5.7 Thoughts, Impresions, Desires
I’m not an advanced programmer, but I do have almost 5 years experience actively developing with Concrete5. I think under the hood some great work has been done introducing new technologies and improving the code base, in time it should be a very stable and robust platform.
Over the weekend I spent about about 10 hours working with 5.7. I host a Concrete5 Cheat Sheet (http://www.weblicating.com/cheat-sheet) I started by going through the Cheat Sheet and testing code snippets to see which ones worked with 5.7 and began correcting those that did not work to provide versions for both 5.6x and 5.7x.
At this point I have experimented with themes, files, file sets, attributes, page types, embedded blocks, users and started converting a block to 5.7. The good news for developers working with themes and view.php files, not a lot has changed, many of the ways you are use to doing things still work.
Working with controllers and blocks has changed and with the lack of documentation it takes a lot of time experimenting to get things working. Converting blocks can be very time consuming needing to track down the cause of errors created from the old code. I’m starting to believe the best approach is just to re-write the block specifically for 5.7 rather than trying to modify the existing code.
Five years ago when I first found Concrete5 I was so impressed with its intuitive dashboard and ease of use. Todays User Interface, slick, shinny and animated with sliding panels and boxes, lacks the intuitiveness and the ease of use of former versions.
Adding New Pages borders on insanity. clicking the Pages button displays a right side panel where you select a Page Type and possibly a Page Template, then you are displayed a left side panel with page options, or you might just get a composer page or and empty page. There’s no consistency on how pages are added.
Trying to save the page, the left side panel with save/publish options may or may not work depending on your having successfully found and filled in the needed information. It can take accessing up to three sliding side panels to successfully add a page to a site. Certainly this could all be done in one admin sidebar that contained all the page related functions. (Combine the Pencil, Gear and Page buttons all into one sidebar). Also, there is often a blue page pending approval box showing up on pages that have already been published.
The left sidebar to add blocks with its almost black background with almost black icons and dark gray print is very hard to read. Dragging the cute animated icons out to the page often ends up with them being dropped in the wrong area and then having to be moved. It’s cute but clumsy. Adding blocks would be better by clicking the page area and having the same dialog box like the Stacks Interface has, it’s clean and fast.
In edit mode (with the Elemental theme) it is hard to find content areas, on some areas hovering shows area names on others it doesn’t. It’s hard to know where you are on the page, especially with pages that have not yet been filled with a lot of content. Some areas when hovered overlap onto of areas below them making the layout look like there is something wrong with it.
I really miss the history bar we had in 5.6, the 5.7 interface create a lot more button pushing to get things done, it’s a step backwards in functional design.
I’m continuing to up date my cheat sheet (http://www.weblicating.com/cheat-sheet) to reflect the changes in 5.7 and provide a helpful resource to the community. I welcome and encourage any one who can send me code snippets to add 5.7 functionality to contact me at [email protected] and help speed up the process of having a 5.7 compatible Cheat Sheet
Thanks to the community and C5 team (sorry if I’m blasting on you!)
I appreciate all the feedback you have provided here and the link to your cheat sheet is fantastic. So thanks for that resource. It seems invaluable.
I can't comment on the nuances between 5.6 and 5.7 bc I've never used 5.6 with anything in production - just small testing on local machine. But so far I am impressed with 5.7, and for a newbie it all seems pretty intuitive. There are already a few "click glitches" I have found in 5.7 that are little pesky but doesn't seem to take away from the "clean" authoring and admin experience which is great.
Agree with you on the Adding New Pages - it seems a little convoluted.
I expect that C5.7 was built from the ground up to provide better framework, and better extensibility long term which should make updating or changing the code functionality of things like Adding Page easier.
Appreciate all that you do, Peter.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds page creation in 5.7 is ridiculously confusing. Its gone from "Oh this makes sense." to "Why is this so hard? What am I doing wrong? Why didn't that work?"
Also agree on the Stacks comment.
Its a big change for sure, and I'm pulling for the team to get things ironed out.
I'm so excited about 5.7 but part of me is just getting frustrated with how much the 5.6 interface is embedded in me rather than the 5.7 interface causing issues.
Understandably there are bugs which i'm having to work round but i'm constantly clicking the area looking for the add block menu and correcting myself. Lack of documentation has also made me release how much I relied on the documentation and forums.
While I also have about five years of development experience of Concrete 5, I do not have a lot of experience from developer's point of view on 5.7 yet, so I cannot comment on editing themes, converting block etc.
However, based on my initial impression on the new UI, you managed to summarize nicely the troublesome aspects. I really hope to see some improvement there. I listed my concerns in another thread (in the chit-chat forum):
On 16 Sep 2014 09:35, "concrete5 Community" <[email protected]>
The described action is basically from 5.6, but AFAIK it's the same in 5.7:
For example, lets say you want to divide the contents of your "Contact" page to two different pages for clarity's sake. In sitemap, you then drag the page over it's parent to make a copy of the page under the same parent. The copy takes place immediately and now you have Contact and Contact 2 pages _visible_ in your navigation (which looks bad) and both pages have identical content. Why not make and extra checkbox to copy dialog to allow the user to save the new copy of the page as a draft? This way the copied page would be hidden until you rename it and/or edit the contents as desired.
Please correct me if there is already a workaround for this in 5.7.
Good to hear that there actually is a workaround for this, although I wouldn't mind seeing the functionality in the move/copy dialog also, as it would be more straighforward than using the versions tool (which surprisingly few customers ever use, despite being such an effective tool).
