Help Improve the Extras

The MODX Extras have long been a great resource to find awesome tools to help you build MODX sites, but the Extras listings can be improved.

Better Categories

For starters, the categories could be revised to reflect current web development tasks. The trick is to be granular enough, without introducing dozens of categories that make it hard to properly tag Extras, such as:

Category Description
Manager & Core Back-end, core extensions & media sources
Martech & SEO Marketing technology, analytics & conversion
Articles & Blogs Tools to help create collections of content
E-commerce Catalogs, payments & online sales
Email Email marketing and email utilities
Forms Form processing, forum utilities & anti-spam tools
Images & Media Galleries, rich media & image manipulation
Integrations Integrations with 3rd-party services
Themes Quickstart packages, site designs & Fred themes
Navigation Site constructions tools for content publishing
i18n & l10n Internationalization, localization & multi-language
Editors RTEs and alternate content editing interfaces
Utilities & Widgets Functional enhancements for your sites
Security Keeping your sites and data safe
Development MODX development tools
Search Native and third-party site content search
Speed & Scaling CDN, caching & performance solutions
Workflow & QA Messaging, approval & quality assurance tools
Users & Auth Authentication, SSO & tools to manage users

Some of the existing categories would be merged, and others that really don’t mean anything, like “Content” would be dropped altogether. Extras can have multiple categories, but I personally think they should be limited to three.

Ratings

The old thumbs up/down was manipulated to the point where it lost any value and we chose to remove it. It would be nice to rate Extras in some way that cannot be gamed. The App and Play stores both do an okay job of this. Reviews can be helpful but moderation may be required—especially for new reviews/reviewers.

Reporting

If an Extra is not functioning as advertised, or doing something nefarious, a quick way to report an Extra could be useful.

Support

Each Extra release could be tied to a topic in these forums, but is this useful?

Icons, Taglines & Open Graph

While this has been implemented, it has not been formally announced, until now: Extras now support icons and brief taglines for better overview listings. @smashingred also spent a lot of time working to create some really cool Open Graph previews for when you link to an Extra (or any new page on the MODX website), like:

What Would You Suggest?

If you’ve got ideas about how we can improve the Extras listings on modx.com, we welcome your detailed suggestions below. We won’t be able to do everything, however, we know many of you have thought about improving the Extras as much as we have.

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This list looks pretty good. I do think it could be really useful to break the categories up, just for hierarchy, into basic functions. That way a list that is 15 or more isn’t too unwieldy.

Could I propose rough areas such as, perhaps, ‘common site functions’, that could handle multi-lingual, users, integrations, Articles/Blogs…the most common ^site functionality that people need. Images and Media too. This would probably be the biggest

Martec and ecommerce and emails in ‘Business and Marketing’ maybe

The navigation, themes and forms in Layout and Styles, perhaps…

Then perhaps two more,

Site Tools with editors, utilities, search

Dev Tools and Technologies with development, speed and scaling, security and workflow

Just thinking out loud, any structure like this could work well with just a couple categories

Authentification or Users are missing. Could be maybe combined with Security.

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Good thinking, Users as a group is definitely needed

Maybe a Getting started category would be helpful with the basic extras covering all basic functionalities for new MODX users. I’m thinking of Extras like FormIt, pdoTools, getResources, Wayfinder, Ace, maybe MIGX, etc. This category then should be moderated by the MODX staff though and if there’s a category limit to each extra this shouldn’t count towards it of course.

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Speaking of moderation … I believe the Extras section is due to soon include commercial / pro extras. I think that can be a good thing - but is there a plan in place to ensure that the market doesn’t become saturated with multiple garbage copycat extras.

If you’ve ever used WordPress and needed to add some basic functionality [eg, to clear the cache], you’ll know that searching their plugin market will give you endless results, each with a more garish thumbnail than the last.

It’s horrible to work with and is ultimately counterproductive.

Hoping you’re already way ahead of me :slight_smile:

I love the new Extras section and hope it can remain fresh, clean and useful!

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+1 for condensing the categories. As a new user I never looked at the categories as it was a little overwhelming and with categories such as ‘menu’ and ‘navigation’ it got confusing.

Categories aside though I would personally love to see an advanced search functionality maybe across the top with multi live filters for refining and sorting. ie: so a user could search ‘navigation’ and then refine the results by latest updated and most used.

