Feb 02, 2015 | permalink

I’m pleased to announce the imminent alpha release of the BC Pie framework for Business Catalyst. The alpha will begin with a relatively small group of partners, and will grow over the next several months until it is released in beta to the whole community.

BC Pie is an advanced front-end and admin framework for building Business Catalyst websites.

And…it will be open-source (after the alpha stage), and freely available to the BC community.

If you haven’t heard of BC Pie, or perhaps only heard it mentioned, here’s a blog post I wrote one year ago (you’ll see I kind of missed my deadline) where I announced my ambition to build a better Business Catalyst framework:

http://onecreative.pro/blog/bc-pie

The vision

You’ll quickly notice the subtext of the entire BC Pie project is Build better websites. Faster. I’m obsessed with that intent. I have an itching, personal goal to be able to train dev teams toconsistently build high-quality, custom Business Catalyst websites in eight hours. Just one full work day. BC Pie is going to be the answer to that for me…and you.

Now, mind you, this doesn’t include graphic design or content creation, etc.—just the build: css, html, js. But this is still a tall order. Accomplishing my goal is a really big undertaking, and I have yet to achieve it. So for now, it stands as the backbone of every innovation of the BC Pie framework. Eight hours. High quality.

A note on innovation

To solve a problem, you need an adjustment. Not a bandaid. Not a hack or workaround. An adjustment. And an adjustment usually involves a paradigm shift. You have to take a problem and hold it in a new light. You know the old saying?:

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got.”

We can back up a bit and restate it.

“If you keep thinking what you’ve always thought, you’ll keep doing what you’ve always done.”

Not too long ago, it occurred to me that some of Business Catalyst’s best features are the ones we completely neglect (module layouts, for instance). It would be too bad if we focused so much on blazing new trails that we completely forgot about other good paths that simply needed some maintenance.

As such, I’ve taken a hard look at some of the innate opportunities we have built into Business Catalyst that are simply under-loved. You’ll notice that while some of the innovations BC Pie implements are fixes or brand new features, most of the framework is focused on accentuating the positives and turning things that are good into things that are awesome.

Features

Core Files and Folders

Though not a feature, per se, you’ll notice that the folder/file structure is very clean. We’ve wiped out the aging code and layouts, introduced some new core folders and files, and built in the core js and css. The first principle of BC Pie comes right from the Bible (you’re getting some religion today):

“…no man putteth new wine into old bottles” (see Luke 5:36-39 for the whole thing)

We can’t continue to build on a code base that is increasingly ancient. The BC Pie code base is based on modern technologies and best practices.

JavaScript Frameworks

BC Pie comes with Dev-in-a-Box baked in, and soon will have Dev-in-a-Box 3, a completely rewritten version of the jQuery plugin, which will feature easy extensibility (custom-built tricks and features), amazing new features in FormMagic (like way better form validation), and more. Partners will even be able to sell (or give away) Dev-in-a-Box extensions that can be installed with the click of a button from the admin (coming in the beta). BC Pie has a special Dev-in-a-Box license that allows it to be used for free as part of the BC Pie framework. For developers wanting to use it outside of BC Pie, they will still need to purchase a developer’s license from the BC App Store.

Also included is the all-new bcpieSDK. This new SDK builds in many of the api (for admin apps only) and useful front-end code patterns for serious developers.

Cores and Layout Packs (coming partially in alpha, but fully in beta)

The core files of BC Pie are called the…wait for it…core (until I totally replace it with a better name. But for now, core sounded better than crust). The core includes BC Pie-specific js, css, and html, as well as a chosen front-end framework (i.e. Foundation or Bootstrap, etc.)—including its js, css, and a complete set of module layouts. You can choose between different cores, which are identified by the front-end framework they are based on. You can choose, add to, and even update the core from an app in the admin. Updates are obtained via CDN, and installation is automatic, with the appropriate CSS and JS combined and minified. Imagine updating your site to the latest version of BC Pie with the click of a button!

Layout Packs are built and distributed as Core-add-ons. If you pick the Bootstrap core, your choice in layout packs will be limited to that core. Layout packs are great for when a partner wants, for instance, a different ecommerce layout or functionality than comes standard in the core. The layout pack would include the necessary module layouts, along with any Dev-in-a-Box extensions required for its functionality. Layout packs are a quick way of getting the bones of your site put together before you begin serious development.

Themes

Themes are a combination of two files: theme.css and theme.html. The html file contains all the usual components and elements of a site, while the css contains all the rules for those elements. By designing the theme ahead of the build, you will save hours. Themes, like Layout Packs can also be purchased from other partners, and/or exchanged between sites.

There’s more

I just wanted to touch on some of the main features of BC Pie. I could go on and tell you about the built-in development tools, like the Form Cleaner, or a built-in app called Profile that allows your client to maintain their company info in one place. I could go on, but I think you get the point. BC Pie is designed for making high-quality websites. Faster.

There’s a long way to go, but with the help of the community, I think the future of Business Catalyst dev looks sweet.