After reading this article you’ll know the following:
What changes are available in the next-gen environment
New updates in the main builder sections
Improved block sharing and reusability
Other changes and deprecations
With the implementation of the next-gen environment, we now have a lot of improvements and updates to the platform. Mostly these changes touched such builder sections as page builder and actions - they obtained completely new interfaces and improved functionality.
Besides that, we introduced new exciting features to the block store making it more open to sharing and reusability of components, action steps, themes, etc. Some minor but significant changes have been made in the data model and tools section. In this article, we are going to compare these updated next-generation features to the classic ones.
UI builder vs page builder
Let’s start our journey by comparing two generations of Betty Blocks environments from the front end and reviewing some features.
Creating and configuring pages
Some of you who have been using the platform for a while may have seen this old version of the UI builder. This is an example of creating a new page in the classic environment:
As you can see, the page is created in three steps: layout, content, and paths, and these steps only concern the front-end UI part.
In the next-gen page builder, you also have to go through several steps, but besides choosing a template, page’s name, and path, you can also set the authentication profile (or leave it to be public), select partials for the header and footer, and even connect your page to your data model! Definitely saves you a lot of time if you have some of these prepared beforehand.
Besides saving time with brand-new UX, you’ll be able to notice how fast the page builder is in terms of processing changes or compiling pages.
Important! Find out the basic steps for creating your pages, various kinds of components, and configuring their options in our next-gen pages documentation.
Component options and interactions
There are also some significant changes in component options. Take data tables from both environments as a comparison. This is how it looked in classic view: you could choose some properties like grid and row configurations.
Now compare these to data table options from the next-generation application. Firstly, there are Reconfigure options that allow you to make changes to existing components by adding columns or changing list items. Also, here you can apply filtering to a selected data model within this component as well as many more options like styling, spacing, etc. Explore the next-gen pages in this section of the documentation.
With next-generation applications, it’s now possible to easily add interactions to most page components. The variety of functions you can add to your page is huge, there are more than 30 of them including filters, hide/show, refetch, reset, redirect, and many others. More about interactions here.
Brand new actions
While the next-gen page builder may seem a much-improved version of a classic one, it’s not the case with the new action builder as it has become a completely new feature created from the scratch. The goal of next-generation actions is to ensure stability and performance, while also improving speed and ease of use compared to the previous generation.
New UI and improved usability
The first thing you notice as you open the new actions is that now the interface is much more intuitive and optimized as it has easy-to-use drag-and-drop functionality similar to the page builder.
Our component set has a new set of form components that connect to the new actions system: you create an action along with ‘create’ or ‘update’ forms in the page builder. For example, in the example below see how easily a simple ‘create record’ form is added to a page and configured.
New actions also open possibilities for reusing custom action steps. These can be added to the block store by low-coders to be later reused by business technologies who can simply install them to application environments and apply them for multiple action flows. More about that in the next section.
Block store and reusability
Betty’s block store is the ultimate storage of block components one can install to the application in order to extend its functionality. While in the classic environment, it was primarily used for working with web services, in the next generation it can be employed to share and reuse page components, data sources, action steps (functions), and themes. In addition, it’s also possible to reuse whole pages in those cases when someone needs a page with identical functionality implemented in the new application.
One of the product vision pillars is flexibility, and not being restricted by the platform in what you’re able to make, we see the block store as a natural continuation for the action and page builders, as well as the data model and theme builder which gives a lot of freedom and flexibility for experimentation and eventually getting the desired result.
Other changes and updates
Next-gen is a combination of new platform features and the deprecation of existing ones that we no longer consider to be useful and either got eliminated or just presented in a different, more convenient form.
Back office: template vs separate section
The transition to next-gen also touched the way users interact with data records. Our next-gen cloud setup requires us to split the design and the running of the applications in different clouds. The classic back office was not built this way, so we need to offer a new way to achieve the same. So instead of the whole back office section in the classic Betty, there’s a Back office page template that replaces it in the next-gen environment.
This template solution has the same essential data managing functionality: you can create tables for models made within the data model section. Create, update, view, and delete records from your application in a convenient view with a slide-out panel.
Use of expressions
In our classic setup, a data model has the option to use expression properties. This was a very flexible system, which didn’t require any thinking by the developer. The downside was that we experienced a whole lot of platform instability due to it. So in the next-gen, the data model’s expressions are replaced by the expression action step.
New authentication profile
From other updates, it's worth mentioning the new Betty Blocks authentication option - the easiest authentication profile option to choose from which enables you to authenticate your application end users via their Betty Blocks platform account. As you create a new page in the page builder section, choose the option with this type of authentication.
The use of this authentication profile makes sure the live version of an application is accessed by people with a valid Betty Blocks account (with provided access to the application, of course!).
For sure, it would take too long to cover all changes implemented in next-gen Betty in an article like this, but overall we feel like all of these provide more support and improved functionality for both business technologists and low-coders. Some options and functions were deprecated and removed from the platform for the sake of better performance and productivity. The platform is as faster as ever, with fewer dependencies and lots of freedom to create.
Lastly, for those who are curious about checking more fresh updates to the platform in detail, we’d recommend keeping an eye on product changes or signing up for webinars and future updates. Good luck, explorers!