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@vibedesign - I think those tools mostly will be in a category. My idea was to separate form related stuff (because its common to many types of sites) from stuff like MIGX or pdotools…also those extras are going to be in sections. Getting Started would be a great category name, but my suggestion is that it be stuff like users, languages, images/Media, blogs…meaning the top types of functionality.

Stuff like pdoTools is great and important, but…it can do so many things, and it in many ways underlies the functions I listed above…so I consider them to be somewhat different. Forms, also, are used by just a random cross-section of different functional sites, and I figure put that with templates and styles because often that’s the real issue, position color and so on.

I must admit it is sort of random, any combination can be criticized. Still, Getting Started is a great category name.

RATINGS

We could also let devs or interested users to make posts in the forums, not hawking an extra but talking about their experience, go through installation or whatever, use case maybe, this would show activity and will drive more downloads. People can easily like comment or ask questions, and this page would let searchers know its worth trying. Lord knows its hard to understand exactly how these things can help me, when the documentation is weak.

This ties in with tying in the forum topic to the extra. The dev doesn’t have to do too much, but there should be a thread for feedback anyway. The community can help out with documentation as well. then, all the right info is there.

@smashingred the extra page looks fabulous! but I do think on the main or category page I would like more lines of info for each Extra, the content isn’t always on point and that’s just not always fixable. More info to me seems wise.

In the pic I am uploading we can see the extra on the right is on point, but on the left it provides really no info, so possibly extra text can help…

Hi @nuan88,

We did base the Extras main list view off of the Apple App and Google Play Stores and wished to find a balance between enough information and not look like a wall of text.

Of course we could add more lines but ultimately, the biggest problem is Extra owners being able to write short descriptions that answer the all important questions of “What problem does it solve? And why should I care?”

Ultimately, I’d like Extra developers to answer those questions in a few words and include that in the Tagline field. Then they can explain it in more detail in their short and longer descriptions.

Perhaps, we could add a quick-preview overlay with the longer description in this view. What do you think of that?

We really need to do a better job of helping Extra Developers to express what problem an Extra Solves and write useful descriptions. Many over the years have focused on what the script/Extra does (functionally) but not what reason or use cases people might employ it.

Yes perfect, the overlay would be awesome and not get in the way. I sort of expected your reply, the devs do have to handle that.

What if we tried to make kind of a user team for new extras. We have enough tinkerers that it might not be perfect but could work…maybe. We also still have the RU/EN issue with many of these as far as documentation…

Yes try to define what they need to add, it can help them a lot. And we need need usecases, devs need to understand that

A user team or moderation team would be excellent. However, we have no infrastructure to handle this, currently. Moderation is done through a CMP in the website and this isn’t a great solution.

What kind of process and feedback system do you think might work?

We’d probably need to scope out something like the following back of the napkin plan:

  • An Extras Mod Group
  • Notify Mods of New Extras
  • A list of new Extras today/recent for logged in Mods to see
  • Mods can review the listing or test the extra
  • Mods can post comments or give an unaltered approval signal
  • Notes summarized and sent to Author if needed?
  • No notes allows for it to be published.

I’m not sure if there would be a way for moderators to submit suggestions to Extra developer/publishers.

I’m brainstorming above but just trying to think how it would work.

Another concern I have is making sure the mods are trustworthy. Sadly, we’ve had experience with manipulation to raise the profile of some Extras and lower it for others. I’d hate to see any form of manipulation that could harm the Extras system.

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I…don’t know whether the mods are the solution. I don’t want a gatekeeper doing stuff under the radar…

what’s the process now? the forum posting is automated or…and is there any official approval process, I suppose not…

i was definitely thinking more like an open system. let the devs post when they are ready. people can look into them, try them out, help perhaps a bit with the basic information…this might draw out the devs a bit too.

otherwise the same as far as comments or feedback…in this system probably the bigger danger is to protect the devs from negative, unhelpful comments…

Do we need mods for extras, really? I don’t so much mean whatever powers they would have on this site, just that they couldn’t, you know, ditch or hide an extra from the community. I don’t want anyone to be able to stifle a real extra that really works.

