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Fieldtype Page Table Grid – Page Builder Preview

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Fieldtype Page Table Grid

This is a sneak preview of a side project I've been working on for quite some time now. A lot of work and thought has gone into this, so I will most likely release this as a commercial module at some point in the near future. 

As a designer (and developer) I get the appeal of a WYSIWYG editor. After playing around with some WYSIWYG page builder tools, I always felt something was wrong about them. So I decided to build my own PW version based on PageTable.

Here is a small demo (using AdminThemeCanvas, but its working with other admin themes as well) :

There is also a complete website that I built for a friend of mine using this module and some custom blocks.

Concept

This fieldtype shares a lot of features with PageTableExtended: it's also an extension of PageTable and renders the block templates in the backend and frontend (native PW templates and fields). You can also add your own css via module settings.

The difference is, this fieldtype also gives you the ability to rearrange and resize elements in a visual way as well as enable inline editing for text, ckeditor and file fields. Similar (and promising) attempts have been made, but I wanted something based on native CSS grid instead of a CSS framework...so I built my own version. Most CSS frameworks are based on flexbox, which is great for layouting elements horizontally. With CSS grid, you can place elements horizontally and vertically, allowing for layouts that were not previously possible with CSS. Similar to webflow, this fieldtype uses javascript (in the backend) to let you manipulate CSS grid in a visual way to design fully responsive websites (or parts of them). It should still be possible to include a CSS framework if you like (just add the classes to your block markup and include the CSS via module settings).

The CSS grid layout manipulations are saved in a single field as a JSON array and used to generate a dynamic stylesheet that you simply include in your main template (no inline styles). The styles are saved within the breakpoint you select and cascade down to smaller breakpoints. That means you can specify just the basic breakpoint and adjust other breakpoints if needed. The exception is the mobile breakpoint which will display everything in one column as a default (you can change the layout here too).

The fieldtype also comes with an optional style panel to manipulate some additional CSS properties directly on the page. You can customize the panel or disable it completely from the module settings (and just use a CSS file that you include via module settings). The style panel is based on inputfields (nothing is saved to the database). This means that you just have to install the module and all fields are available to all blocks automatically (this can be customized). It also has the benefit that your installation is not flooded with fields; this module only installs one field.

Don't want to give your customer all that power? Design features can be disabled for certain roles. The grid editor role can just edit the content and use the inline editing feature to edit content quickly. You can then also grant access individually to the style panel, resize or drag functionality.

Features

  • Blocks are just pages
  • Blocks are defined by native PW templates and fields
  • Manipulate CSS grid in a visual way to design fully responsive websites (or parts of them)
  • Design features can be disabled for certain roles
  • Inline editing of text, ckeditor and file fields
  • The layout is 100% CSS grid (very small css file size)
  • Simply drag and resize to manipulate grid items directly inside the backend
  • Manipulate grid columns and rows directly on the page (use any number of columns you want)
  • All style manipulations are saved as JSON and used to generate a dynamic stylesheet that you just include in your main template (no inline styles)
  • Nested groups/grids (child pages of nested blocks are created under group parent)
  • Global blocks work with page reference field (changes on one page, changes all blocks on all pages)
  • Manual and auto placement of grid items
  • Define custom icons for your blocks via native template settings (template -> advanced -> icon)
  • Option to load lazysizes in the backend to enable lazy loading of assets with class lazyload
  • Works with all default and ui-kit based admin themes

If you have any questions or feedback, let me know.

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This is impressive and fulfills a lot of requirements I am looking for this type of page builder. I particularly like the use of blocks as pages (maintaining the PW flexibility to reference these blocks from other pages), that styles are saved separately in JSON and a stylesheet in generated for each page (which you can check in the source code of your example), and above all the use of CSS grids that allow much more complex and visually interesting layouts. I wouldn't let my clients touch this kind of interface unless they're design-savvy, so I'm glad that design features can be disabled for certain roles. Congrats!

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@jploch, could you explain what each icon in the sidebar does? You demonstrate a headline, a video and some images in your video, but what else is available?

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57 minutes ago, jacmaes said:

@jploch, could you explain what each icon in the sidebar does? You demonstrate a headline, a video and some images in your video, but what else is available?

