One of our favorite website-building tools is a content management system called Craft CMS. Craft is a world-class platform for developing websites, and it is especially useful when a project has unique needs for custom features with a heavy reliance on interactions between different types of content. The folks who make Craft recently released “Craft 3”, which brought a litany of enhancements to the software. The biggest improvement was the complete refactoring of the code base, which produced a 3x increase in memory and database performance. Now that the groundwork has been laid for years of future development, we wanted to tell you about some of the most exciting things in the pipeline for this great tool.
The Road Ahead
When Craft 3 went into release candidate, the Craft team moved the code, user requests and bug reports onto Github. If you are like us you always want to know what’s next, but unfortunately there are no Craft rumor blogs. Thankfully, requests and code changes are now on a public repo and you can see a general roadmap for future features and enhancements. But Craft users who don’t know where to look may have missed some of these critical and much-needed improvements that could make their way into a 3.x release.
Disclaimer: While I am relatively certain these features are planned for a future 3.X release, based on statements on the official Craft blog and previous Github activity, we do not know that for sure. We do not make Craft or any of its components and anything/everything is subject to the Craft teams final approval and sole discretion. This reality is all the more reason to vote up any of these features if you think they would be helpful for your website development workflow. Thanks!
1 : Conditional Fields
We use WordPress a lot and when you get used to the power of conditional fields in utilities like Advanced Custom Fields and Gravity Forms, you want that type of ability everywhere. It looks like we will finally get this kind of functionality built into core with a future Craft 3 update. This is the most exciting feature to us because many developers have told us that they will support conditional fields in their plug-ins when it is a core feature of the CMS. This new flexibility will be apparent in 3rd party utilities like form builders and will be well worth the wait.
2 : Publication Approval Workflow
If you look at who requested this feature you might understand why this is our second most anticipated feature for Craft 3.x If you have ever edited content on a team you will immediately understand the importance of this feature. Being able to delegate editing responsibilities while still maintaining publishing control is a necessary limitation when your team may represent the views of a whole organization.
3 : Entry Lock
This update is similar to our second most anticipated feature. If you have ever been editing an entry in Craft (or any CMS that doesn’t support this), you know the pain of accidentally overriding another users work. In Craft currently, entry revisions might save the lost work and you could potentially manually merge the edits, but these steps are tedious and unnecessary when the CMS takes care of it for you. This brings us to features 4 and 5:
4/5 : Autosave & Diffs
IF you do happen to overwrite another users data or you are an editor who is in charge of publishing (see #2 on our list) you may want to see what has changed between two different versions of an entry. When this feature gets added to Craft 3, you will finally be able to! Right next to this feature is the ability to have Craft autosave what you are currently working on in a preset interval. Autosave will be a lifesaver for clients and developers alike. Our computers have been doing this for years, and it’s time our CMS did as well. All of these AX (author experience) additions will make Craft more resilient to client frustrations.
6 : Undelete (Recycle Bin)
We’re going to keep it rolling with even more AX improvements in Craft 3: Undelete. If you trash something, you should be able to have a second chance before it gets erased for good.
7 : Batch Edit
This one has come up for us more times than we would expect. It is especially important when you are setting up a massive project with existing content or when you have to make architectural changes partway through a build. With this feature, you will be able to cherry-pick several (or more) entries and edit something like a category field in one click.
8 : Duplicate Matrix Block
Duplicating matrix blocks is right up there with batch editing. When you have spent a lot of time crafting the perfect layout using a Matrix block, you want to be able to use it as a template on other sections or pages. Hopefully with this feature that will finally be possible without duplicating the entire entry. For those that have used Neo you know precisely how much this improves workflow. bonus points if Craft copies Neo’s ability to copy and paste blocks across different entries.
9 : Field Level Permissions
Have you ever wanted to restrict specific content from being changed by users in a group that are meant to have less than full permissions? In Craft 2/3 thus far you can only stop them from editing the entire entry. With this critical feature request, you would be able to restrict access to only some parts of an entry and not others. This small change will infinitely increase the versatility and creativity development teams can bring to entries and the content groups that edit them.
10 : Smart Sources
The power and flexibility of the backend will explode if the implementation of this feature is as robust as it can be. Not only would you be able to offer your clients pre-sorted entries based on criteria picked by you ahead of time, but you could also limit which entries or types of content are presented in the entry selection modal. This enhancement would cement Craft as a leader in data management and relationships. It also brings so much of the flexibility we can offer clients on the front-end to the developer on the back-end.
11 : Matrix Tabs / Field Widths
The matrix field gives the user amazing power and flexibility, but unfortunately the way it is currently designed makes for an AX/UX that is a gray mash that can extend forever down the page. Luckily this can be fixed, and it’s on the roadmap. With this feature, Craft would get the ability to put fields side by side and also bury some block level settings inside of a tabbed interface.
BONUS : Content Staging
This feature sounds almost too good to be true, so we saved it for last. If Craft could pull this off, it would be a huge sea change in content management. Imagine being able to define a version of a site and then publishing multiple new and changed entries targeting that version. Then you could send a client a link to that version before it is online and then publish it all at once. Content staging would be an enormous selling point which is a win for us and Craft’s sales.
This list is in order based on our excitement about the features. The beautiful thing about a diverse community is every need varies – our #5 could be your #1.
Which of these (click to see the entire list) enhancements or features are you most excited for? Are there any features that you’re more excited about that we failed to mention? Let us know in the comments.
Also be sure to up-vote anything you are passionate about on Github using the buttons above. An idea is just an idea until it gets made. Make your voice heard so that these features are the best they can be! When these additions go live we can all breathe a sigh of relief and collectively say “Finally”; the author experience on Craft will match the enjoyable experience of developing for it.
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