While open-source CMS options like WordPress get a lot of attention from bloggers and designers, ExpressionEngine is a powerful, robust choice that many designers and clients would find more suitable to their needs. And as with the other CMS options, there are plenty of online resources for designers and developers who are working with ExpressionEngine. In this article you’ll find a helpful collection of resources to aid you in your work with EE.
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The EE community provides lots of tutorials for learning how to do just about anything in EE. Whether you’re brand new and don’t know where to start, or experienced and looking for some advanced techniques, there are existing resources to show you new things. Here is a look at a sampling of the tutorials that are available.
1.1 Beginner Tutorials
Install EE in six steps.
An Introduction to ExpressionEngine
A solid starting point that gives you all the basics of building a website with EE.
First Steps in ExpressionEngine
A good beginner’s guide, with explanations on the basics of EE.
Categories and Paths in ExpressionEngine
A look at the URL structure created by EE by default.
Quick Start Tutorial
A beginner’s tutorial from EE that is intended to help new users get up and running quickly.
1.2 Building Websites
Building a Small Business Website
A 17-part tutorial series that takes you through the entire process of building a website with EE from start to finish (also available in book format).
Building a Church Site
A 27-part tutorial series on building a church website with a blog, an events calendar, photos and more.
Creating Custom Listings with ExpressionEngine
Darren Hoyt looks at some problems with creating manageable websites for clients and shows how EE can help, as compared to WordPress (see parts 1 and 2).
1.3 Working with Audio
Powering an Audio Archive with ExpressionEngine
A tutorial on using custom fields to power an audio archive.
This tutorial shows the process of publishing a podcast with EE with the help of a plug-in.
1.4 Image Galleries and Slideshows
Monoslideshow and EE Gallery
This tutorial will help you set up a Flash slideshow on your EE website.
Member Photo Gallery in ExpressionEngine
Display a gallery of photos uploaded by members of your website.
1.5 Working with Blogs
The ExpressionEngine Phase of My New Blog
Veerle takes us through three features of her blog: the header, the related links and the archives.
Add FeedBurner to ExpressionEngine
A fairly simple tutorial for EE users who want to use FeedBurner to publish their feed.
AJAX Archives in ExpressionEngine
Dynamic CSS Navigation Highlighting with ExpressionEngine
A quick tutorial on making the category menu auto-highlight.
ExpressionEngine and Suckerfish Menu
A tutorial on adding a vertical drop-down menu.
Auto Navigation Highlighting in ExpressionEngine
Another look at the subject of highlighting the current navigation item.
1.7 Other Tutorials
These tutorials don’t fit into one of the main categories.
No-Module-Required Static Content in ExpressionEngine
Looking to build a website with static content? Some popular modules are options but are not necessary.
PayPal Options and ExpressionEngine’s Simple Commerce Module
A tutorial on building a more flexible shopping cart than is possible with just the Simple Commerce Module.
Easy Contact Form Validation in ExpressionEngine
A tutorial on improving the standard validation of forms in EE.
Secure Downloads in ExpressionEngine
Learn how to create a secure area of your website where you can share files with users.
Build an iPhone Template for ExpressionEngine
Create a template specifically for iPhone users.
A Simple ExpressionEngine Search Page
A tutorial on setting up a search function on your EE website.
A blog with a lot of short posts that answer questions from EE users and developers.
1.8 General Tutorials/Articles
These articles should help you improve the results of your work with EE. If you’re new to EE, they’ll serve as a good foundation for your work, and if you’re experienced, they serve as a helpful refresher.
Working Smarter with ExpressionEngine
Another helpful article from Simon Collison on improving your experience with EE.
2. Advanced Training
For those who are serious about learning how to build websites with EE, these two resources will provide added learning, if you’re willing to pay for the content. You may be able to find some of this information elsewhere for free, but these courses could save you some time.
Train-ee offers screencasts and books for purchase and some free tutorials (several were featured earlier in this article).
