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MikeM

Help for non-developer evaluating ProcessWire

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I'm a hands-on non-developer, new to ProcessWire and checking it out for future use on a particular project.

The project is a forms-based collaboration web site, conceptually very simple, like a dating site or a freelance job site, where users create accounts and enter info via forms, browse content pulled from forms data, and so forth. Forms flexibility is the central requirement.

Currently, I'm using WordPress, Gravity Forms (a premium plugin), and a minimal responsive theme, to rough things out. Part of the way in, I haven't hit major problems in representing the skeleton of the idea, like, you read this, fill this out, then go to this page, etc. Notably, with Gravity, I can easily add conditional logic, so, depending on the input to a field, subsequent fields will appear (different paths for different users is important). Beyond that, I'm trying not to have to customize anything, instead using other plugins to do basic things like adding custom sidebars depending on page - it's quick and easy, so far. I'm using WordPress+plugins to sketch things out, without having to think about the underlying coding.

The next step plan is to use the WP version as an example (along with the written specs), and have a custom site developed - our own custom database and front-end - for efficiency, ease of future extension, and security. ProcessWire seems potentially like a great choice as the platform for the custom site, based on its apparent extreme flexibility  (I'm still trying to get a handle on that).

Right now, I'm wondering whether it makes sense for me to substitute PW for WP at this roughing out stage. I'm grasping the idea of PW being super flexible and atomic, but from what I've been reading, and from doing my-first-page stuff in a PW installation, there also seems to be a fairly steep learning curve for a non-dev like me.

QUESTIONS: Is it worth learning to use PW to where I can do with it what I am doing now with WP, in order to get an idea of whether PW is suitable for the custom site - I'm up for substituting PW scripting for WP plugins, but don't want to get lost in the weeds? Is there a better way for me to evaluate PW? Will learning to use PW at a beginner level be an advantage later on if we have a PW developer build the production site?

Any general thoughts would be...appreciated!

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ProcessWire will make you want to be, and then in a fairly short space of time become a developer. 

I've been using ProcessWire for a year now, and whilst I still haven't published any modules like the very talented people on this forum, I've more than tripled my clients, can take an idea to a working prototype stage in less than a week and honestly enjoy every minute I spend interacting with PW.

My previous background was purely as a web designer, bespoke designs but using various modules and essentially piecing sites together as many do.

I also started with a personal project to get my head around PW, it was essentially a membership based database where users could add 'titles' to their collection and share them with others, produce stats etc. I never finished it because I moved onto client work but it functions perfectly and was a great, pressure-free basis for learning PW.

I did a bit of maintenance this evening on an old clients WordPress site, and it's just a bloated, illogical mess and just being logged in feels like a security risk.

The other option you may want to consider is Laravel, which I started learning after picking up ProcessWire, but with having the CMS out of the box (plus a ton of other time saving benefits) means there's no real reason to use Laravel over PW.

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Welcome @MikeM!

2 hours ago, MikeM said:

The project is a forms-based collaboration web site, conceptually very simple, like a dating site or a freelance job site, where users create accounts and enter info via forms, browse content pulled from forms data, and so forth.

Probably not telling you something you don't already know: the project may be simple conceptually, but it won't be a simple development task. You'll need to work with an experienced developer in order to get a good result with this project.

PW is an excellent platform to use for just about any web project, and considering where you are posting this you'll probably find lots of people here who will tell you the same thing. But to be honest, there are many platforms that could be used successfully for this project - in reality the success is more likely to come down to the experience and skill of the developer you hire than the platform used. So seeing as you won't be building the site yourself, your task is really to evaluate developers rather than evaluate ProcessWire.

 

2 hours ago, MikeM said:

Currently, I'm using WordPress, Gravity Forms (a premium plugin), and a minimal responsive theme, to rough things out.

