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Ins and outs of product development for the eZ Market

Friday 27 April 2012 10:25:37 am

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In the coming weeks I will write blog posts about how we created an extension for the eZ Market that is scheduled to be released end of May 2012 under the name eZ Multitasking One. In my series of blog posts I will explain more about the challenges we faced, including technical limitations and solutions, and the ‘road to launch an eZ Market extension’. I hope to fill a gap in the community regarding the grey area around the eZ Market and steps to be taken to launch a product. This includes very practical issues as generating documentation, thinking of licensing models, development guidelines, etc. 

History of eZ Multitasking One

Since November 2011, we at Contactivity have been actively working on our new extension. Contactivity has been working and serving customers with eZ Publish websites since 2002. After all those years we and our customers felt the urgency to make some changes to the administrative interface of eZ Publish. During the summer of 2011 we decided to form a test-panel and gather information from experienced content-editors about the challenges they suffer while working with eZ Publish on a daily basis.

After collecting a lot of feedback and suggestions from clients and editors, we started to write up technical requirements and a minimum of features we wanted or needed to introduce. We came up with the codename ‘admin3’ as we had no product name yet, and it started out as some sort of next step from the old admin and admin2 designs. We finally explicitly chose not to release the product as ‘admin3’ for a couple of reasons:

  • Our product introduces a lot of extra features that drastically change the way people work with eZ Publish,
  • Our product is not a replacement for all the features that exist in the default admin interface, but a layer on top the administrative interface offering improved functionality specifically for editors. 
  • End-users don’t know the concept or history of ‘admin3’,
  • Our product would be released on the eZ Market for eZ Publish Enterprise editions, and releasing it under ‘admin3’ would cause confusion as it’s likely that the community would create a new admin interface for coming releases of eZ Publish, following the ‘admin’ and ‘admin2’ naming conventions.

 

Our product aims to simplify daily tasks in eZ Publish for editors, such as creating, editing and managing content. The features we have included in our product make an editor’s life much easier, hence the final name “Multitasking”.

Exploration

We know eZ Publish well enough to realize that simple modifications and enhancements could make the backend of eZ Publish already easier and faster for editors and users, but we wanted to go further, exploring the boundaries of eZ Publish and make a product that would be a solution users never want to let go once they use it.

Besides serving experienced eZ Publish users, we wanted to make the interface more intuitive for newcomers too, making the learning curve less steep and giving a nice first impression of the backend without being overwhelmed with data and information.

In my next blog posts I will describe the steps we took to come to a new design, the technical process and how we needed to comply to strict eZ Market standards.

Note on enterprise and community

With the experience we gained in extending the administrative interface over the last year, we  are very willing to contribute to new community initiatives regarding the backend interface. At this point, we know there is an on-going initiative to develop a new user experience for the administrative interface of eZ Publish 5. With the upcoming release of eZ Publish 5 in the near future, we will feed some of eZ Multitasking One’s features back into the eZ Publish 4.x community editions as we plan on developing an eZ Multitasking Two for later releases. Hopefully in the coming weeks more information will be revealed about eZ Publish 5 and how this will affect eZ Publish 4.x users.

From a personal view, I sincerely hope the development of eZ Publish 5 will be more open and out in the public very soon.

I’m looking forward to your feedback and requests as I am more than willing to write up a blog post about a specific area regarding the eZ Market or product development. 

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