EE & Member Management, Lea Alcantara

EE & Member Management, Lea Alcantara Picture

Membership management is something every EE developer has to face: whether it’s as simple as separating Super Admins from Content Managers or building a full-fledged subscription-based site. Lea Alcantara discusses the various native and third-party membership options out there, what options are best suited for a specific need, limitations with EE membership, and also outline the common member import mistakes that Alcantara personally went through so you don’t have to.

Lea Alcantra

Membership and conditional content for members.

Member registration and Assignment to Member groups with customer permissions.

EE Member Permissions are basic but powerful.


  • Different people see what they need to see.
  • Controlling layout in the site and CP (natively and with add-ons)
  • Controlling content in the site and the CP


  • The more complicated your needs, the more EE is revealed to be basic
  • Ability to access member templates (sucks) - Doesn’t use native template engine. The member template list is very “Un-EE” like.
  • No ability to have one member in multiple groups or subcategorized within a group.
  • Member custom field options are limited. Three basic custom field types (text input, text area, select list).
  • Can’t edit the profile fields to only show necessary fields.
  • Importing / Exporting Member Data is hard, complicated (former) or non-existent (latter).

A simple project may never run into the “cons.”

Do you need third party solutions? Ask yourself:

  • Does the site budget allow?
  • Do non-admins need front-end editing capabilities?
  • Is the technical knowledge of the users and staff limited?
  • Do you need e-commerce capabilities?
  • Is this mainly a content-based site with subscriptions?
  • Do you need reports or automated emails?

If you answered yes… Add-ons, add-ons, add-ons!

Member Templates

  • Solspace User ($99.95)
  • Need control over logins, errors and registration pages? Exp:resso Freemember (free) and Objectivehtml Authenticate (free)
  • Only need Registration / Sign Up Freedom? Add-On Bakery - Simple Registration ($19)

Multiple Member Groups

The fix:

  • Add On Bakery - AB Member Categories ($29)
  • Intoeetive Member Categories ($12.50)
  • Solspace User can also use native EE categories to assign members.

Custom Member Fields

  • EE Zoo Visitor ($59.99)
  • MightyBigRobot Profile Edit ($64.99)

Because they use the channel module, you can easily create front-end templates with their fields. Natively: Create all fields manually yourself but there are no hooks to the member module.

Member Data Export

The Fix - EE Garage NSM Reports ($49.95)

You need to understand MYSQL Queries. Fortunately, advanced member data export is one of the included sample reports! Reports generated in the browser, CSV, TSV, HTML, XML. Reports can be emailed via the interface.


  • Using User? Don’t need to use Zoo Visitor. Redundant.
  • Differences? User uses native member fields and allows the use of custom member fields. Hooks into member module. Zoo visitor does not. Zoo visitor was better suited for “new” member sites.

Member Data Import

It’s complicated. No current add-ons to help this.

How to import member data?

  • Make sure they don’t give you an excel file that are current and clean. No missing columns.
  • Data in CSV format to convert to XML. You can convert an Excel table to CSV.
  • Start with a basic Excel file.
  • Required Data: username, screen_name, email, password.
  • Anything else will import as custom member fields. Fields have to exist first.
  • If password doesn’t exist, EE will auto generate them for you.

Member Import Utilities

  • Tools > Utilities > Import Utilities> Member Import Utility
  • Convert CSV to XML. Use this tool to guarantee it will work with EE. CSV must be uploaded to server. Choose site root because it was used in the sample.
  • Use Enclosing Character
  • If everything works, you will then associate the Member Fields with the Custom Member Fields.
  • Confirm Field Assignment
  • You will them download an EE ready XML to import.
  • Upload the XML to site root and then Import from XML.
  • Submit, Confirm, Import.
  • Success (Green Exclamation Point).

But if it goes wrong?

You should really test locally before importing to the live version!

Data Issues you may run into:

  • Duplications (username, email, etc)
  • Empty Content in a required field
  • Username is less than 6 characters
  • Import too large: Memory error (Import 500 members at a time).
  • Secret Windows break space! Can’t see the error unless you are viewing it in the Terminal on Mac or Wordpad on Windows.
  • Fix by opening on in Google Docs, Windows PC, NeoOffice.

Not Enough?

  • Electric Function Membrr ($145) - combines subscriptions, payments, emails, etc.
  • EE Zoo - Flexible Admin ($22)
  • Airways - Member Segments ($5)
  • VMG - Chosen Member (Free)

Native vs Hybrid

  • What are client needs?
  • How much customization?
  • Consider what add-ons are overkill?
  • Which add-ons combine multiple functions?


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About The Author

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  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
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