Win a Copy of the MODx Web Development book and more – Blog Contest

Welcome to the first ever Coding Pad Blog Contest!! We’re giving away some stuff – so read on!

What’s the occasion? – None really, just thought it would be cool to celebrate the  MODx Content Management Framework/System

What’s my goal? – To get more exposure for MODx and to get more people interested in MODx and it’s power and flexibility.  And ofcourse, to invite more interaction on the Coding Pad 🙂

What’s up for grabs?

  • A copy of the MODx Web Development book by Antonio Solar John.  This is the first ever MODx book in the English language.  I currently have three copies to give away to three winners, but hope to get more in the coming days.
  • In addition to the book, the top winning entry will also get a namecheap account with $20 credit (you can use this for purchasing domain names) and a three month membership to the tuts+ network!
  • In addition to the book, the second winning entry will get a three month membership to the tuts+ network.
  • In addition to the book, the third winning entry will get an opportunity for some free MODx consulting from‘s Shane Sponagle, an experienced MODx Developer.  You get to choose from one of two consulting options: an analysis of your MODx website with a report on how to improve your website, or 2 hours of email support consulting.  You will have three months from the day the contest ends to utilize the consultation.
  • The fourth and fifth winning entries will each get a one month membership to the tuts+ network

I anticipate that I will have more prizes to offer to the winning entries, and to allow more winning entries.

How to Enter? – Well, herein lies the rub.  Most blog contests require you to just leave a comment.  This one is slightly different, you will actually need to do some work to get the prize, but it’s not too hard.  Here is what you need to do:

Following the tutorials that I’ve posted here about MODx, or any other resource of your choice, build a simple website using MODx and submit the url of your website to the contest.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or complex, it can be as simple as you please :), in fact the simpler and more straightforward, the better; but it does need to have at least three pages, and some sort of navigation.  Incorporate the features we’ve talked about in this series – chunks, snippets, etc.

For your submission to qualify, you will need to:

  • First leave a comment on this post stating that you’re in!
  • In your submission, mention the url of the website you built;
  • mention the template you chose and its source, and why you chose it;
  • talk a little about the snippets you used; and
  • mention what resources you found most useful in building your website;
  • mention something interesting that you learned about MODx while building the website;
  • share a cool MODx tip for the readers.

You can use a free template from one of the sources we mentioned in the templating MODx post.  You can also use a free host for your sample website if you don’t have a hosting account.

Why so much work? – Because the point of this contest is to expose more people to the power and flexibility of MODx, and you won’t really learn about MODx if you don’t actually use it :).  It’s easy to write a comment, but I am intensely interested in seeing people actually do some hands on stuff and use MODx.  And I want the ebooks to go to people who will actually make use of them because they have a genuine interest in learning MODx.

How long will the contest run? – The contest will run for four weeks from the time of this posting to give everyone time to set everything up and submit your entry.  I request that you submit sites made within this timeframe to be fair to all entrants.  To get started, remember you must first leave a comment on this post letting me know that you’re in!

I will post any updates to the prize lists and such, so make sure you’re subscribed!

About the Sponsors:


Packt Publishing have generously agreed to donate two copies of the MODx Web Development book for this contest.  If you’re a reader of this blog you know that I am a fan of Packtpub books and have reviewed a few here.

Our books and publications share the experiences of your fellow IT professionals in adapting and customizing today’s systems, applications, and frameworks. Our solutions-based books give you the knowledge and power to customize the software and technologies you’re using to get the job done. Packt books are more specific and less general than the IT books you have seen in the past. Our unique business model allows us to bring you more focused information, giving you more of what you need to know, and less of what you don’t.

Packt is a modern, unique publishing company with a focus on producing cutting-edge books for communities of developers, administrators, and newbies alike.

One of the things I love the most about Packt, and that makes me purchase their books, is that they believe in and support the Open Source movement.  When Packt sells a book written on an Open Source project, they pay a royalty directly to that project. As a result of purchasing one of their Open Source books, Packt will have given some of the money received to the Open Source project.

Shane Sponagle has generously donated free MODx consultancy services for one of the lucky winners.  Shane Sponagle of is a freelance MODx Developer who is dedicated to providing professional development and consulting services.  He works on projects including (but not limited to): upgrading MODx, add-on setup and configuration, template coding, as well as custom add-on (snippet, plug-in and module) development.

