Monkey Do

I love working with ExpressionEngine, and one of the things that’s great about it is the deep bench of third-party add-ons available for it. I’ll try and skip some of the obvious candidates (Assets, Matrix, Playa, Freeform, etc etc), and share some favorites that maybe not everyone is using yet.

Just as Pixel & Tonic’s Assets has all but replaced the native file manager, so MightyBigRobot’s Field Editor has replaced the native channel fields editor. Such a time saver.

Mountee allows you to mount your ExpressionEngine templates as a local drive, allowing you to work with templates, snippets, and global variables as simple text files right from the Finder. I won’t work without it.

When moving a site from one server to another (or even to a new location on the same server) it can be a nightmare to track down all the references to the old URL and server path. Reelocate takes care of all that for you.

A dead-simple backup manager, Safeharbor makes scheduled backups of both your site’s files and your MySQL database. Safeharbor even goes a step farther and can send those files to Amazon’s S3 service, meaning if your server goes down your backups are off-site.

John D. Wells’ Minimee makes your front end faster by compressing and concatenating your CSS and javascript files. You can continue to work with uncompressed versions, while at the same time serve smaller and faster minimized versions to the public.

I’m sure most people already use CE Image for auto-resizing, auto-cropping, auto-almost-anything of images, but here’s why it’s really such a huge win: It has totally streamlined the workflow I provide to my end users by almost completely avoiding all “image prep.” Clents are often inexperienced at image production, so to be able to take that off their plate is a godsend for them.

In my opinion, EllisLab has made some odd choices regarding 404 behavior in EE, but HTTP Header helps out with that by making sure 404 templates are sent with the correct headers.

Fixx-ee defeats another odd choice made by EllisLab by setting the default text formatting for new fields to “None,” instead of “XHTML.” It also sets “Automatically turn URLs and email addresses into links?” to “No.”

Updated: @kristengrote just let me know that thankfully the latest version of ExpressionEngine no longer has these defaults.

Health Check adds a useful tab to your control panel’s footer, showing you lots of useful info, including a list of all your add-ons, your upload directories, and any problems with file and folder permissions.

Another bottom-of-the-control-panel tab, I love Template Variables so much. Having a comprehensive list of fields and their syntaxes at all times is a giant time-saver.

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