ExpressionEngine Add-on Development

Published on 10th June, 2010

For quite a while now, I’ve been mulling over the idea of writing a series of blog posts covering the nitty-gritty of developing ExpressionEngine add-ons; everything from the initial idea, right through to the everyday practicalities of support.

What prompted this?

The initial impetus for this was the lack of current writing on the subject. The official ExpressionEngine Developer documentation will get you up and running, and the forums can be a great help during your initial forays into add-on development. After that, you’re pretty much on your own.

In particular, the more time you spend developing ExpressionEngine add-ons, the more apparent it becomes that “serious” development topics aren’t widely discussed within the EE community. Try finding some useful information about Test-Driven Development in ExpressionEngine, for example.

The best way for us to improve our collective development skills (sorry, skillz) is to start discussing these topics; to share our ideas, our mistakes, and our hard-won knowledge.

What to expect

Given that the subject under discussion is add-on development, it makes sense to cover topics in the order that they would be encountered when developing an add-on.

Here’s my initial topic list:

  • Deciding what to build
  • Defining the scope of your add-on
    • What the add-on is, and is not
    • Identifying core features, nice-to-haves, and someday-maybes
  • Designing the user interface
  • Testing the user interface
  • Software design
    • Object-oriented design
    • Design patterns
  • Test-driven development
  • Beta testing
  • Pricing
  • Release and promotion
  • Support
  • Beyond 1.0

Some items on the list will doubtless need to be broken down further. Others may be dropped, or combined, depending on how much of value I have to say on the subject. In short, this shouldn’t be viewed as a table of contents for my yet-to-be-written blog series; it’s simply some initial thoughts on what I could write about.

There are only two ground rules:

  1. The series will focus on ExpressionEngine 2 add-on development.
  2. PHP4 is persona non grata.

It’s the future kids, get used to it. Everything else is up for debate, and that’s where you come in.

What I need from you

Are there any topics you’d particularly like me to cover? Have any of my proposed topics already been covered in-depth?

Tell me what interests you, and I’ll do my best to update my plans accordingly.

If you’re already well-versed in some of the more esoteric subjects listed (I’m looking at you, “design patterns in ExpressionEngine add-ons”), brilliant, get in touch. I’d love to include a guest post or interview, or just pick your brains for a while.

Cast your vote, spread the word, and help me to regret ever embarking upon this foolish venture.