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Last-Minute Guide To Developing An ExpressionEngine Website

Post by|ExpressionEngine6 April,2020
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ExpressionEngine is a free and open-source content management system that is written in an object-oriented PHP language and uses MySQL for data storage. ExpressionEngine is easy to modify, develop, and extend. These features allow a ExpressionEngine developer to manage and modify the contents of the site and convert a static website into a dynamic one with ease and efficiency. Websites built with EE use several custom channels, and each channel contains various fields. Channels represent different types of information, so for single pages, you might have a channel, because a single page might be blog posts, products, job vacancies, and so on.

For the EE installation process follow this documentation
https://docs.expressionengine.com/latest/installation/installation.html

ExpressionEngine Based On Channels

ExpressionEngine is based on a channel. It is a collection of different field types or field groups that holds all the data on your web page. The main function of the channel is to retrieve and display a website’s content. We create all the entries in the form of channels, and we put the data into these fields when we create channel entries. A single channel holds the capacity to contain the data of your entire website.

Plan The Page Design

First, think about the content of each page and its management. Choose appropriate field types that can hold your page data in an efficient and manageable way. For example, if you want to show simple texts, you can choose Text Input type. Another example is that if you have repeated block of content with different data, then you can use the Grid type field. There are many field types available by default in ExpressionEngine, but you can create custom Field type for a specific data type. Modules and Plugin will help you to make custom fields type. Zeal Color Picker is a module that provides a custom field type for picking colors. To make the Fields in a manageable way, create them in Field groups. A Field’s collection is stored in a Field Group, and every Field Group can be assigned to a channel. Suppose you create a channel for the Home page as Home, then Home Field Group contains all the fields used in the Home channel.

Remember All Field Types And Its Working

The ExpressionEngine channels are where your information gets stored. In a channel, you will find a field. It is a container that holds a specific type of information. Before creating channels, review all the field types and their working. It will help you to choose field type intelligently. The latest version of ExpressionEngine introduced some new field types, like Relationship, Grid, File Grid, Fluid, etc. It only depends on how you use the field types for your page contents.

Field Reusability

We know that a channel holds different field-types, and every field can be used with different channels. ExpressionEngine offers you to choose the created fields in the creation of a new channel; this feature is called field reusability. So, if you are creating a website that is very heavy on content, then this feature can help you reduce your workload. You must be careful while editing the channel because the removal of any field will result in data loss..

Template & Template Grouping

 A Template is just a container that enables the output of information on a webpage. They can be assumed as a single page of your site or an entire web page; they can be a subsection of your site(like a header or footer) or a page that can output a variety of information types (RSS, CSS, HTML, XML, etc), and you can create Templates for any type of data that you need to show on the page(RSS, CSS, HTML, XML, etc). EE uses Embed Tag to insert one Template into another because they are a smaller component of your page, and this combination of templates is known as Template Groups. The best way to keep all templates and their component together is by combining then into Template Groups. We must create a different Template Group for each page because each Template Group represents a folder on your server. In ExpressionEngine, a URL always contains the Template Group and a specific template name, as shown below.

http://example.com/template_group/template 

Minimum Entry Queries

ExpressionEngine has a template language that allows you to retrieve and display information dynamically. To display the data on the template, we write an Expression Tag that fetches the data for that channel. Here is an example;

{exp:channel:entries channel=”news|blog” limit=”5″}

  <h1>{title}</h1>

{/exp:channel:entries}

Here, we need to remember to call minimum channel entry tags for a page because calling multiple channels will increase the page loading time. A single channel-entry Expression tag can call multiple channels at a time. 

Use of Global Variables

ExpressionEngine’s latest version introduced a global variable feature. These variables can be called anywhere in the template. Due to ExpressionEngine’s parsing order, the output of tag may be affected when they are used inside other tags. 

Global variables are useful for the static content of your page and are easily accessible by {Global_variable}. For example, contact details, logo URL, etc. The common static content of your page can be defined in a global variable, and you can put them in your template by calling the Global Variable name in a curly bracket.

Use Modules For Common Functionality

When you download ExpressionEngine for the very first time, you will also have to download the add-ons and additional features along with it because a fresh installation does not come with these features.  Contact Form, Low Search, WYGWAM, Forms, etc are a few commonly used features that you must have. 

Click on the link to find out about the top 10 ExpressionEngine Add-ons. https://www.zealousweb.com/the-top-10-expressionengine-add-ons/

Assets Management

Assets Management plays a very important role in website development. The best practice of asset management is to place all the assets, such as JS, CSS, Images, etc in separate folders between your local and remote sources. File Manager is suitable for asset management in ExpressionEngine because it can help you with a list of things, such as;

  • Create/Edit Upload Directory
  • Upload Files
  • Sync Directory
  • Crop, Rotate & Resize Images
  • Edit File Metadata
  • Watermarks

Backup Your Site

Backup is the most important process of any development. In any unforeseen situation, if the data gets lost, it is lost forever; having a backup will ensure that your data remains safe. You could opt for a manual backup or keep-up with the technology and go for an automatic one. 

Wrapping Up

ExpressionEngine is a new kid around the block but has proved its worth and made a name for itself amongst a few most prominent CMS. Through this blog, we have tried to list down a few tips that every ExpressionEngine developer must keep in mind while developing a website in ExpressionEngine.

Feel free to leave your comment in the comment section, and we’ll make sure that we respond. 

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