Which direction do we want Blocs to go?


#1

This is just a general question aimed to create some debate about the direction of Blocs as a design app. It’s clear that some of us want more features, yet I know many want to retain a clean interface, which creates a bit of a design paradox.

The question therefore is which direction as users do we want to see Blocs going in terms of functionality? Should it be a modern day iWeb focussed largely on simplicity or something much more capable? I vote for features, so that users can grow and stick with Blocs, however I imagine everybody has a sweet spot in terms of what they would like to see.

One thought I had was that Blocs could offer user selectable interface options, rather like you see in some other applications, so beginners can start with a stripped down feature list with the option to access a more advanced interface later on.

The challenge moving forward will be balancing features against ease of use and speed, so I thought this would be a good place to have a broad discussion.


#2

I like the path that Blocs is currently taking. It strikes the right balance between the novice or new users to the plain lazy users right up to those who want full functionality and always chase the latest thing.

That balance is a really hard one to get right but Blocs gets it right I think. The current system allows the development of snippets of code to add in and I expect this will happen naturally and there will be open discussion of how to achieve stuff.

I would support extra add-on Blocs & Brics packs that extend the functionality and cover the cool stuff. It they are added into the main product I would have to stand up and complain that the price is too low.

Long term, I would like to see Blocs migrate to Bootstrap4 (more breakpoints and Rem based), add inline fonts and add more Media Query logic to the visibility functions and allow users (maybe 3rd parties) to create their own Blocs all created with a clear Blocs building best practice guide.

Many lessons of what not to do is to watch RW and not make those mistakes by becoming distracted by Apps and other products that compete with your own main product.

So far with my short exposure to Blocs I have a good feeling about the way it is going.


#3

…mmm…
The simple UI is one of the initial attractions, but I soon exhausted the options, like most of us.
I enjoy learning the complexities, and with the backup of support and forum, I’m getting there butter than I did with Freeway, etc.
I would rather be drip fed stable updates (and use beta tests) than go through a buggy release.
Remember the early days of 2.0?
I trust @norm and whoever is working under the hood to add useful features when they are ready, but I guess a switchable UI (basic or advanced) could cover both camps.
I personally feel if an end user (such as myself) wants a wysiwyg UI, they would go to server based site builders, Mobirise or others with limitations but simplicity.
I are the current balance Blocs strikes, and I feel I get time to learn each added option as the come through.
Still on the steep bit with custom classes though; the more I look the more it seems to be able to do.
As Ian Dury (& the Blocheads) said, “there ain’t 'arf been some clever *******s”.
Andy


#4

Mentioning iWeb was not a good comparison, since Blocs is clearly ahead of that already in terms of options, but iWeb was very good for the intuitive Apple interface and style.

@webdeersign is absolutely right that we should look at Rapidweaver and read the warnings, since there do not appear to be any common interface or performance standards between different plugins. Rapidweaver is very beholden to Stacks, yet Realmac seem to have very little control over the way it works and the speed of page previews is very last century compared to Blocs.

Above all an emphasis on quality control is important so that new versions are thoroughly tested and shipped with as few bugs as possible. Softpress were pretty good in this regard with Freeway, so I never had any great fear of updating to the next version.


#5

totally agree


#6

I think Blocs is heading in the right direction already. I’ve been with the program from day one and it has evolved greatly. Blocs is suppose to be a program to design websites that need no or very little coding.

In the beginning there were hardly no options to get under the hood and use classes that we currently have. @Norm has listened, and came though with so many advances for all it’s users.

I tried some of the other offerings and I stuck with Blocs as it just works. How many programs let users try all these beta versions with new features? Normally you just get a updated version and you take the good with the bad.

I think we should put a little faith in @norm, let him finish this update, get the docs updated and work on learning all of the new features.

I’m not in any way trying to criticize any of the users replying as we all have our own wish list. It’s human nature, we all use programs and after a while we think “if it could just do this”.

In the big picture Blocs is still relatively new and it does what its advertised.

Casey


#7

@casey1823 It’s just a broad question of how to balance the interface with new features and how far we want those features to go. Nobody is criticising Norm or Blocs.

There is a similar discussion that is focussed on the Bric display Bric display


Flexbox
#8

Which direction do WE want Blocs to go?

@Norm is gonna dictate what Blocs is and becomes, in the end it’s his app / creation.

He will of course listen to suggestions and advice from users on features and choose to institute those as he sees fit or is able to. However, he seems to have his roadmap and vision for the app in place as far as what he wants it to be and seems firm on sticking to it. Not to say that their won’t be major changes and advancements along the way within the app, but all will come within the confines of his vision for the project and his timeframe. I am sure he will also have his own epiphany eureka moments along the way as well that will help persuade him to alter course a bit at times.

So yeah because of this, at times as users it may get rather frustrating and we may become overly impatient as users wanting more or different things in and of the app. You may even get completely ignored all together at times with your suggestions and advice. But it’s his app, his time, his vision, his livelihood, so it is what it is.

Thus perhaps, “Suggested Features” would have been more applicable discussion, instead of trying to impose ones will on what the overall Blocs app should or shouldn’t be as an app.