Tuts+ network has donated two three-month memberships to the tuts+ network.  Tuts+ offer sites on a range of creative niches including Photoshop and Graphics, Vectors and Illustration, Web Development and Design, Motion Graphics and Audio Production.  Becoming a Plus member gives you access to bonus tutorials, sample files and downloads every week across multiple Tuts+ sites, where you get to learn from the best!

If you’re interested in sponsoring this contest by donating one or more copies of the ebook, or any other goodies, so that I can have more winners, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I am really looking forward to all your submissions!!


46 thoughts on “Win a Copy of the MODx Web Development book and more – Blog Contest”

  1. Great contest. I already have the book so I will not participate. But i’m look forward to seeing the entries. Good luck to all participants, and kudos to Mary for for the initiative 🙂

    Packt rocks 🙂

  2. Welcome aboard Paul and SebastianS, thanks for taking up the challenge! Looking forward to your entries.


  3. I’ll commit too and I hope I can win this thing.

    1) Site built:
    2) Template used: Created my own template from scratch because of branding reasons
    3) Snippets used: Easypoll, Wayfinder.
    4) Useful resources: Google Analytics plugin, QuickEdit Module, Doc Manager module and more
    5) Something I learned about MODx during the site development: I was amazed to learn that I could back up my database from within MODx and that I could access another database from MODX. That’s simply powerful.
    Quick MODx tip: Another way to optimize your keyword prominence is to place your description and Keyword tags right after the title tag. The way to achieve this is by using TVs instead of the default mechanism. You would need 2 TVs: metaDescription and metaKeywords in which you would need to add your keywords/description.

    Here’s a sample placeholder:



  4. HI Mary, Great contest I am surprised you don’t have more entrants. I will give it a try but feel like I would make a fool of myself. If I get something started I will add more information.

    1. Ian,

      You should definitely jump in… you can’t possibly make a fool of yourself. Remember my criteria? Simple is good. The idea is to learn and have fun, not to create a masterpiece! I look forward to an entry from you.


  5. Nice touch; since I’m already getting two free copies of the book, I’ll stay out of it, although it’s tempting just for the challange!

    1. sottwell

      thanks for dropping by! Your website is a great MODx resource!

      Even if you don’t submit an entry, I hope you’ll drop by and leave us some MODx tips!


  6. 1. Site:
    2. Template: Self Designed
    3.a. Snippets: Ditto, Sitemap, Google Analytics
    3.b. Custom Snippet – documentID
    return $id;

    Use in a Ditto filter call to filter out the current document from being displayed in the “More Blog..” and “More Featured…” sections of the site as in:

    &filter=`id,12,2|id,[[documentID]],2` (Document 12 is the tags document, which you do not want to display either). When you are viewing a full blog or featured work post, the entry your viewing will not reappear in the “more…” lists.

    3.c. Plugins – ManagerManager
    Use ManagerManager to customize the back end for users. In this case, when users use the Blog template, there is a Blog tab with all the pertinent fields (including the Content RTE usually found in the General Tab) as well as template variables for Author and Image.

    In addition, there is an SEO tab for each page in which users can manage sitemap.xml settings as well keywords and descriptions appropriately placed in templates.

    4. Mostly got tips from the MODx forums and trial and error.

    5. I learned to learn all about Ditto asap. It is a central part of MODx and gives developers incredible flexibility. In another site ( I used Ditto (with ManagerManager for the interface) to build the Events sections as well as the Blog section. Using Ditto’s templates and ManagerManager in combination with Template Variables, users are able to add and schedule events by filling in the information in the Events tab in the back end. The information is automatically presented appropriately on the front end. Events that are no longer valid disappear automatically.

    6. MODx Tip: Randomize Ditto entries.
    Use $randomize=`1` to randomize a Ditto entry. This is done on the home page so that the Featured item is entirely random each time the home page is visited.

  7. Treigh and rx2, thanks for your submissions. I get the feeling that you’re both seasoned MODx’ers, so thanks for participating! Hope you won’t mind if we ask about how you implemented some of the features on your sites. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to seeing more submissions, especially from those who are new to MODx!!

    Thanks all! Let’s keep this rolling!