Building a Dynamic Website with ExpressionEngine
A 12-part video tutorial series (each part costs $5) that includes sections on adding a membership website, preparing a website for clients and more.
Much like WordPress, Drupal and other CMS platforms, EE’s out-of-the-box functionality can be adapted and expanded by developers. There is a wide variety of available modules, plug-ins and extensions for EE users.
10 ExpressionEngine Production Add-Ons
A list of 10 add-ons to improve productivity with EE.
Tome (Static Pages)
This module gives you the ability to create WordPress-style static pages.
Another option for using static pages with EE.
Repeet is a plug-in that allows users to simulate repeating events in a template.
A module for integrating your Flickr photo stream in your website.
File Manager Module
Improves file handling and the uploading process and functionality.
Allows you to automatically log website visitors in from any template without having to collect details from them.
Perform loops in any template without enabling or using PHP.
Post tweets from your EE control panel.
The popular WordPress anti-spam plug-in can be used for EE as well.
Simple Pagination Plug-in
Improve the core functionality of pagination by separating content into multiple pages without requiring the use of multiple fields.
Add a TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor to EE.
LG Social Bookmarks
There are a lot of WordPress plug-ins that enable you to add social media icons to posts. This is a similar extension for EE.
Multi Dropdown List
An extension for creating drop-down lists.
An add-on for redirecting users from old URLs to new ones.
Fight comment spam with a CAPTCHA for comments.
Gives you control over the page that members are directed to following their log-in.
TextMate ExpressionEngine Bundle
If you use TextMate and EE together, this can help you distinguish the EE markup. Not really a plug-in or module but a helpful download that can improve your development with EE and that doesn’t have a place anywhere else on this list.
4. Official Resources
The ExpressionEngine website contains many resources for designers and developers. These resources may be a good starting point for you, or you could bookmark them to return in future when you’re looking for a solution to a problem.
Stay up to date on EE through the official blog.
The Knowledge Base has a wealth of information that is well categorized for ease of use.
ExpressionEngine User Guide
All of the official documentation for EE.
Learn from others or contribute your own knowledge to the official wiki.
Get help on your problems from other EE developers, or give back by answering questions of others.
Dissecting the Default Templates
If you’re new to EE, you’ll need to learn how the template system works.
5. Galleries and Showcases
EE can be used to power just about any type of website or blog, large or small, and any design can be used on the EE platform. Still, it’s nice to see what others are doing with websites powered by EE.
Showcase from ExpressionEngine
The official website of EE includes a categorized showcase of plenty of great EE websites. The gallery even includes interviews with some of the designers and developers.
The EE category here has plenty of EE inspiration.
The EE category here currently has 25 websites on display.
6. Compared to Other CMS Options
Wondering how EE stacks up against other CMS platforms? Here are some links to opinions of other users and articles that analyze the platforms’ strengths and weaknesses.
ExpressionEngine vs. TextPattern
An article from HicksDesign weighing the pros and cons.
Switching Mindsets: From WordPress to ExpressionEngine
A comparison from an experienced WordPress developer.
WordPress vs. Drupal vs. ExpressionEngine: Which Blog Software Should I Use?
This post examines some of the pros and cons of each, more from a blogger’s perspective.
Better than MovableType? ExpressionEngine Launches the Challenge
A detailed look at EE from a new user.
If you’re used to working with WordPress, the EE theme system is a bit different. You won’t find as many themes available, but really any HTML/CSS design can be used with EE. Many users find a free CSS-based template or buy a premium one, and then have it converted to include the EE tags. Although there aren’t as many resources for themes, there are some, including control panel themes. Here are a few popular resources:
ExpressionEngine Theme Gallery
The official EE website has a gallery that currently includes more than 25 themes to download.
Fresh Theme for EE
A popular theme based on the old theme of Bartelme Design.
Control Panel Themes
The EE website also includes six different themes you can use to adjust the look of your control panel.
Green n Blue
A control panel theme from Mark Boulton.
ExpressionEngine Control Panel Theme
Another control panel theme, this one from Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain.