How the internal team gets started
Posted: May 11, 2015 17:00 by rkoloski
Topics: CompassAE, introduction
Starting up a new CompassAE instance is pretty exciting because you start off with so much capability right out of the box.
Most people start out by making a website with CMS, then creating apps, modules and forms using the app composer and inserting them into websites.
The default web site has a nice set of default pages and the CMS allows you to start entering your own content right off the bat. That’s the “instant gratification” that lots of us like, and it’s a nice introduction as well.
Personally, I love the ability to create “throw away” environments to try out ideas. You can clone your CompassAE repo to a local environment and generate new apps to your heart’s content using:
compass_ae new [my_new_project]
Running this generator gives you a full stack RoR application environment but you don’t need to be a RoR developer to start having fun with the Web Site Builder and the Application Composer from that environment. This is a really friendly environment if you’re not a hard-core developer but want to create some really useful functionality. CompassAE ships with a full set of Business Modules that are essentially re-usable components that can be assembled in many ways to create applications. One really cool feature is the ability to customize the default Business Module forms using field-level drag and drop in the Application Composer. Infinite extendibility!
Prototyping functional websites with CMS Widgets
Each team member as you might imagine has their own individual tricks, but I like to prototype with CMS widgets. CMS widgets are like a mini-rails stack with a view and controller where the controller has access to the full set of Models available with core CompassAE. If you’ve got access to the development stack (we do), you can generate a CMS widget and use widget themes as a UI prototyping tool. And the widget controller, provides access to the underlying business framework….and you can do this with a really simple tool chain. All you need is a text editor for the widget controller and the CMS editors themselves to edit the UI templates. If you like what you’ve built, you just put the UIs back into the source tree and check them in and voila! It’s a published and shareable component.
Prototyping office apps with Organizer Views
What you can do with the app composer and office apps is another cool rapid development flow. Because CompassAE’s office apps container (We call it the “Organizer View”.) dynamically assembles its menu system, tabs structures and UIs, you can basically paint an app’s basic list, detail and forms views right in the app composer.
In some ways this is similar to what you might have done with various data-bound UI controls frameworks (Powerbuilder, SQLWindows, VB, WaveMaker), with the exception that the underlying data models for the most part already exist. Of course you can extend and add to them, but much of the plumbing is already there.
For people who want to be developers and who’ve not touched Ruby or Rails, we always start people with a ruby tutorial and The Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl. This is probably the best tutorial around on any subject. Really! It works the prospective RoR developer through the creation of a Rails application from start to finish. One of our newer developers was able to be productive in short order after working through this tutorial.
We’re working hard everyday to make CompassAE better and easier to use. We’d love to hear you comments and suggestions.