We’ve been getting a lot of questions about what we’ve been up to from folks on the Forum, so we wanted to take a moment to fill you in on a very large project we’ve been working on for nearly a year now — as well as what features you can look forward to next.
Rearchitecting the Designer
A huge update is coming to the Designer — and you hopefully won’t notice a thing — other than faster feature development.
The Webflow Designer had its humble origins in early 2013, when Vlad started hacking what turned into our CSS Playground. Some of the code powering the Playground became part of the beta version of Webflow — and continues to be used in production today.
That’s why the majority of our front-end engineering team is currently working on completely re-architecting the Designer to use React.js.
Why the switch to React.js? Because this new application architecture will make it much easier to add new features — including features you’ve asked for via the Wishlist, like CMS galleries, pagination, and more.
We hope to finish most of the heavy lifting this summer, so we can start building new components using this new Webflow architecture in the fall.
The new Designer architecture will make it faster and easier for us to:
- Develop more Webflow components (like pagination, dynamic sliders, galleries, etc.)
- Track down bugs
- Create an extensible system for third-party developers to build their own custom components to use on Webflow sites — and share with others
With that out of the way, here’s a peek at what’s coming next:
As we work to put the new Designer architecture in place, we want to make sure our developers are comfortable with the new coding paradigm. So we’re concurrently working on your second-most-requested feature: site search.
This has been a perfect feature to work with our new Designer architecture on, as we worked to apply the power of Webflow’s CMS dynamic lists to other “lists,” like search results. That way, your experience of designing search result lists will be very similar to designing dynamic lists.
The backend development (using ElasticSearch to index all of your site’s data, and serving it with an API) is complete, and we’re now focusing development on the Designer integration. We’re still in heavy development, but we’re looking to ship this feature soon.
Another highly requested feature is coming very soon. Which means you’ll soon be able to upload documents like PDFs to be hosted on your Webflow-powered sites.
After the initial Interactions 2.0 announcement last fall, we immediately felt the excitement amongst our community. With over 100 new UI components that needed to be built to support this big new feature, we knew that this would take a considerable amount of time to develop.
After extensive planning and research, development is moving along nicely, we plan to start a closed beta in the summer to get some user feedback. If you haven’t already, sign up to take part in our private beta of Interactions 2.0.
We’ll be sharing more information on this feature throughout the summer!
As we detailed in How we’re making Webflow hosting even more reliable, we’ve taken big steps toward improving our hosting performance and reliability.
We’ve also started comprehensive work to make sure we have strong disaster recovery practices in place. We’ve just completed standing up and testing a new staging environment based on this new infrastructure, and we’re confident that this will set the stage for the next few years of growth, and the next wave of domains to be hosted on Webflow.
It all comes back to the team
Of course, none of this would be possible without our team of engineers, which has doubled almost every year since our founding. As that team nears 20 members, we’ve recognized the importance of learning how to operate before we accelerate.
That’s why, over the past year, we’ve been implementing and iterating on both development practices and process improvements designed to make us more efficient. In the coming years, we’ll continue to work on both our team and our technologies, all to ensure that we can put a better product in your hands, faster.
“Today is difficult. Tomorrow is much more difficult. But the day after tomorrow is beautiful.”
–Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba
Webflow engineering is moving faster than ever. However, that speed doesn’t always translate directly to features that you see immediately. The web is an ever-changing environment, and developing a complex design tool on top of it has plenty of challenges.
This year, the effort we’re putting into future-proofing our tech stack will allow us to accelerate development for new features, which means even more creative options, innovative designs, and happier businesses. Thanks for sticking with us, and we hope you found this update helpful!