First Annual AcademEE Awards

December 22, 2008
by Ryan Masuga

The 1st Annual AcadamEE awards are issued by devot:ee for the best add-ons and the top EE developer for 2008.

Trophy HeadquartersPhoto by jmv via flickr.

Everyone loves awards (right? right?), so we at devot:ee thought it would be in the interest of everyone who loves ExpressionEngine to bestow some awards – because there are definitely some add-ons and developers worthy of some recognition, and you may discover something new that’s worthy of your attention. The idea for some sort of recognition sort of started unofficially in the EE forums last year, when mdesign threw out a list of top ten favorite developers for 2007 called 2007 pEEps of the Year.

From the seed planted in that most humble forum thread, devot:ee now announces the 1st Annual AcademEE Awards for ExpressionEngine excellence. We hope that if you haven’t yet heard of some of the winners that you go and check them out. You–and your ExpressionEngine development skills–will be glad you did.

This year we came up with a few basic categories and picked the winners ourselves. The nominating and voting process for the 2008 awards was entirely not fair and subject to our whim, but next year we would like to get you involved in nominations and voting, and be able to offer the winners something for all their hard work.

The categories for the 2008 AcademEE Awards are:

  • Extension of the Year
  • Plugin of the Year
  • Module of the Year
  • Developer of the Year

And now…The Winners

Extension of the Year

Winner: Playa, Brandon Kelly
Yeah, it’s that good. It’s that useful. ExpressionEngine is a very powerful CMS for one reason (among many): relating entries. But it only goes so far. There is no native one-to-many custom field type. Epic FAIL! That’s where Playa (get it? Playa, multiple relationships…) comes in and saves the day, and with a very easy to use field type to boot. Move your entries from left to right, and then move them up and down to re-order them. If you haven’t used Playa on a site build up to now, we can probably guess a couple things: Your sites aren’t very complex; or you simply do some things the HARD way. Clients love it. You’ll love it too, you playa, you.

Great job, Brandon.

Runners Up:
Gypsy, Brandon Kelly – A much needed extension that just came on the scene last week. Allows custom fields to be free of their field groups. This is extremely cool, but hasn’t been in use long enough to be a winner.
LG Better Meta, Leevi Graham – Improve your sites’ SEO with custom page titles, descriptions, and more. Also has a sitemap generator. This is a very well thought-out module that is very flexible on the template side.
LG Live Look, Leevi Graham – Allows you to get proper entry previews in the EE Control Panel.


Plugin of the Year

Winner: ImgSizer, Lumis
Lumis – David Rencher

This ExpressionEngine plugin will resize any JPG GIF or PNG image to the desired size specified in your EE tag and cache the resized image to the cache folder. If you update the original image a new resized version will be created. If the image is not on the server the tag will not return anything. The general architecture of this plug-in is setup in a way that it only processes images when needed.

Had there been AcademEE awards last year, this probably would have won this category then as well. This is an enormously useful plugin that works very well when clients have a single image that needs to appear in different sizes in different places on different templates. Either that or for strict damage control for those clients who always seem to upload images that are too large. This plugin can be used in conjunction with just about any extension or field that allows the client to upload an image.

Runners Up:
LG Replace, Leevi Graham – A very robust, and in our opinion underrated plugin that allows you to insert highly complex dynamic data right in the middle of static content.
Paginatee, Victor Gutierrez – Offers a very flexible way to paginate entries.
TruncHTML, Silenz – Creating excerpts can be a major pain, but this plugin does a fantastic job, and makes sure to close open tags as well.


Module of the Year

Winner: User, Solspace

The module allows you to create the various pages and forms to let your members maintain their profiles without having to use the native EE member templates and functionality. User includes the ability to invite people to join your website. You can generate an invitation key that when used, allows someone to join a specific member group that you have designated.