My thinking was more, hey I can install this and give it a whirl, hey i hit an error so there’s feedback. if I like it then I can do a bit more to help others like the one I like, even if its just give my own case as a use case. The users could try to help in defined ways, clarifying things or compiling information somehow, just users using and then giving some useful feedback.

Edit: If a dev is for real and has something useful, we should help that person, not let them learn that the big boys get all the love and the little guys are ignored.

So sort of like, help all the extras possible to get all the basics defined, if a dev is active then help them more, and then the people that really use it can hopefully keep it rolling after that

User & Auth added. Great suggestions and keep them coming!

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As far as I have experienced the MODX Community in general, we are passionate coders, webdevelopers and -designers and we all want this platform MODX (which we all learned to love) to grow. So everybody who is participating in some way to this whole system has good intentions I would suppose.

Of course I’m aware that good meant is not well done, but if we have enough people to watch each others back, that should get sorted out by itself.

Now regarding the extras we need a way to let people contribute to this system, but at the same time prohibit the plugin overload madness which is taking place at other CM-Systems. Therefore we need a way to let people revise existing extras and give their feedback or even better let them suggest actual code (like a fork, etc.) to improve them.

Further no new extras should be added which don’t have a fundamental new way of offering a solution that other extras already do. Like mentioned above it should be preferred to update extras which have missing features.

It might be helpful if all extras would belong to the MODX Community itself rather then to the respective author. Therefore everybody can contribute if we say all the code gets placed on Github for example. Of course the authors shouldn’t be treated just like donors to the system, therefore each author would become a moderator of his/her extra.

Maybe something like a complete new Forum like this one just for the extras could provide the needed infrastructure. Every extra should get it’s own category where feedback gets collected and improvements are suggested. That might be a little much work though, I’m sure we are still busy with this new forum.

So much to ramble about still, but I think that’s enough for now :wink:

@vibedesign great suggestions! I don’t think a new forum would be needed, why not just an ‘Extra Feedback & Support’ section of this forum? With all the extra threads in there?

I think we need to think about it from the dev perspective, they are the tool providers.

I don’t know if I agree about a block on new extras…I have not experienced the problems you have talked about though, let’s talk more about those problems, to avoid them. But it definitely would be good to identify key functions that are not yet covered well.

I mean, if a dev makes something, we can try to show some support. It might be a simple tool for them, but they can keep going and might provide something really cool later. Also they might build simply a better tool for a particular purpose. So to shut out the new guy would create a lack of competition.

Shutting out new devs seems to me to be unwise. They are in many ways the lifeblood of the community, along with the user base, but the user base grows only when the extra community is flourishing.

Keeping out copy cats is important, though. But Modx is not wordpress…a fake MIGX for example here would get absolutely nowhere, I hope no one would be so foolish as to try that.

We do want to support those who have worked hard to build great tools, but we cant let them control the ecosystem, they have to compete and stay fresh.

great ideas, overall, rambling or no :laughing:

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In general I’m more a friend of a community, rather than a competition, because in a competition there’s always a loser. That’s why I think the focus should be on improving existing extras and not building new ones. This comes with the thought that all extras should belong to MODX and not the author. Therefore no egos are involved when one extra is improved and another one is maybe even removed. I think we shouldn’t want and we certainly don’t need almost identical extras. Quality over quantity.

If we all are open that we build this system together and we all contribute what we can and most important let others contribute on things we started, I’m sure this will bring MODX way further than everyone ever expected.

As an author, that’s most definitely not what I want. While I appreciate the thought of collaborating on making existing extras better, what you’re proposing would demotivate the people who invest their time, effort, and/or money into building a new extra.

We do need competition among extras. Having a different idea or vision for a certain problem, even if it’s only subtly different from an existing extra, still has merit. Or would you rather not have seen Collections appear after Articles and GridClassKey? Or mSearch after SimpleSearch and AdvSearch? Or xRouting after ContextRouter?

Almost all extras are already available on GitHub and accept issues and pull requests, and are thus open to collaboration. And that does in fact happen. Several extras for which the maintainer left have actually been picked up by others to keep them alive through that.

Bottom line, what you’re proposing @vibedesign is trying to combat a problem that we don’t have in the community, and trying to optimise for a scenario in which it does appear is in my firm belief only going to harm the people doing the work. For the time being, any instance where “copy cats” appear can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis through the existing review process for new authors.

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