Functions have made life a heck of a lot easier too. Here's an mcf file I wrote that summons a ring of smoke around players. Just a little proof of concept to show what you can do with it.
If you want to test it out for yourself, open up your .minecraft and find the world save you want to put it in. Go to /data/functions/ and create a new folder and just call it particle and then place the mcf file in it. Then open up your game and set a repeating, always active command block to run /function particle:smoke and you're set.