MODX: Getting Started

The George Mason University School of Law uses a web content management system called MODX. MODX allows for template-driven web sites with a great deal of flexibility, and easy editing from anywhere using a web browser. There is no need to install HTML editing software, FTP software, or anything else. Just log in and begin editing the web site.

Overview of the Interface

Navigation Tabs: The navigation tabs at the top of the interface allow access to the various parts of MODX. Depending on what level of permissions you have, you may see only one tab or up to 6 tabs. The “Site” tab allows access to pages for editing. The “Resources” tab allows access to files (PDF, Word, etc.), and, depending on your level of permissions, may allow access to templates, PHP code, and other features. The other tabs, if present, allow access to more advanced administrative functionality.

Document Tree: You’ll see a list of the pages that you have permission to edit in the left hand column. If there are container pages (“folders”), you will see a plus symbol next to the page name. Click on the plus to expand the list of pages within that container.MODX

Main Window: The main window to the right of the document tree is where you can edit pages and perform other actions.

Editing Pages

There are two ways to begin editing a page:

  1. Click on the page in the document tree, then click on “Edit” at the top of the Main Window, OR
  2. Right-click on the page in the document tree, then select “Edit document” from the menu

Once you are in editing mode, you will need to fill out some information in the top of the Main Window:

Title: This is the <title> HTML element which will show up in the title bar of the browser (above the “File” and “Edit” menus of the browser).

Long Title: This is the main heading in the content of the web page (using a <h1> HTML element). Usually the Title and Long Title contain the same text.

Document’s Alias: This is the “file name” of the page, which will show up in the web address of that page. For example, the alias of the Faculty section of the web site is “faculty” and the full web address is http://www.law.gmu.edu/faculty.

Template: The template is probably already selected, and probably does not need to be changed. There are specific templates for each section of the web site. Using the wrong template can give the page the wrong look, or break the page’s functionality in other ways.

Menu Index: This refers to the order of the pages in the Document Tree in MODX. The Menu Index can also used to display navigation menus on the public side of the web site. The pages will be ordered alphabetically if the menu index is the same (for example “0”) for all of the pages within a given directory. For the main Law School web site, the number 990 should be typed in as the default Menu Index. Other sub-sites may use different numbers. (Using a large number like 990 allows you to type in lower numbers later on for other pages, if you want them to appear at the top of the menu system.)

Show in Menu: If this is selected, it makes the page available to scripts that can generate navigation menu systems on the web site. Not all folders or pages are used by these scripts, but with the “show in menu” option checked, the pages will show up in the menu; with it unchecked, they won’t show in the menu.

Document Content: This is where you edit the main part of the web page. Most user accounts have a word processor style interface here, so you don’t need to know HTML markup code.

  • Links:
    • Links to external web sites: Select the word(s) that you want to make clickable, then click on the link icon (which looks like a chain link). Type in the full web address of the link (including the “http://”)
    • Links to pages within MODX: It’s best to use the MODX ID of the page, rather than the path or file name. Click on the link icon, then type the MODX ID using this format: [~1234~] where “1234” is the MODX ID of the document. The brackets and tildes (~) are required. How do you find the MODX ID? Look at the number in parentheses after the page name in the Document Tree. Note: You may not have permission to see all of the files in the MODX system. If that is the case, you will need to use the path of the file, relative to the root directory of the site. The link to the faculty page would look like this: “/faculty”. The link to a page deeper in the system would look something like this: “/faculty/news/details”. But if the ID number is available to you, please use it! It is definitely the preferred method.
    • Links to files (Word, PDF, etc.):MODX Click on the link icon, then click on the red/white/blue icon to the right of the “link URL” field. Browse to the folder where the file is (or where you want to put the file). Click on the file to select it, or use the features at the bottom of the file browser to upload a new file. Remember to first go to the correct directory before uploading it!
  • Headings: Always use real headings (not just big bold text, for example). Choose the appropriate heading from the “Format” drop-down list. The “Long Title” is heading 1, so any headings in your content should start with heading 2.
  • Text alignment: Use the “Styles” drop down menu to align text left, right, center, or justified.
  • Images: To insert an image, put your cursor where you want the image to be, then click on the icon that looks like a tree. You can either use an image that’s already on the web site, or else upload a new image. Either way, you will need to click on the red/white/blue icon to the right of the “Image URL” field. This will bring up a file browser. Either choose an image from among the existing ones, or use the features at the bottom of the file browser to upload a new image. Make sure you upload it to the correct directory! (You must be in the correct directory before you upload the file.)
  • Other options: On most pages, the other options (description, summary, menu title, etc.) are not required, and can be left blank.

Creating New Pages

To create a new page, go to the Document Tree, find the folder where you want the document to be, right-click that folder, then select “Create document here.” Then fill in the information for that page in the Main Window.

Other Features

MODX has many other features. This tutorial will be expanded over time to give more information about those other features.