ExpressionEngine: Ellislab's side project.
Updated November 18, 2014

ExpressionEngine: Ellislab's side project.

Sterling Hamilton | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 3 out of 10
Vetted Review

Software Version


Overall Satisfaction with ExpressionEngine

Our Agency has used EE in the past as the primary CMS for the majority of our projects. Unfortunately the implementation historically was done in a way that suits Developers. This is poor because the platform had Designers in mind when it was built.

This fact is important to remember because it's fundamental to how you implement and use it long term.

A few things to note:

  • Copy and Paste development is actually expected.
  • Versioning can be difficult.
  • Upgrading IS difficult.
We've stopped using it as of late in favor of things that scale better with normal sized teams of Developers (>= 5) who can work on the same project at once.

We migrated to Drupal and WordPress.

The community of EE has dwindled in recent months and with the announcement that the core framework is up for sale, it looks like the product is on its last legs.

It is still good for:

  • Design Shops.
  • People not maintaining it themselves.
  • Small companies.
It costs more to implement, to maintain and the evolution of the product and its extensions are slower than that of WordPress and Drupal because the community just isn't there.

* All of this is based on my experience with the product, my interactions with other developers with extensive experience, people that I respect and encounters in the field.
  • Once you understand the "ExpressionEngine way" of things -- it does what it set out to do, very well.
  • It's not widely used, so one COULD consider that to be a security strength. (Note: we have seen it hacked before.)
  • It's a common brand with design shops, so it's an easy recommendations as a solution to them.
  • The community, is just no longer there. With most projects, this is one of the most important areas.
  • Maintenance, upgrades, versioning, etc is a nightmare.
  • It is NOT for developers. Thinking that will set you up for failure.
  • After an initial investment of 2-3 years, I joined the team with another Senior Developer. We quickly realized, despite our best effort, that this was not a good fit for Agency life.
  • People are still asking us to implement it, but it's not difficult to recommend them towards something else with the current state of things.
  • It seems to foster a lack of programming fundamentals.
I would recommend it over let's say:

  • Simple
  • Concrete
  • Joomla
Basically, small, no name basic CMSs can be replaced by it.
Product seems to be heading towards the gallows.
I'd only recommend it for the following:
  • Short lived projects.
  • Design shops.
  • Small companies.

Using ExpressionEngine

At this point it's antiquated and no longer serves any major business function.
We migrate away from it and we help those who are stuck on it.
In the end we're there for providing solutions. If it's requested, we'll do it and we'll do it well. But our professional experience has us recommending against it so we have drastically reduced our use of the entire product.
Upgrades, feature requests, bug fixes, performance concerns, etc. Most these can be handled by Junior Developers, rarely we do need to bring in Senior Developers to facilitate core problems with the framework. Complex data can tend to be slow and then we need to introduce caching and the like. Sometimes it's because it was built poorly and we took it over, sometimes it's just the nature of the beast.
  • By request of the client.
  • Benefit for who we hand it off to, for instance if we know we're giving the end product to someone who will be living with it and they have a history in EE, we'll of course do what's best and give them something they'd enjoy using and be quick using.
  • Simple sites intended to be maintained by designers or people without much development experience.
  • Contextualized content based on geographic locations.
  • Auto updating annual campaigns that change how the entire site looks and works.
  • Integrations with various external services to push the boundaries of what the system was intended for.
  • As previously stated, we're probably not going to be doing that.