  8. Where to begin? I’ve built about 30 sites using MODx, so I suppose I’ll enter the contest with my own site.

    1) I don’t use templates with MODx. I hand code everything myself.
    2) Snippets – Ditto (3 versions/chunks, including one within a jQuery Accordion Menu), Wayfinder, Jot (customized), Reflect, eForm, eNewsletter, QuickEdit.
    3) I always use the Forums and Repository to find new things for each project, as needed.
    4) I’ve learned a lot about integrating MODx with jQuery (not a programmer) using accordions, tabs and lightboxes. Don’t mix jQuery with Sciptaculous (or others) – they don’t play well together.
    5) Tip – hmmm? For beginners, design your site / template as if it were a static / brochure-style site. Once finished, integrate the snippets where needed. And don’t be afraid to create multiple templates for specialized content. My site uses 4 templates.

  9. New and not new. Been using it for awhile but only now discovering more of it’s potential. Happy to answer any questions I can.

  10. @Treigh Oh My God dude, what a great design!! I just love it! Congrats to all the participants, I’ve already have the book. Packt Rocks!!!

  11. Wow, some good prizes up for grabs..

    I am trying to build a client login system with modx is that allowed to enter? I would just give a sample name and pass.

    Also, is the winner selected by you or at random?

    I’ve never used modx so this will be interesting.

    I’ve used Modx in the past, but merely as a content editor, so I took this competition as a chance for me to launch a personal website while exploring Modx features.
    Template – Simple custom design. I chose this design for its simplicity and style.

    Snippets – Wayfinder, eForm, and Sitemap. Wayfinder is awesome for making any list or menu. Sitemap was a snippet I found in the Modx repository that creates a sitemap for google and for site viewers. Eform is a powerful form tool useful for any form you may need.

    Resources – By far the most helpful Modx resource is the Modx website. Between the Modx wiki pages and the Modx forum, you can figure out how to do anything Modx.

    What I learned – While building the site, I learned a lot about Wayfinder and Eform that I didn’t know in the past.

    Cool Tip – Eform can validate the data entered into form fields and prompt the user to correct any errors before submission.

  13. Meshach,

    Thanks for your question. That’s a tricky one. I think that in fairness to all other entrants, it is only appropriate that the entry be a website with at least 3 pages as stated in the original criteria that I set out 🙂

    But I hope that you’ll feel free to share any lessons learned in the process, or even build something similar but framed in a website that you can enter into the contest.


  14. Oh bummer, I wanted that tutsplus! 😛

    I won’t be able to enter this contest because of a hectic amount of work but I will let you know of anything learned in the process of building the client system.

    Thanks anyways for the contest, good luck to the entrants.

  15. @iPad Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you like the site. I hope to win the book.

  16. This is my first try to make site with MODxCMS.
    I am not very good in design, CSS and PHP, but with some help of forums on and I build such simple site.
    1. Template I use from Multiflex3 because it is very plain and simple to implemente;
    2. Snippets: menu – Wayfinder, Breadcrumbs, Ditto for news and tryed Ditto+Reflect but with some mistakes, so I dont use it yet, ListIndexer with my modification, AjaxSearch, GoogleMap, FirstChildRedirect;
    3. Custom TV: imageTV for news small trumbs, keywordsTV for keywords.
    4. Resources – forum and repository and, forums and errors, my and others mistakes.
    5. What I learned: first modx is very simple, but need to use your fingers, great community, I had troubles with menu, but with forums help I understood some tricks. Needed some learning in CSS to adopt template. But I need more knowledges and deeper learning.
    6. Tips – very usefull Plugin PHx to verify placeholders and change they values, output formating, use custom TV for keywords and integrate it to templates (like [*keywordsTV*] )
    Site info in Lithuanian, sorry.

    1. Careem,

      thanks for all the feedback. There’s still some time before the contest comes to a close, so get to work! 🙂


    1. Are you entering the site to the contest? If so, you need some more information for your entry to qualify. Please check the post for more details. 🙂


  17. Sounds fun. I’m not really much of a self promoter but I love the MODx cms and if nothing else some visitors here might be inspired by my site.

    Good Luck everyone!

    1. Thanks for your comment. This competition is not about self promotion, but rather it’s about learning and sharing and showing what people with differing levels of knowledge can create with MODx.

      Your link is to a professional service that you offer, and is most definitely self promotion, which is okay too. We’re all learning and sharing.