2 hours ago, MikeM said:

The next step plan is to use the WP version as an example (along with the written specs), and have a custom site developed

That sounds unusual to me - I haven't heard of people developing one site just to serve as an example for another site they want developed. More typical I think is to use a wireframing tool to show the flow of interactions. This helps you clarify to yourself how the website will work and also helps communicate your intentions to the developer. The wireframe could also demonstrate the design if you wanted that, using a tool such as Invision. Here are some links to a few popular wireframing apps if you want to look at that approach instead:
https://www.invisionapp.com/
https://www.mockflow.com/
https://wireframe.cc/

 

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Hi @MikeM and welcome to the forum,

your question was well structured and it seems that you put some time into writing your request. And you see that you got multiple helpful answers within a very short time period. That's how it usually works here - so if you decide to start learning pw you'll always find a helping hand here ;)

If you choose pw you should definitely take a look at my new module: 

You can build any form you want very easily. It's the only tool that I know that has frontend and backend validation in one go (making it super easy and fast to setup and highly maintainable) and it also has conditional fields, what you described as a must-have: https://doc.nette.org/en/2.4/form-validation

There's also the pro module formbuilder, but I have only bought and never used it :D so I can't tell you anything about it.

PS: If you need any assistance or new features for RockForms I would be happy to implement those features for you.

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Thanks for the thoughtful replies! Playing around with the Minimimal Site Profile, I just managed to achieve exactly what I wanted - hide the page title only on the home page - by adding an IF to _main.php - not an elegant solution, but one that worked, and the feeling was awesome. I'm used to messing with parts of applications, themes, plugins, to get what I want, but this is the first time it's actually how the whole thing works, not some isolated hack, but real learning. Amazing!

@DonPachi Thanks for the detailed rave review! Sounds like we're both in that huge class of folks who aren't by first choice focused on the tech side of the web, but are inevitably drawn in because it's all part of the same thing. Kinda like DJs when they started also producing and making music, some said they weren't real musicians...but that evolved!

I've spent maybe 3-4 hours total with ProcessWire so far, reading and with an installation of the default Minimal site, and my main thought is, "Why isn't everything like this?" This forum thread was also more than ecouraging: Site Architecture: How far to take Processwire "is the database"?

Hope to one day help someone with my own PW forum reply that's something like yours!

@Robin S Thanks for the high level view! Platform vs developer is very much on my mind, and your comments keep PW in perspective.

On 4/5/2018 at 6:02 PM, Robin S said:

to be honest, there are many platforms that could be used successfully for this project - in reality the success is more likely to come down to the experience and skill of the developer you hire than the platform used

On 4/5/2018 at 6:02 PM, Robin S said:

So seeing as you won't be building the site yourself, your task is really to evaluate developers rather than evaluate ProcessWire.

Totally agree, an excellent fit with a highly competent developer is critical. That's a big part of why I'm checking out ProcessWire. If we took our specs to an extremely competent dev, and said we'd heard WordPress was a popular platform, the dev would either agree to do it in WordPress (with a quality outcome, for WP, and also all of the WP overhead), or hopefully suggest another, better option. Then we'd be into a whole pile of great frameworks and CMS platforms to consider. I'm trying to get ahead of that by picking the platform first, if possible, a platform that I can use as well, then finding the developer.

On 4/5/2018 at 6:02 PM, Robin S said:

That sounds unusual to me - I haven't heard of people developing one site just to serve as an example for another site they want developed. More typical I think is to use a wireframing tool to show the flow of interactions.

I guess it does sound odd. I'm using WordPress as a step before detailed specs (including a wireframe), because it's so easy to do. WP and two main plugins (Gravity Forms, Advanced Custom Fields) let me create forms with the required functionality, and adequately display the data in the front end, using only the WP admin GUI. I'm writing copy on a wiki (DokuWiki), and using WP like this is no more involved than entering text in the wiki, which is pretty cool - we can get a hands-on feel for the forms and supporting content on an actual web site, and let other people test it, at no significant development cost.

@bernhard Thanks for the forms comments! I'm finding my way around and will soon get to forms and check out RockForms, which looks fantastic (being invited to suggest features is not a bad plus).

Docs are everything, and helpful community forums are a huge part of documentation. This is great!

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