Reinventing ZOOlanders

Miljan
25 Jan, 2018

Six months ago was our last post, and before that our release schedule was far from optimal. We know that is not the way to lead a project and long before that we were already asking ourselves what went wrong, and what can we do to get back on track.

ZOOlanders has brought value to us and our clients and we would love to see that for many more years. The core issue we are facing is being driven by an outdated workflow. Our products, development, process, dependencies, almost all are stuck in the past. It is our fault, we didn’t know when and how to pivot, but that’s life, sometimes you must hit a wall to wake up. And I can tell you we are very much awake and get ready because ZOOlanders is reinventing itself and this is how we are gonna approach the process.

Build less dependent products

Relying on the success of a 3rd party product, ZOO in our case, is a good way to start, but not a way to grow. We need to build solutions that rely the very minimum on it and be ready to take the lead at any moment. This is where our very own frameworks come into place. But don’t get it wrong, we are not reinventing the wheel, both the back and the frontend framework rely on and extend with best practices other Open Source projects as its base.

Prioritize quality and scalability

There is no point on releasing features too early risking them to be buggy, with poor usability and unable to scale. It is much wiser to be patient, plan ahead, build a system with tests, dev workflow and production builds in place. Yes, all that seems a must but remember we are a small team, and achieving that it’s a huge challenge by itself.

Engage with the community

We were always giving priority to development, but that leads us to forget that a company is much more than its products. We are gonna change that, expose our selfs more and encourage you to engage with us. This very blog is a good start where we speak as individuals, so far only me, but I am confident Daniele will eventually come out to play!

Refactor our build process

One of the pains we have is releasing new versions because part of it is done manually. We are already in the process of a total refactoring and I am personally committed to making releasing fun again!


There are many more changes and we are gonna talk about it all in the near future. But we know that now what is most important for you is ZOOadmin state. So here we go!

ZOOadmin

It has been a true adventure. Really, we weren’t aware of how much work a project like this would require, or maybe we were and just kept pushing forward because we believe in it. It’s not about PHP and JavaScript anymore, now a project like ZOOadmin involves:

  • An API definition with it schemas, testing server and data demo.
  • A UI based on Vue, Vuikit, Vuex, VueRouter and of course UIkit.
  • A PHP integration expanding the main framework.
  • A source project that would hold them all in one place. We chose Yarn Workspaces.
  • A development workflow that involves Nodejs, Docker and all the required dependencies.
  • A build system that will package all that together in a way that makes sense for Joomla!

It took a long time to get all these things together in a way to suit the project requirements. And without even counting the framework’s development!

Anyway, a new Alpha release is ready. Yay!

From a user perspective, it could look like a humble beginning as currently there are not so many features. From a development perspective though, the possibilities are huge. But we took the effort to deliver something useful right now, Items bulk actions. It supports the basic ones plus Categorizing. Yes, you can choose the Items and Assign/Deassign them from a bulk of chosen categories. Nice.

Without further, take it for a ride, and let us know your thoughts. We are going to be right here, working on the next release.

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