Relationships in ExpressionEngine

Note - this screencast was produced to cover ExpressionEngine 1x.  ExpressionEngine 2 has greatly enhanced Relationship abilities that rival the 3rd party add-ons mentioned in this screencast. Train-ee recommends purchasing our EE 2 Book for the latest development approaches.

Relationships are hard, aren’t they?  I mean - not only do you have to figure them out in your offline face to face world, then you sit down to learn them in ExpressionEngine and they’re still difficult.

This 49 minute screencast can’t help you earn stripes from a manager running your workteam like an Army platoon nor can it help you deal with that coworker who keeps stealing your lunch from the shared fridge. 

What this screencast can do is give you a complete education around ExpressionEngine relationships - from defining what they are, to looking at specific types, to comparing relationships to categories, to working with EE’s native relationship capabilities, and then working with two of the leading 3rd party relationship extensions (Playa from Brandon Kelly and Related Entries from Solspace). 

All examples are presented within the context of a portfolio site with clients and projects that need to be tied together.

Once past the introduction the screencast has the following outline:

  • Definitions
    It’s always a good idea to start with defining new concepts first - so that’s what happens here.
  • Types
    EE’s relationships have their roots in the database world, so the screencast covers the three most common type of database relationships.  This helps frame what EE is capable of natively as well as what the 3rd party pieces bring to the party.
  • +/-
    Relationships are really handy in EE, but are they always the right answer?  This portion of the screencast looks at the advantages and disadvantages of using them vs. EE’s categories.
  • Native
    Using EE’s native relationship abilities isn’t always obvious from the documentation.  Learn the basic “tricks to going native” for getting the most out of EE.
  • 3rd Party
    The 3rd party market has taken the stock relationship capabilites and added fuel injection and headers. This portion of the screencast takes a detailed look at both the Playa (V 2.0.4) extension from Brandon Kelly, and Solspace’s Related Entries (V 1.1.2) offering.  See how they come in to the EE Control Panel, how content admins would work with them, how they appear on your rendered site, how to code with them to pull related entries, reverse related entries, and how to handle exceptions.


  • Basic familiarity with EE.  The screencast starts at adding relationships - so assumes you can do the work up to that point of creating weblogs, field groups, entering content etc.  If those concepts are still new to you, you might be better off starting with the Building an ExpressionEngine Site - Small Business book.
  • Some knowledge and experience with spreadsheets, database tables, or other “rows and columns” of data.