There are a couple of blocks that I did not show. I can add another video to showcase those, when I find some time. In the meantime you can check out https://www.michael-philipp-bader.com/ to see them in the frontend. The home page (overview) for example features a gallery block that opens an image or video in a light box. On the contact page you can see a map block that uses the Leaflet Map Marker module. On the portfolio page there s a page reference block that loads all the selected pages/projects. 

I just want to be clear that it's up to the developer to create as many blocks as they like. Blocks can have all the fields that are available in PW. You just create a template and assign fields (like you normally do) and add that template to this fieldtype. Then you create a file with the name of that template in your template folder (or subfolder if you use the delegate template approach feature of this module) with the markup that gets rendered. You can also add a special class to elements you want to make draggable/resizable. More instructions on how to use this, with code examples will follow, once it's ready.

 

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I just added some new features.
– All blocks can be cloned now.  Which makes adding content very fast
– More options to control access of blocks individually. You can lock editing of blocks completely or disable features such as cloning, styling or content editing for certain roles

I was also thinking about the best approach to copy blocks between PW installations or to share them with others. The easiest way I found was to export/import a page, with all the blocks you want added, using adrians migrator module. The export code together with the block template files could be shared with others or imported into existing installations. So this would be an option until we hopefully have something in the core to make migrations work better. An alternative would be to store everything as JSON (including the content) and using something similar to the Mystique Module to let the developer add fields based on config files. That also has the benefit of being able to have the files version controlled. The downside of using the JSON only approach would be inferior searchability of fields. Also making it work with every fieldtype would be a challenge. I'm interested how others feel about this.

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16 hours ago, jploch said:

I was also thinking about the best approach to copy blocks between PW installations or to share them with others.

Have you had a look at RockMigrations? You get the best of both your worlds: Easy migrations + version control...

 

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21 minutes ago, bernhard said:

Have you had a look at RockMigrations? You get the best of both your worlds: Easy migrations + version control...

I saw this a while ago, but just had a brief look at it. I will play around with this some more, but this might be even too complicated for my needs. The target group for my module are not only web developers, but also non technical people like designers, experienced editors, or marketers. I need a way for these people to import new blocks as well. 

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I know it feels complicated in the beginning. I've been there 4 years ago when Lostkobrakai was talking about that mystical thing called Migrations. I've put a lot of effort into my module to make simple things simple without the technical overhead of needing custom classes for each migration like in the other module (that has other benefits of course).

https://processwire.com/talk/topic/21212-rockmigrations-easy-migrations-from-devstaging-to-live-server/?do=findComment&comment=208165

$rm->migrate([
  'fields' => [
    'foo' => [
      'type' => 'text',
      'label' => 'My foo field',
    ],
    'bar' => [
      'type' => 'text',
      'label' => 'My bar field',
    ],
  ],
  'templates' => [
    'mybuilderblock' => [
      'tags' => 'MyBuilder',
      'fields' => ['title', 'foo', 'bar'],
    ],
  ],
]);

It really can't get simpler than that! And I think that is something that can be done by anybody - even non-coders. TracyDebugger does even have a "field code" panel where you get those code snippets. So you can create fields and copy the code over. Once familiar with the field properties (they are always the same) you get a LOT more efficient with code setup. Add a new field? copy the 3 lines of "bar", rename the field, done. Make those 3 fields have all 33% width? Use multicursor in your IDE and all fields are 33%.

Compare that to field import/export or other setups... Edit field 1, set field width, save. Edit field 2, set field width, save. Edit field 3, set field width, save. Don't like the result? Edit field 1........... you get it 😉 

okYjsWz.gif

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@bernhard Thanks for your examples. It does look simple to create a migration. It would be nice if a non technical person could then easily paste that code into the backend, click a button and everything is imported. Is that possible with your module? I don't want that person to open an editor, that person might not even have access to FTP. With  adrians migrator module it's possible to import the code/JSON in the backend and create all the pages, templates and fields in one import. I'm not saying that this is somehow better than how your module works, it just might be better suited for my usecase. Your module clearly has a lot of benefits compared to migrator.

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