30 Oct 2018

ExpressionEngine Goes Open Source

In: Tech/Geek Zone

It’s no great secret that at Energy Cell we love ExpressionEngine. When new clients ask us to advise them about their CMS choices, ExpressionEngine always comes at the top of our list.

ExpressionEngine delivers everything that the majority of our clients are looking for.

With dependable security and flexibility that makes it easier for designers to craft a site exactly as they want it, without hinderance from an over rigid CMS structure that stifles creativity.


Context – Powered by Expression Engine

ExpressionEngine has never been as popular as it should be

It’s easy to praise the technical and functional aspects of ExpressionEngine, however, there’s always been one niggle that prevented ExpressionEngine from realising to its true potential.

Unlike other popular CMS solutions, Expression Engine wasn’t open source or free. To date, ExpressionEngine has always been a closed source development sold on a one licence per domain basis with additional costs for version upgrades.

Licence cost distorted real cost of ownership

Ironically the licence fee got in the way of the simple fact that it’s seldom any more expensive to complete a site in EE than in a free to download CMS.

For a single domain the additional expense of building a website with a paid for EE licence compared to building with a free CMS such as WordPress or Drupal was insignificant.

In fact, when you add the costs of premium plugins and other licences you would probably need in addition to the base CMS, it’s unlikely there will be any tangible cost differences.

In many instances, additional functionality that EE delivers out of the box requires premium plugins for a WordPress development, so it’s actually sometimes less costly to build with ExpressionEngine.

The open source community

When the decision was made to keep ExpressionEngine closed, the huge opportunity of being part of the open source community was lost.

Unlike WordPress and other open source CMSs, ExpressionEngine was less successful at attracting a development community that could grow into viable ecosystem of developers and designers producing plugins and delivering services to further enhanced the functionality of the CMS.

Open Source done well enables an incredible level of freedom for developers and designers, creating a stronger sense of ownership and control.

The broader use of open source products creates a healthier business environment more able to support a developer ecosystem. Tools and plugins can be developed with far greater confidence that a well produced product will be well received with the potential to deliver a healthy return on investment.


Visit Lincoln

Visit Lincoln – Powered by ExpressionEngine

The WordPress ecosystem

The WordPress theme and plugin market is probably the best example, with literally hundreds of business types from one person startups to major hosting and technology companies enjoying great success off of the back of WordPress’s GPL open source licensing policy.

The ExpressionEngine ecosystem

ExpressionEngine has had some fantastic plugins developed for it, however, unlike WordPress it’s been harder for developers to realise the return on investment that they need to make continuing commitment to product development and support viable.

Simply put, a developer who makes a premium plugin for WordPress can expect to enjoy far better returns than a developer who puts in the same amount of work and effort to produce a similar plugin for ExpressionEngine.

Business drives development, when there’s not enough business, there won’t be enough development and it becomes harder to encourage the most talented developers to invest their time.


Bridge McFarland

Bridge McFarland – Powered by ExpressionEngine

ExpressionEngine is finally open source

ExpressionEngine is now free and will become a fully fledged open source product in November.

EllisLab the company behind ExpressionEngine announced the change on their blog with the news that ExpressionEngine is Now Free. EllisLab quite rightly state that the potential is now there to drive incredible growth and opportunity for everyone.

As an agency who depends heavily on ExpressionEngine this is fantastic news and comes as great relief to us.

Our concern for some time was that EE would lose more of its community of developers that are the life blood of a great CMS. In going open source EllisLab have done the best thing they possibly could to open the doors to the developer community and create the opportunity for a fantastic future.

EllisLab have stated that their goal is to help people that use ExpressionEngine to become wildly successful. ExpressionEngine is a solid CMS with a great deal of functionality and flexibility that exceeds the ability of other CMSs, the potential to grow is there.

The shift to open source could well deliver the fuel that re-ignites EE’s fortunes, we wish the team at EllisLab every future success.


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