Client Portal Five RC 2

This week we shipped Client Portal Five RC 2. As the version bumped, we’re closer towards the finish line.

The major change we’ve been working on for Five, is shifting from the legacy meta box UI to the Block editor. We had this idea from 2021 or even earlier. However, I didn’t think the Gutenberg project was ready enough for me to dive in and invest a significant amount of time. So we waited and waited, until in 2023, exactly a year ago, I knew it’s about time.

I tried for a month or two, and then I sort of gave up on creating the custom blocks by myself. It was so frustrating for me, nothing about the Block editor made sense to me.

Outsourcing the groundwork

The I went to WCEU in June in Athens. I met my long-time Codeable fellow expert Belinda and had a great time with her in one of the afternoons. It reminded me that we did contract the work to create two custom blocks for our login and signup form to her and she delivered solid work that time. When I came back from the trip, the first thing was to email her about the whole new backend UI project and see if she’s interested.

I got so lucky that she accepted the project and quickly dived into it. She basically sliced the project into several chunks and consumed them one by one. We had a check-in every two or so weeks with a PR or video chat. I totally relied on her knowledge to make any Block Editor related decisions, and learned a great deal from her.

In the most perfect scenario, the groundwork should be laid down by me. As I’m the lead developer for Client Portal, and I thought that’s the work a lead should do. But that’s really unnecessary if it is not what you’re good at, delegation is always much better than you waste so much time and energy and ended up being resentment about yourself.

I couldn’t attribute enough to Belinda about her contribution to this big overhaul in Client Portal. She’s so good at her profession, while so modesty and pleasant to work with. 110% recommended.

Power of the Block editor

I still think the Block editor is not for all types of WordPress editing experience. For example, typing this post in BE isn’t the best writing experience ever. But throughout the development process for Five, I’m convinced that it is the right experience Client Portal wants to deliver to our customers.

I’ve always thought CP has a very unique target market among the WordPress products. Our customers usually are not tech savvy in coding or design. They really need a better no-code solution to build their portals.

What we offered before, the legacy meta box UI, was like a form, you fill in things here and there, and then you click a button to go to another page, to check what it will eventually look like.

For us developers, it’s like “what’s wrong with that”. I’ve been thinking that way and even convinced myself that’s the cleaner, the “right way”.

Except it is really not. Once I saw what Belinda built for the very alpha version of it, I knew we couldn’t go back. It’s so unfair to our customers to “fill out the form” every time they’re trying to create a portal. That was also the first time I’m convinced the Block editor is something we should invest more time in.

When will Five be ready?

I currently set the plan to release another RC every two weeks. So in late March, there will be RC 3, which should make the product very, very close to the final release.

It is really a big change, so we also hope more customers can download the RCs from their account page and test it on a staging site. But as I said, our customers are not very tech-savvy so there aren’t many to jump and test yet. But good thing is, they all like it!

I’m really looking forward to finally releasing it in a few weeks from now.

One response

  1. […] written about how Belinda helped us to smooth out the curve and take care of the most heavy part of the JavaScript development work. […]

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