The Builder idea

Posted in Philosophy, Announcements on Jul 30, 2014

The dream of the OctoberCMS founders has always been to create a web development platform that is nice and easy to work with for both developers and end users. We keep implementing this dream, step by step. Today we want to tell you about the next big feature we've planned. This feature is mostly for developers, but it's difficult to underestimate its impact on developers building for clients.

The idea of building an entire plugin using visual tools was part of October's vision from the beginning. As you may know, we came from a world of great desktop development platforms that have implemented some awesome ideas decades ago. The ideas we saw many years ago still inspire us and we want to share them with you. The Builder in OctoberCMS is going to be the incarnation of those ideas.

What is the Builder

In short, the Builder is a set of visual tools for developing OctoberCMS plugins and their elements. It's a modern implementation of Rapid Application Development (RAD) concepts.

builder-mockup.png

The purpose of the Builder is to reduce plugin development costs and return the joy of web development. As many other things in October it gets back to basics. Some of the planned features include:

  • Creating a new plugin scaffold code
  • Creating and editing the database objects
  • Creating and editing plugin back-end lists and forms
  • Creating plugin back-end navigation menus
  • Creating and editing back-end pages

Some of the ideas have already been implemented in October. The Inspector is an universal tool that could be used with any object on the page as long as it has the required data attributes.

We chose the YAML format because it's writable and readable by both humans and computers. The Builder will use the YAML files for generating the configuration UI. For example, it will read the forum configuration file and generate the editable fields. When the developer saves the form, the Builder will simply update the YAML file.

Why the Builder

We believe the Builder is one of the key features that will fundamentally change the way web developers create web sites and applications. Instead of writing multiple files manually they will use nice-looking visual tools that create those files in the back-ground. In some cases developers won't even need to know that the YAML configuration files exist. The Builder won't write any business logic or PHP code of course, but it will minimize the boring, routine everyday tasks that spoil the fun of the modern web development. For the end users (clients), the Builder means more consistent back-end UIs, faster and cheaper development cycles and the confidence that OctoberCMS is exactly the right tool!

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