Introducing the new builder

10/04/2016 Posted by Brandon

A new version of our Knack builder has been live for a few weeks now and we couldn’t be more excited!

We’ve learned a ton during the 2 years since our last release, and we’ve applied that learning to further optimize and simplify the process of building data-driven web applications.

We put together a new intro video to walk through it (we also dramatically improved our video skills).

Now that the dust has settled we wanted to provide some insight into the goals of this new builder and what changes those led to.

Improved design

Overall we wanted the design to feel lighter and more open.

Fundamentally the user experience is very similar, but we’ve made hundreds of incremental design improvements to almost every area. Colors were tweaked, complex interfaces were given more room to breathe, and extraneous navigation bars were combined or removed.

Simplicity and clarity

As with every iteration, we’ve tried to simplify as much as possible.

We introduced toolbars to show more of the options available to build objects and pages. We focused all the record actions into a single toolbar to prevent confusion. Most forms have been simplified by replacing dropdowns with radio buttons or checkboxes.

We also tried to clarify how we name things. We removed the “Interface” grouping entirely, and truncated “Database” to just “Data”. We’re referring to the application you build strictly as the “live application”.

Easier to use

A constant focus is how we can make it easier for everyone to do useful things with their data.

This iteration includes a preview mode for your pages, so you can see what your views actually look like with real data as you build and edit them. It’s easier to navigate child pages with orange arrows. When you hover those the actual page highlights in the left menu.

We also added more natural language, so when you’re adding a new view you get clear descriptions of which records and connections you’re working with, rather than guessing from a tree list.

For more complex apps we made pages easier to navigate by enabling filters by user role.

New features

We baked in a ton of new features that have been in demand for a while, including and/or filters, read-only form inputs, and image galleries.

View a complete list of the new features (and upgrades).

What’s next?

The most exciting part is that this is just the start.

Much like our infrastructure project, this builder upgrade establishes the foundation for our next phase of growth and expansion. Its completion also means we can get back to our faster release cycle for improvements and new features.

We’ve already begun working on our 3rd (and final) major upgrade of 2016, which we’ll be revealing soon!