18 months later, open sourcing was the right decision

Over on my personal blog I’ve written a post about how open sourcing Dlayer not only helped me but also the app I am trying to built, below are a couple of quotes.

Fitting a project in around your life…

Realising Dlayer has been challenging, finding the time and money to work on my projects isn’t simple, it is about balance, you need to ensure you have enough cash flow to ensure your family is safe and comfortable, but on the other hand, you need the time to develop your projects.

I’m looking for help…

Dlayer isn’t ready for prime time yet; there is still much to do, progress is consistent, and I’m getting my house in order so that the first contributors have a great experience.

Release v1.09

I have just released v1.09 of Dlayer; the Form Builder has taken a huge step forward, it now has tools :). There are four element tools, after v1.11 I will start expanding the feature set of the Content Manager and Form Builder, I’m concentrating on getting the basics in place at the moment.

The full changelog for v1.09 is below:

– Select parent row and column buttons now have the correct URI when a content item is selected. [Bugfix]
– Minor update to the signed in page. [UI]
– Added the ‘Text element` tool. [Feature]
– Added the ‘Textarea element` tool. [Feature]
– Added the ‘Email element` tool. [Feature]
– Added the ‘Password element` tool. [Feature]
– Element label and description are now part of the attributes table. [Database]
– Added form field selector. [Feature]
– Starting to build up the test suite. [Tests]
– The active site is visibly clearer on the signed in page. [UI]
– Added the control bar to non-designer pages. [UX]
– Minor update to the layout of Form Builder and Content Manager dashboards. [UI]
– General refactoring and minor fixes.

Goals for v1.09 through to v1.11

Now that the foundation of the Form Builder is in place I can start work on the tools. Once v1.09 of Dlayer is complete, you will be able to create and edit a form; the Form Builder will include live previews when in edit mode. Your forms can then be imported into the Content Manager using the “Import form” tool.

In v1.10 I will flesh out the standard tools by adding the sub tools, I will also add the ordering controls for fields. In v1.11 I will include the tools which will allow you to alter the layout of your forms.

The Form Builder won’t initially support all the element types, I’m starting with the basic elements and will grow the feature set quickly and increase the number of preset tools.

Release v1.08

I have just released v1.08 of Dlayer; this is another minor release and includes all the foundation code for the Form Builder, the designer itself, the control bar and the ribbon. The Form Builder shows the selected form, and there is also a preview action which displays the form without the designer chrome.

The full changelog for v1.08 is below:

  • I have removed the full SQL exports, no longer required, setup module will be used for all imports.
  • Added foundation for the Form Builder, this shows the currently selected form, the control bar and ribbon.
  • Added a Preview mode to display the final form.
  • Moving to a separate layout per designer.

Release v1.07

I have just released v1.07 of Dlayer; this version includes the groundwork for the Form Builder, you can create and edit the definition for a form. The module is deliberately limited, I have done the minimum necessary so that I can work on implementing the builder itself. I will update the new and edit actions soon; you will then be able to set additional options for your forms.

  • Added the foundation code for the Form Builder module.
  • You can now add and edit form definitions, name and title as of this release.
  • Added initial code for the Form Builder session class.
  • Minor styling updates to forms, the further reading block and lists.

The Form Builder

Dlayer is going to expand; I am now going to start returning the modules I removed before the Open Source release, first on the list is the Form Builder.

The Form Builder was the most substantial module in Dlayer but being the oldest module it needed the most work to bring it up to scratch, I decided it would be easier to tighten up the Content Manager and return the other modules later.

There is no hidden meaning behind the name; the Form Builder lets you quickly and easily build custom forms, these can then be imported as content items into the Content Manager, Template Designer or used within widgets in the Widget Designer.

According to my Pivotal Tracker project, it will take me five releases to restore the Form Builder, each of these releases will be small but I want to build it iteratively, the GitHub project is now live.

