Showcasing ExpressionEngine websites from all over the web
Grand Sierra Resort
The premiere convention hotel in Reno, Nevada. Grand Sierra Resort is a combination of entertainment, adventure and leisure. Steve James, has an interactive and multimedia background originating from the Art Institute of Portland. He currently works with Grand Sierra Resort as the Web Development Project Manager and Senior Web Designer. Simon Bauman works with Grand Sierra Resort as Senior Web Developer. He’s the magic behind the scenes, creating customized applications built with CodeIgniter. Terry Valladon assists with web development. Terry creates customized applications in Code Igniter and custom modules for Expression Engine.
The team chose Expression Engine 1.6 for Grand Sierra’s website because of it’s flexible templating system. The resort’s website hosts a number of event calendars, movie listings, static pages and XML feeds. With a dozen active publishers, Expression Engine was the only choice to get the property up and running. One year later, the website was migrated to Expression Engine 2.1. The web team knew this was the right direction after attending EECI2010 in San Francisco. After meeting with dedicated developers and designers, it was obvious that solid development efforts were underway for Expression Engine 2.0.
What add-ons did you use?
The number one add-on of choice is unmistakably, Structure. Simply put, Structure assists client in understanding the website tree. It makes Expression Engine a real Content Management System. Travis Schmeisser and Jack McDade continue to develop and support the product very well.
WYGWAM (CKEditor and CKFinder) was originally used as the replacement to Expression Engine’s WYSIWYG editor, but the team switched to TinyMCE for several reasons. First, WYGWAM does not allow multiple file uploads in the file/image management tool. Secondly, the web team needed to integrate the WYGWAM’s or TinyMCE’s file/image browser as a custom FieldType. TinyMCE was easier to deal with.
NSM Better Meta is the best commercial meta data add-on for Expression Engine. Meta data can easily be entered via it’s own tab in the publish page.
Low Re-order was another add-on that helps the marketing team. It allows for custom re-ordering of channel entries. A simple tool that makes life easy.
Pixel and Tonic’s Matrix is a must-have for simplifying the publish page. Great for associating related custom fields into groups on the publish page.
And Solspace’s User module is a great add-on for creating custom registration and username/password retrieval forms. Reduces the amount of Expression Engine response screens the user sees.
Did you experience any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
The primary difficulties were lack of the core add-ons. The web team could not migrate to Expression Engine 2.0 without Structure or Matrix. It was a waiting game while the commercial developers caught up with ExpressionEngine 2.0.
It was a big concern for the web team was migrating from 1.6.8 to 2.1. Structure did not have a migration tool at the time so the entire website skeleton had to be re-built. With over 600 pages and listings, it was quite a task.
The web team was hoping for better image management in Expression Engine 2.0. Unfortunately, the built-in File Manager tool was not flexible enough for this project. However, implementing NSM TinyMCE, FileManager and ImageManager helped bridge the gap between WYSIWYG file management and custom field file management. The web team built a custom FieldType to completely eliminate the need for ExpressionEngine’s File Manager.
Company: Grand Sierra Resort