Norm is doing a nice job with Blocs as a solo developer though. However he could probably use or welcome some help to ease his load or help in certain areas. That in turn would also help the app advance, along with the community overall as well. But that’s also up to him.

:wink:

Blocs_User


#9

Nobody is trying to impose their will. That’s a pretty absurd suggestion. It is in everybody’s interest for Blocs to succeed.


#10

It was a “figure of speech”, please don’t take it otherwise. My post was regarding all of us and was not directed at individuals. It was given to be received as a broad perspective. Sorry, I find no absurdity in that.


#11

…and our money!


#12

Yes. And it’s well earned.


#13

You think so?


#14

no comment
Final.


#15

@horman, I find it interesting that your first two posts on the forum seem to be negative or despondent. Would you like to express your issues / thoughts with more than the 6 words you have chosen thus far?


#16

…and our money!

Something wrong with it? Yes, he is working for money, our money.

Yes. And it’s well earned.
You think so?

Just a questions, 80 bucks for this tool is not really cheap, is it?

btw.: In this new forum my first two posts, that’s right. But before I had some more posts with constructive suggestions and critical opinions. But it seems critical opinions are not liked in this forum.


#17

When I wrote my comment above I never imagined it would garner these types of responses. For that I am sorry, however I feel if people try to understand the context, then it does in fact make sense. :wink:

I don’t think there is anything wrong with constructive suggestions, or critical opinions (I have made my fair share as well). I was just curious what your thoughts were, 6 words across 2 posts could be interpreted in various ways. I assume maybe you feel some features are missing (from looking at your old posts) and are perhaps frustrated maybe?


#18

There is an enormous hole in the world of pro level WYSIWYG sete design apps. Freeway filled the bill for years but they fell behind the times and their responsive solution was a headache. The WYSIWYG apps left standing have their strengths but they do not have as wide a set of pro features, hence the hole.

I need a full-blown WYSIWYG app that can handle just about everything - layers, custom placement of whatever, whenever, and basically everything a large manufacturer needs for a high-quality consumer site plus the design of retail sites across the country. This is an urgent concern…

Having spent many years in the Chicago loop, I tend to be direct, so I don’t mean to step on any toes, but I do wonder at how long it will take for a clear winner to emerge. It might as well be Blocs, but for that to happen there would need to be a crowd-funding effort that would pay for staff to accelerate development. While I like blocs, it is not something that works in my situation. At the other end of the spectrum is Pinegrow, which is playing in the same space as Blocs, but includes direct code editing and, on the downside, has a user interface that is very left-brained and cluttered.

I would like to see Blocs meet Pinegrow halfway - powerful but intuitive. This can definitely be done, but not if it takes three or four more years to get there. People in my situation need a solution as soon as possible. With the economy I cannot hire a web person to handle everything and we need to do it in-house, and people like me have to wear too many hats and can’t take a month to become proficient with a code-centric approach.

If the above suggestion seems feasible, I could consult on the prospectus and presentation. If Norm could put together several hundred thousand via Kickstarter or elsewhere, beef up the dev team and accelerate development, that would be amazing.


#19

Hi @TYancy,

Interesting.

I would however not consider them to be in the same space at all. Pinegrow is quite limitless in its abilities, concerning the ability to work with any framework, native sources etc., Blocs is built solely on BootStrap and not nearly the full implementation of it either to name just one hindrance. Blocs has it’s own file format while Pinegrow works from all raw source files. I would agree Pinegrow’s UI is in need of an update and rethinking, which is 100% coming in v3.

I would agree there is an apparent gap which exists and is ripe for picking / filling. :wink:

As for Blocs and staff, I guess crowd funding is an option but that would be rather interesting at this point. I would agree however another Cocoa Developer / Web Developer could help the app and @norm tremendously -vs- him continuing to fly solo even as great as he has done thus far doing it. The guy is no doubt spread pretty thin. It may also be hard for Norm to relinquish full control of the project, that can be a challenge in itself when adding staff. But yes many areas even beyond the app could be addressed and improved to help the user, beyond the advancement of the app itself.


#20

Lots of good points and I too would like to see a product exist that meets halfway between Blocs and Pinegrow, but such a product would surely be the holy grail of web apps.

As the 2 products cater for different ends of the market and skill set spectrum, it is unlikely such a product could exist technically and sustainably.

I would like to think that Blocs could learn from Pinegrow and adopt some of their ideas. Certainly Pingrow could benefit from the clarity and layout of the UI from Blocs.

One other option is to use both apps. So use Blocs for the initial design and creation and then modify using Pinegrow (within the Bootstrap mode even if they currently use different versions).

Long term, a crowd funding way forward may not be the best way for customers, as look what happened to Macaw after their crowd funding and then buy out by Invision. No doubt Blocs is on several radars and when you look at the membership of Wix, you realise that a competitor buyout would be a drop in the ocean for them.

I expect Norm needs to feed himself and buy shoes yet “we” also don’t want to pay enough for our ultimate solution tools. That is the real dilemma.

On a side note I think the Pinegrow pricing model is a pretty good one and one that looks more sustainable than a conventional upgrade model yet is acceptable to most users.

Note to Norm. Pease keep doing what you are doing, at the same rate you are doing it and with your continued strong focus. You deserve a good Christmas break and thanks for a great product.