For the past several years ExpressionEngine has been my CMS of choice. One of the big reasons why I initially found it so attractive was the control over the design templates and I think they still have that advantage over many of the popular content management systems out there.
While I was learning ExpressionEngine, my biggest issue with Ellis Labs was the lack of detail with their documentation. To be fair, it was around the time when EE2 was still in beta but even with my most recent implementation I can recall times where I felt that the docs fell short. Coming from a background in design and front-end development, I’m probably not their primary audience but thorough documentation would have saved me a lot of time and headaches.
As I became more familiar with EE, I ran into a few limitations when it came to the flexibility of displaying content while maintaining its structure. In the end, I’ve had to make compromises or come up with some really inelegant solutions that often times took a hit in the performance department.
Still, ExpressionEngine’s pluses heavily outweigh its minuses and so I still had planned to use it for my site redesign. That all changed when I was researching content management systems for a client and I heard about Statamic from co-creator @jackmcdade. I wasn’t familiar with file-based content management systems but I found it intriguing and the more I read up on it, the better it sounded. The idea of not having to backup, port or maintain databases alone was enough for me to pick up a copy of my own to play around with. As I familiarized myself with Statamic, I saw how flexible it was; flexibility that I couldn’t achieve with ExpressionEngine. It became very clear to me is how well thought out the CMS was. It just felt lightweight and efficient. The idea of layered templating is interesting and something I hope to explore soon. And upgrading to the latest version is a matter of overwriting a couple system folders on your server! How can you beat that?
So, all that said, I am not dropping ExpressionEngine and I will continue to use it for future projects, but I will be using Statamic for my personal site. I’m looking forward to spending more time with it and to see how the project progresses.