I may take the occasional break to work on something else; there are 31 stories in my icebox that I need to complete in addition to the Form Builder.

Release v1.06

I have just released v1.06 of Dlayer, in this version, I have added the ability to create responsive layouts and also improved the UI by adding a control bar to the bottom of the screen.

The toolbar has been causing me issues for a while, it is quite often out of view, either pushed down by the ribbon or out of view because I am looking at the lower half of a page. The control bar remains fixed to the bottom of the screen, the navigation buttons and any appropriate tool buttons are now always accessible.

The full changelog for v1.06 is below:

  • Removed additional terminators in SQL data files. [Bugfix]
  • Added a settings sub tool to columns, allows the column width and offset to be defined. [Feature]
  • Added a glyph style field to tool tabs table, added to allow glyph icons to be rotated.
  • Moved column type from the columns structure table, now a separate table. [Database]
  • Added a responsive sub tool to columns, you can now set the column width for the ‘xs’, ‘sm’ and ‘lg’ layouts, Dlayer defaults to ‘md’. [Feature]
  • Added a control bar to the bottom of the designer, houses the cancel button and navigation controls for Content Manager. [UX]
  • The tool buttons are now in the new control bar. [UX]
  • Added missing foreign keys. [Database]
  • Removed redundant tables from the database. [Database]
  • Updated the tool ribbon classes, general refactoring.
  • Other minor fixes and improvements.

Release v1.05

Later today I will release v1.05 of Dlayer, I have finally added a setup module which eases setting up the database but more importantly will help with database changes going forward.

The setup process is rudimentary, I will improve it over time, I need to add support for creating/managing users and also add the facility to run PATCH files. For now, I am content with the process; it is better than importing a large SQL file and will act as a solid foundation to develop.

The full changelog for v1.05 is below:

  • I have added a live preview when editing text, jumbotron and heading content items. [Feature]
  • Corrected the class names for the heading tool; it will now correctly load in the demo. [Bugfix]
  • Added a setting to application.ini which controls whether or not the test credentials display on the sign-in page. [Feature]
  • Split the database export into three files per table, one for the structure, another for the data and a third to define the foreign keys.
  • I have added a setup module; this allows you to create the tables for the database and imports the required data, there are four options, import demo database, import base database, reset to demo state and reset to clean state. [Feature]

Goals for v1.05 and v1.06 of Dlayer

With v1.05 I will finally get around to the set-up and reset scripts, I am however going to keep it very simple initially. I am going to add a setup module with actions to reset the app back to demo state, erase all data and also set-up users.

In addition to the set-up module, I am also going to add a config setting to control whether test credentials are shown, fix the live editing previews for content items and do a little more refactoring. The v1.05 development board is up on GitHub.

With v1.06 I will add the initially responsive controls, you should be able to manage how your web pages flow from device to device. I will also work fixing any remaining issues in the core of the Content Manager in preparation for the return of the Form Builder. The v.1.06 development board will appear sometime before I finish v1.05.

Release v1.04

I have just released v1.04 of Dlayer; this version is only a small update, there are three bug fixes and a couple of UX and UI improvements, the UX change should help to reduce the number of clicks as per v1.03.

The full changelog for v1.04 is below:

  • I have updated the styling sub tools, the Form, Model and Tool classes extend from shared classes as per the typography sub tool.
  • If you only have one page in the Content Manager, it is now automatically selected.
  • The title and subtitle set for a form now display in the Content Manager [Bugfix].
  • I have updated the content for the demo sign-in page; it now shows the changelog for the latest version.
  • The heading type is now updateable for heading based content items [Bugfix].
  • If you try to create a new content item when in edit mode for an existing content item you will no longer be met with a nasty error [Bugfix].
  • I have added controls to select the sibling (next|previous) content items in a column; this should reduce the number of clicks when editing [UX].
  • I have added titles above each of the new navigation controls, ‘Parents’ and ‘Column content items’.