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ExpressionEngine Add-ons and How We Use Them

Expression Engine Add-ons

Wygwam, Matrix, Assets (Pixel and Tonic)

Everything P&T makes is a pleasure to work with, that’s why 75% of their product offerings are a no-brainer install for us here at Terrostar. On the development side, the simplicity of their front-end template tags paired with the ability to accomplish so much is why we keep coming back. For clients, the user interface and user experience for all of their products makes it a snap to work with.

FreeForm Pro (Solspace)

The folks at Solspace also make a fine suite of products, but FreeForm is the one constant in all of our work. Again, it’s all about ease of use and this one has it in spades – for both the development side and the client side. Creating forms and e-mail notifications are a breeze. With the new Pro version, having clients create their own forms and adding them to pages is a really nice addition.

Structure (Travis Schmeisser)

Before I arrived at Terrostar I had heard of Structure but I never had the opportunity to use it. I am so glad I get to use it now. Before, I would create a dozen channels, each for a top-level page on the site. Now, I make a small handful of channels (sometimes only one is needed!) and the user gets to select which one they want to use.  Also, the end user never had the ability to change page names or the order they appeared on the site without extra work involved. They never really understood the hierarchy of pages because they didn’t have a visual interface to reference. With Structure, you can see the hierarchy of pages, with their child pages directly underneath.

Switchee (Mark Croxton)

This is more for the developers out there. ExpressionEngine has a parsing order that doesn’t completely respect if/else conditionals. If you were to use if/else conditionals, everything within it would be parsed right away. The unmatched conditionals would then be taken out at the end of the parsing process; causing much more overhead than you bargained for. With Switchee, EE only parses what you want it to based on a certain value; a segment in the URL, for instance. This enables you get a more efficient template page.

Stash (Mark Croxton)

Stash has changed the way I build websites with EE. Before Stash, I made a template group for every top-level page on the site; that can take some time! Now, I make two or three templates based on the layout (one column, two column, etc), then call those templates into action depending on what the page needs, using an embed. On the page with the embed, I’ll store content dynamically with Stash, and then post that content into the embed. My templates are much more readable (as they only hold the most necessary code) and much less redundant (I only call the header/footer in two or three layout templates; not fifteen). The header, main navigation, footer, etc. will be in the embed and out of my way. For much more detail on this method, check out “Template Partials using Stash” by Adrienne Travis on EE Insider, or the EE Podcast where she dives into the same topic with some updates to her approach.