Introducing Blueprints 2.0

June 28, 2012

I'm proud to finally release Blueprints 2.0. If you follow me on the Twitters you might have seen me tweeting "Blueprints 2 will be released soon," or some variation of that for the past several months, if not year. To some it might have appeared to be vaporware. Rest assured it is not, and I have learned my lesson about tweeting things too early.

So why did it take so long? Well, I should first give everyone some context. The two main features of Blueprints 2 is the new template carousel selector, and the ability to change Publish Layouts on the fly. I started implementing the carousel in November of 2010. Yes, you read that correctly. Development was a slow drawn out process that was hindered by several ExpressionEngine autosave bugs and getting side tracked with other projects, such as Wyvern Video. I spent many hours debugging and hacking around ExpressionEngine's core to directly fix or accurately report said bugs and submit them to EllisLab. Autosave? Yes, autosave. Blueprints 2 utilizes the autosave behavior to facilitate the "on the fly switching" of Publish Layouts. It does not change the publish field display instantly with JavaScript like the EntryType fieldtype, instead the page will reload within 1-2 seconds with your new Publish Layout and previously entered data intact. I choose to extend native behavior for a couple of reasons:

  • Stability. By using a native feature I can more reliably assume that all major fieldtypes will support it, thus I don't have to do any fancy JavaScript listeners or other hackery.
  • Required Fields. You can set fields to be required and still change the Publish Layouts. Simply expanding and collapsing a field, especially if you have a complicated Publish Layout, is prone to breaking, and the entire point of customizing your Publish Layout is so a content editor only sees the fields they need to see.

I hope new and existing Blueprints users will enjoy the upgrade. The layout switching was by far the most requested feature, and with the recent improvements  in ExpressionEngine's core the publish layouts are even more usable then before, and Blueprints is here to take it to the next level.

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