  18. Here’s my entry:

    The website is a port to the MODx CMS system from a website I recently designed for myself. I split my time between real estate and web designing/developing (My company is Mercer Marketing). Most of the conversion follows the lesson’s presented here, with a few other resources (listed below).

    Here’s what I’m doing:
    1. The “My Properties” section is nothing more than a page with a Ditto call: [[Ditto?parents=`10` &depth=`1` &tpl=`property_template` &filter=`prop_status,Available,1` &sortBy=`menuindex` &sortDir=`ASC`]]
    a. The property template is obviously a chunk that is xhtml/css formatted and has all Template Variables I created (see next point).
    b. I then filter the ditto call by the property status (another TV) and then is sorted by the way it looks in the document tree.
    2. The template variables I used:
    a. Property Title, Bed, Bath, City, Description, Price, MLS #, & Open House time are just text-based TVs.
    b. The Main Image TV is a image TV (No auto-sizing functionality-that’s something I need to learn).
    c. The Map field is just text, but is passed to a modal window via Shadow box. Click on any “Map to Home” to see it open.
    d. Property Status is a drop down TV (by Available, Sold and Buyer Represented).
    e. Open House is a calendar TV, which I leaned CANNOT have an “_” in the TV name or else will cause problems. I lost a lot of hair over this one.
    3. TVs & PHx. I used the PHx modx plugin to create conditional TVs. For example, if no info/data is entered into the website, Open House and Description TVs, they will not show up AND the xhtml code is removed so there’s no awkward extra space where the TV was supposed to be. Here’s a sample call in the chunk that is called by Ditto:

    4. All the menu’s are basic wayfinder calls.
    a. The top menu uses: “&rowIdPrefix=`nav`” and then I updated my css with the id’s given by wayfinder.
    b. The footer wayfinder calls are just basic calls.
    c. “My Specialties” is a wayfinder call with the row template “&rowTpl=`nolink`”. Those are landing pages I’m currently developing copy for.
    5. Blog is not really a blog at this point (to develop in the future), but a news feed from the National Association of Realtors. I used PieX to access and format the feed.

    Here’s my running to do list for my website:
    1. Enable Google analytics via ModX snippet that also doesn’t count when I access the page. I’m currently testing a couple.
    2. Research automated XML sitemap w/ Modx.
    3. Research how modx deals with meta data – keywords and descriptions.
    4. Implement Cufon font replacement for introductory fact & contact info.
    5. Incorporate testimonials along right hand column and I want the testimonials to be random.
    6. Create sprite out of section header icons to minimize http requests.
    7. Enable zlib compression to speed access.
    8. Research easy newsletter plug-in for future email newsletters.
    9. Research ManagerManager plugin for customizing admin areas.
    10. Research MaxiGallery to have image galleries for individual homes. Currently I link to the property website I create, which has all the images.

    Resources I used:
    1. The Coding Pad Tutorials
    2. The new Modx book
    3. Modx Forums
    4. The almost Complete Guide to Constructing Menus in MODx Using Wayfinder
    5. A LOT of just trial and error

    If someone is willing to give me security advice, I am happy to create a view-only login that people could use to see the backend.

    1. Jason

      Thank you for your submission. Wow, the site looks great, and you did a great job with your writeup. I’m looking forward to reading it in more detail, just wanted to say thanks for entering. 🙂


  19. OK here goes:


    Templates: I used the “Swansong” template that was mentioned in the tutorials so I could easily follow along. I also loaded “verde” and “skyline” which I like but haven’t added any content.

    Snippets: I used the Wayfinder and Ditto snippets, again following along the tutorials. I didn’t really have time to study up on other snippets.

    Resources: Last year when I tried to teach myself how to use MODx there didn’t seem to be many tutorials around for beginners and even though people say the forums are great, they seem to drift off on tangents that have nothing to do with answering questions. I have found the Coding Pad to be a great resource and have relied on this site for my information so far.

    Something interesting: I discovered that when I think I didn’t do something correctly I would try clearing the cache before giving up.

    A cool MODx tip: keep reading this (Coding Pad) website!

    Thanks for this opportunity,

    1. Ian

      Thank you for your submission and your write up. I like the verde template a lot too! There’s an amazing number of cool free templates out there to play with.

