Pretty simple, ay? That should do it for this post.
PS: Quick note for XAMPP users, if you have trouble installing addons, ensure that cURL is turned on in your XAMPP setup. Thanks for Kenny for pointing this out in the comments 🙂
What we have done in this installment is look a bit at the MODx Revolution manager, looking briefly at how to access the system settings and specifically the site settings so we could set the site name. We have also looked at how we go about installing extras from the MODx repository.
Knowing these basics will pave the way for future work when we need to quickly install addons or change settings on our website as we continue with the build. I strongly strongly recommend that you look through the more reading resources listed at the end of this post, watch the screencasts, and look through the documentation so that you can understand the manager backend and the system settings better.
In the next installment we’re going to add some pages to our website and then start templating it. We will not be using a prebuilt MODx template from the repository but will instead start with an HTML/CSS template and port it into MODx Revolution, using it as an opportunity to learn the MODx Revolution tag syntax.
If you have any questions/ideas/corrections or just want to say hello, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time, enjoy exploring! 🙂
System Settings Overview – Screencast and documentation http://rtfm.modx.com/display/revolution20/System+Settings
Introducing MODx Revolution – Screencast looks at the manager backend – http://codingpad.maryspad.com/2009/12/21/exploring-modx-revolution/
Installing a Package – Official Documentation – http://rtfm.modx.com/display/revolution20/Installing+a+Package
Go to Part 4: Working with MODX Revolution Templates