BTW, if you want to emphasize the drag 'n drop functionality in 5.7, have you thought of making the sitemap work in such way that you could actually drag a new page from the list of page types above the sitemap directly to the sitemap tree? I can only imagine that there would be a lot of variables to consider (permissions etc.) but such feature would nicely visually combine choosing the page type and choosing the page's location in the site. I'm not sure if this would work with a large site with huge sitemap though, especially with touch devices.
At first was excited to see the new version but after having a bit of time to play around with it, there are some things (from the UI perspective) which just don't seem all that great. I agree with comments on here about page creation. Even for an experienced person like me, it was frustrating trying to create a new page, so this will be even harder for my clients to pick up.
I clicked the new page icon in the toolbar (where are the template options?). Concrete then displays the page in editing mode but clicking the pencil icon to save (how do users know they have to click the pencil icon again to publish?) it tells me 'You must choose a page to publish this page beneath' and 'You must specify a page name'. It doesn't say how though. The only option is to click the 'save changes' button. Where has the page now gone? Obviously I know to look in the sitemap and then click 'Include System Pages in Sitemap' where the drafts folder lives but how do users know where that is? Using the sitemap to create a new page results in the same process and frustrations. Also not keen on the green outlines in edit mode, I thought the red dotted lines in 5.6 were clearer, maybe that's personal preference.
Also got very confused trying to get a duplicate Elemental theme installed in the applications/themes folder (I got the error message like a lot of other people) but finally worked it out reading stuff from another developer on here. Obviously there is no documentation yet which I'm sure will help but I feel there's quite a way to go before I'd feel confident about using this for a production site especially as no plugins are yet available.
I think if you're going to get new users on board, these things need to be ironed out to make it as simple as possible to get up and running with the basics as quickly as possible.
That said...I don't think that's good enough for a platform that wants to grow.
The single most missing element from C5.7 is simply "add block". You should be able to add blocks to areas by clicking on the area and selecting "add block".
Combine this with outlined editable areas returning...and it's a lot more usable IMHO.
Page creation is cumbersome. This, in part, is simply the design philosophy that "you must use composer now". I don't like being forced into that personally. (I think "empty page" forgoes composer....but again, that's not very intuitive at all. seems that should be named "basic page" regardless.)
To me, there should be three icons to the left-top-nav:
Add Page - adds a new blank page. If a page is in edit mode, this icon changes to an "edit in composer" icon. (perhaps a simple setting to determine load default - composer loads, or page edit loads. let users chose.) You would never have a need to do both at the same time.
Edit Page - Puts any page in edit mode or takes it out of edit mode.(setting to allow automatic add-block slide out. again...let users chose.) ("add block" is added to area's menu.) Point here is that "add block" should be an intuitive function of editing a page, not a separated dis-conjoined nav bar item. Currently, you have two ways to put a page into edit mode? clicking "edit page" or "add content". seems duplicitous. Simply adding "add block" to the area menu would solve this issue, and a settings could be added as to weather that link triggers slide-out drag-n-drop or dialog click-n-add. You have the pieces of this...it would not be all that difficult to execute.
Edit Page Properties - edit any pages theme/attributes...ect.
while I think there are a number of positive things to build on in 5.7, these are simple things that have powerful implications so far as usability.
No question just getting 5.7 where it is code wise is near-thousand man-hours of work. I get that. But at the end of the day...if it's clunky, people won't use it.
That is my concern.
All said and done, NONE of us, including Franz, know for sure how clients or potential clients will respond to C5.7.
Because of that uncertainty though, we demo several CMS's to our clients before any build out or quote. Then, if they are unhappy - it's what they chose, not me.
Hopefully Franz steps in and directly clarifies intentions on some of these things soon.
The single most missing element from C5.7 is simply "add block".
Both "slide-out drag-n-drop" and "click-n-add to area" with either a dialog or side panel should be available so users can choose the workflow they prefer.
I have been playing with 5.7 since beta and still when I installed a fresh 5.7.2 and opened the menu from an area, I was looking for the Add block button.
I know this is an old habit from 5.6 but it is still very useful and many times much easier to add blocks this way than dragging them around. For example if you are using a touch pad, it's much harder to be precise and drop the blocks in the correct place. It would be much easier to select the block from a list.
I also agree on everything Chad said above. I think 5.7.2 is a great improvement but it still needs work.
After all we are the people who have to sell this to our customers. And if we don't feel comfortable with it, we won't be able to give an honest presentation about why this system is the best. And as I have said earlier, this has always been the case when I have been demoing c5 compared to for example Drupal and WordPress. It has always been a pleasure to show how easy it is to use.
To be blunt, I don't think that it matters to our customers how great and bleeding edge the core and architecture of the system is if it is not easy and comfortable to use. But that said, I think we have taken steps towards making the UI better and we should keep building on that.
It's important to set the page types correctly before using them. In "Basic Settings" of a Page Type you can define:
- the default page template and allowed page templates
- whether composer should be launched or edit mode
- the default parent page (a certain page, all pages, certain types of pages)
I have chosen to let composer launch when adding a new page, to first give the new page a name and set the parent page, as well as set the page template if not using the predefined one, then i switch to edit mode to edit the content of the newly created page. Actually i see no problem...
While i agree that it may not be "intuitive" in the sense of "everybody on the street knows immediately what to do", i don't think that adding pages is a cumbersome procedure, one just has to know how to do it. Yes, it works differently from 5.6 - but one has to learn that only ONCE!