      Thanks once again for getting your submission in, and Good luck! 🙂


  20. This is my first “commercial” website. I developed it “inhouse” for the company I work for, using.

    CMS: Modx 9.6.3 (of course)
    Template: bluebusiness (modified head graphic)
    Snippets: Ditto, Jot, Newspublisher, Reflect, bolform – a homegrown snippett, Wayfinder, Weblogin etc….

    If you visit the site it should become painfully clear that I am no web guru, although, with modx and a decent template my boss can’t tell. Which really says more about Modx than my meager capabilities 🙂

    I also have to say that this site is a work in progress. Since content is being added as we speak. Which brings up one of the many great things about modx ,which is, the ease with which the site administrator can connect users and groups to documents to completely control how the site is presented to the outside world. This is how I sold modx to my boss .eg guests can’t see customer stuff and customers can’t see employee stuff. He thinks this is the greatest thing since sliced bread – that and the price.

    Anyway have a look…

    for customer level access:

    login: codepad
    pass: codepad

    … and let me know what you think.


  21. Hi, I just found out about the contest a few days ago and am working on my submission now. I should have my “mock” website ready by tomorrow. I really enjoy your website, it’s been a really good resource for me. Thank you
    ~ Jules

  22. My entry is a site I designed and built using MODx –

    I built this site for my wife so it was a bit of a labor of love. Crafting is the order of the day here and the site acts as a showcase for all her brilliant stitched and stuffed creations and also includes a blog where she writes about her progress.

    I used a wide range of snippets for this site including Ditto, Reflect, Jot and AjaxSearch.

    MODx is an incredible CMS but the learning curve can be a bit daunting if you’re not sure where to look where you encounter a problem. One resource that never lets me down is the MODx community and in particular the forum. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had a sudden eureka moment after doing a search on forum and the willingness of people to reply to a post if you have a problem or need something clarified is amazing.

    What did I learn from building this site? Well I basically learned how to built a blog. I’ve built a few sites using MODx before but these were fairly standard corporate sites so integrating things like comments and tags was definitely something new for me.

    Tip – if building a lot of MODx websites I like to get all the basic stuff like contact pages, search results, RSS, site maps and snippets set up as quickly as possible. One way of doing this is by having an SQL database on your local machine that contains all this information and then import it via phpMyadmin into your new empty database. It’s a real time saver.

  23. 1.) So here it is, my first site in MODx:

    2.) Template: used a template I helped a young lady create for her “mentor required” High School Senior project.

    3.) Snippets used: Wayfinder, WebLogin

    4.) Useful resources: The Coding Pad tutorials! and most definitely “The (almost Complete Guide to Creating Menus in MODx Uisng Wayfinder,” I also used the book “MODx Web Development”

    5.) Something I learned about MODx during site development: Well considering that I’m just starting out, everything I did was something I learned. I have no doubt that the coolest things are yet to come. For now I’m just trying to wrap my mind around how the basics work. Everything I can think of are questions not solutions:-) Following along in the book “MODx Web Development” I set up the WebLogin snippet and guest user so that a “guest” could login and create a blog post. Though the post is created it’s not published and ends up with the “only-for-friends” access permissions. If you care to login even though it doesn’t work quite right the login info is – un:guest pw:123456

    6.) Cool tip: Not sure what to say here, too much of a noobie to have discovered something others would find cool. For me the cool thing about MODx is that I don’t have to find the right plugin to make things work. I can write the code or use a library I’m used to, like jquery, and integrate that directly into MODx. I can’t wait to get the basics down so I can move on to the really creative stuff.

    Thanks for the tutorials and the contest, they’ve been a good learning experience for me.


  24. Ok here is my masterpiece, A little cavet, it’s pretty rough looking. I kinda of ran out of time and there are things I would like to tweak.


    template: Core 3 Network from Themeforest, the reason why I used it was it looked pretty nice and I wanted to see if I can modify a regular HTML template to work with MODx.

    Snippets used: Ditto for the portfolio part, wayfinder for the menu’s and I used FeedX to pull in my twitter feed.

    When building the site, I used mostly Mary’s tutorials and the FeedX thread in the MODx forums.

    One of the interesting things I learned about while building the site was how easy it was to being able to take a normal HTML template and be able to use it within MODx without too much fuss. I also really liked how things are broken down to chucks and snippets…very cool.

    One tip I have is try and abstract you content into chunks. It just makes easier to shuffle it around when working with templates

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