[jifty-devel] Ideas for Jifty plugins

Andrew Sterling Hanenkamp andrew.hanenkamp at boomer.com
Fri Jan 26 17:48:02 EST 2007

I had some ideas for Jifty plugins that I thought I'd run by the list to
see if anyone was already working on such things and to get some
feedback on how bad these ideas might be. I've used Jifty to create one
application for my company and that's worked pretty well. With a few
additional tools, I think Jifty might be a good fit for a collection of
similar tools we're currently gathering requirements for, but to become
a good fit, Jifty needs a few more features.
These are *ideas* of things I would like to implement if we were to
choose the Jifty platform, but won't happen unless Jifty continues to
look like a good fit and I actually get approval to build them. So here
Model/Schema Builder Plugin:

This plugin would provide additional functionality that would allow for
the creation of new models and update of existing models from within the
application. You would create a new model, be able to set up some of the
basics, and build out the columns of the model from within the screens
provided by the plugin.

The goal would be that an authorized user would be able to visually
develop models for the application. I can see some challenges regarding
when to deploy the schema and how to cope with a user that adds a
column, removes a column, and re-adds the column with a different set of
settings or something, but I think that these difficulties can probably
be overcome.

Action/Form Builder Plugin:

This is a compliment to the plugin above. This extends a similar visual
tool to the development of custom forms. The actual action taken by the
forms would either be limited to the built in
Create/Update/Delete/Search functions or have to be implemented in the
old-fashioned way (or have additional built-ins made available). 

The goal would be that an authorized user would be able to visually
develop forms for the application. I see fewer challenges with the
implementation of this plugin than with the Model/Schema Builder, but
there probably are some that my quick considerations haven't stumbled

I have a few others I'd need as well, but I'll stick with just the two
most important ones first.

As you can probably tell from the plugins, I'm trying to make Jifty
development more accessible. Here's why: I work for a general consulting
firm and the consultants (CPA/MBA/HR types) would like to be able to
build out form-based tools to help them during their engagements. Jifty
is very close to providing the write feel for what they want for some
simple data collection and reporting, but they really want something
that they can tweak a bit. 

For example, we might have a general application developed for helping a
firm perform a certain kind of planning. However, a given firm might
want to record some internal project code with tasks in addition to the
fields already provided. I would like the consultant to be able to
modify the application with the extra field without having to wait on
me. He could do it right during the engagement. We might also create the
application and clone it and then let the client make the schema
modification on their own. Eventually, it would be really nice if the
consultants could build out whole new tools this way.

The fact that Jifty's schema is so flexible makes this look like a good
idea rather than trying to develop my own schema system by creating a
generic set of "object" tables with "field" rows associated with them
according to some "custom field" table defines things (i.e., how RT
handles custom fields). There are some existing web services for doing
similar things as well, but I've not found one that I'm happy with yet
(but maybe I'm just picky). I'm also looking for a challenge at work
where I can make a solid contribution to an Open Source project, which
is supported by my employer. This could be it.

Anyway, this might be a terrible idea or someone might already be doing
something similar, so I thought I'd let the members of the list help me
out one way or the other. 

Sorry for the long email and thanks for sticking with me if you've read


Andrew Sterling Hanenkamp
Interaction Developer
Boomer Consulting, Inc.
andrew.hanenkamp at boomer.com
1-785-537-2358 x17
1-888-266-6375 x17
610 Humboldt St.
Manhattan, KS 66502
http://www.boomer.com <http://www.boomer.com/> 

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