Now that the dust has settled after the release of our new Builder, we’ve started shifting resources to modernizing our live app.
This work has officially begun with the recent release of our updated table design options. You can now control:
- The format, using a clean design for tables by removing borders.
- Optional row striping and hovering.
- The spacing and size of table rows.
And we’re just getting started! Some examples of future updates include:
- The ability to create a default style for links throughout your app.
- More control over the style of your app header, and a new static footer element.
- Updated elements with modern libraries such as our date picker and file uploader.
This messaging is to share our initial plans for this body of work and open the floor for feedback on the approach.
Improving the design and functionality of the live app has been in our plans for a while now. We’ve seen many of you create beautiful design solutions utilizing custom code, and we’ve collected feedback on all of the features and improvements you want to see out of the box. There’s no question that there is ample value in creating a better live app user experience.
We’re grouping these improvements into three main goals:
- Improve the overall look and feel, following modern design and accessibility best practices.
- Expand the options to update the design of the live app without code.
- Add new functionality to the live app, including new views, fields, and more.
While we’re excited to get started on this work, you won’t have to wait for one big release - expect to see faster iterations with new features.
We know how important your apps are to running your businesses, organizations, and communities. This is why any upgrades to our live app design and markup have to be done very carefully. There are a few key reasons for this:
We understand that many of you have users who are very familiar with your apps and may not appreciate any design changes, even if they are obvious improvements.
And these customizations may depend on the actual HTML and CSS that the live apps generate.
Meaning the HTML and CSS will have to change. This could break any customization that relies on that code being exactly how it currently is, and we understand that accommodating these breaking changes could be extremely painful.
All of these considerations are being factored in as we plan for what’s next.
In order to reduce the impact of breaking changes, the following is our current plan for releasing improvements:
We’ll prioritize any upgrade we can make that will not require a breaking change since these will be the least disruptive.
These will likely be style updates that add CSS classes. There will be opportunities for new functionality, like a custom “footer” element, where static information about your app can live.
Certain improvements will be worth making even if they require breaking changes. This would require the right trade-off where the functional improvement is high and the breaking change is very low.
For example, we plan to update the file upload input to allow drag-and-drop. This is a popular request that most users would be eager to have, even if it broke some minor customization.
We would then start a new theme for any upgrades that would require breaking changes.
We want to make some major changes that will require completely different HTML and CSS. Something as simple as upgrading our calendar and report views to leverage modern libraries will require breaking changes. There are countless design improvements that are currently blocked until we can update the code, like using better name-spacing for CSS classes to avoid any conflicts in embedded apps.
Because these changes will be more dramatic, we believe it makes sense to move these to a new theme so each customer can choose if they want to accept these breaking changes or not.
We know the key to successfully implementing these improvements will be excellent communication. With that in mind, here are some of the processes we’re working on to ensure you can best prepare to adapt to any live app releases.
We want to provide a source of truth for upcoming releases, ensuring that you:
- Are given the opportunity to weigh in on features when they are being planned.
- Can subscribe to and be notified about specific topics that are relevant to you and your apps.
- Have ample time to prepare for breaking changes.
- Easily view the history of these product updates, expanding on our release notes which currently comprise mostly of bug fixes.
A big reason for this message is to help you understand our initial plan so we can hear your feedback. Please comment here, sharing any feedback or concerns.
- What is the best way we can support you in understanding and adapting to upcoming changes to the live app?
- What are your concerns related to breaking changes and repairing them in your customized apps?
- Are you excited about modernizing the live app? We sure are!
Lastly, thank you as always, for investing your time and energy into building with Knack. We’re so lucky to have a great community and look forward to working and planning more openly, with your best interests in mind.