Introduction to components
In this section we will explain the basic concepts about components and why they are valuable.
The executive summary why components are useful:
- Opens up a new market where customers can buy ready-made, tested and customizable components thereby cutting down development cost dramatically.
- Ready to made components enables fast prototyping of websites.
- Reuse of a company profile can be achieved without putting to hard restrictions on page layouts.
- Easier to use interface for both developer and advanced users which enables them to drag&drop to create the layout they want.
- More possibilities and easier to learn for developers.
In short - we think there is no excuse not to use components. It can also be combined with the previous template-based way of building if needed.
For those of you who do not know what we mean by components we shall try to explain:
From a companies perspective:
First let's imagine you are a company that decided to use InfoGlue and that a consultant firm has created the initial site for you as you don't have any web-expertice yourself. If they did their job well you can now edit the text easily and add news and other information according to the templates they have created. They have hopefully followed your coorporate identity so your site communicates what you want it to communicate and that the image is what you want it to be. All good so far.
After a while you want to add a new section to the site which should have the same look and feel but with a minor change in what should be on it. You want the same navigation and the same footer but you want the main area to be composed a bit different than the usual templates. You might want to have two articles on the same page for example instead of just one as you most often have otherwise.
The problem now with a standard approach to template-systems is that you will have to call the consultant and they will have to do the new template that fulfills your needs. In most publishing systems you cannot dynamically create a new look easily. In those systems where you can there are the problem that either you have to know html or that you can do so much changing in a visual mode that you risk ruin the coorporate look if you do a mistake.
Anyway - this lack of freedom will cost you time and money and will make you dependent of the consultant. The way InfoGlue tries to help you here is that it introduced a restricted visual page builder for the more advanced customers. This lets users create their own page-layouts but still keeps them within the corporate standards. You can with some training learn how to create almost any layout without knowing any html-coding whatsoever.
So how does this work? When you work with a consultant firm who helps you implement your corporate look and feel you should urge them to do so in well defined components. They should if they are any good be able to create many small, reusable buildingblocks for your site. Those buildingblocks are what we call components. Examples of natural and common components are header components, footer components, navigation components etc. When, for example, they write a template which shows an article in the main area we would make that a component.
The beuty of having all those components later are that you can combine them in whatever way you choose. They will allways maintain your companies look and feel as you never modify the actual html but you will be able to use and arrange them according to your specific demands yourself. So building a new layout involves putting the needed components into place. Much like building with LEGO.
Another big advantage is that components open up a new market area where you as a customer can buy a package of ready to use components suitable for websites of your kind. They are tested and cheap in comparison to building them yourself and the only thing the consultant has to do is to apply your coorporate look and feel to them and complement in those areas where no finished components exists.
The benefits of this approach might not be entirely clear until you have some experience with the traditional method of building and maintaining websites but we belive that this is the most cost-effective way for more advanced users.
From a consultants perspective:
From a consultants perspective this might sound a bit alarming as it could potentially decrease his income but we did not write InfoGlue for the consultants. We also disagree with this as we through our own experience have found that reusing components like this, not only within a site but between sites and even between customers (modified of course) will cut back development cost dramatically, thereby making the consultant more competetitive. The days where you dug in after you landed a customer is over - you have to be efficient and deliver quality fast.