Anyone who has ever tried to use the native EE member templates knows they can be a headache. Although User is on the high-end of all EE add-ons price-wise, we think this one is worth it in the time you will save being able to use standard templates for member-related things. Do we wish EE did this natively? Absolutely, but that’s another article. For now, Solspace has filled a corner niche with User that has saved much time and hair-pulling.

Runners Up:
Tag, Solspace – Like the name says: Tag your weblog entries with keywords, create “Clouds”, and show entries by shared tags. Very polished. Probably Solspace’s best offering.
Favorites, Solspace – Allow users to save entries as Favorites (both public and private).
Linklocker, Brad Street – Protect and track file downloads and much, much more.


Developer of the Year

Winner: Leevi Graham, Newism, Newism
Leevi is a prolific EE developer who is quick answering support questions through the EE forums. He also has, hands down, the best documentation of any developer who makes add-ons for ExpressionEngine. If you can’t get one of Leevi’s add-ons working after having read the docs or the official EE forum threads, you probably don’t know up from down anyway. Leevi always has something new up his sleeve and frequently leaks screenshot son flickr or QuickSnapper through his Twitter account. Great job, Leevi!

Runners Up:
Brandon Kelly
Victor Gutierrez

Thanks to everyone for all their hard work helping to extend ExpressionEngine! You should consider donating to these developers, all of whom have probably helped you save a considerable amount of development time. If you care to follow some of the winners on Twitter, here are some links:

Leevi Graham: leevigraham
Newism: Newism
Brandon Kelly: brandonkelly
Victor Gutierrez: trulyee
Solspace: solspace

Have ideas for other award categories? Please let us know via email or leave a comment here so we can make these awards bigger, better and more rewarding next year.


OrganizedFellow 12.22.08

Amazing article.

I have encountered countless threads where Levi, Victor and the gang mentioned, have detailed posts for newbies and others seeking help. Very insightful bunch of people.

Although, not a developer, Michael Boyink deserves a great deal of applaud, for his dedication to getting EE well understood and recognized. Perhaps in another award article? :)

Peter 12.22.08

Congratulations, all on the list definitely deserve it!

Sean 12.22.08

Everyone on this list is definitely worthy.

Philip Meissner 12.22.08

I also have to give props to Michael Boyink. I’ve had several “light bulb” moments due to his well written tutorials and screencasts.

MarmaldeToday 12.23.08

In reply to comments above, perhaps there should also be a category for Educator of the Year.

I’d guess that Ryan Ireland should be nominated for EE Screencasts and his regular EEHelpChat, Also Mark Bowen who seems to have been omnipresent on the forum (though we mustn’t forget the Official support team too). Naturally Michael Boyink should be recognised yearly for Train-ee online and his classes. And perhaps we should wave at the EE Roadshow team too.

Sure I’ve forgotten people, and for that I sincerely apologise, but I’m sure you’ll all flag up what’s fallen off my radar ;-)

Tristan Bailey 12.23.08

Ryan has been great with his chats that I have stayed up to 1am to join in on a couple of times. And Michael Boyink for his help and nice book.

One main winner is the Forum and the quick replies of the staff and key people. Derek Allard has been a nice blog to follow though more quiet now he his helping 2.0.

We have hit a few walls with EE this year but work though most and enjoying using it and the community and waiting for the next release, to boost before the end of the year..

Mark Bowen 12.23.08

Totally agree with the award choices above. Playa is a simply fantastic extension and Image Sizer immediately goes into every single ExpressionEngine install that I undertake. I’ve not purchased the User module yet as haven’t had a need for it but I know from other Solspace modules that I have purchased that their code is absolutely fantastic and I’ve never ever had a problem with their add-ons. The help over there in their forums is fantastic too. Props to Leevi too as his work is some of the best out there for ExpressionEngine.

Can’t wait to see the rest of this site when it is up and running. Should be a great resource for people to use.

Best wishes,


vossavant 02.05.09


A bit late coming, but I was assembling a list of my favorite EE extensions, etc. and wanted to give _you _ props for your Character Count plugin. Very flexible and very useful.

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