If any of you have written modules for Sitefinity prior to the 4.4 release, then you know that module writing can be a tricky, cumbersome process. It’s not hard to miss a small step, causing your module not to run or breaking your Sitefinity installation altogether. But don’t despair! Telerik has addressed this issue in 4.4 by creating the Module Builder, a tool that lets you build custom modules from within in the Sitefinity admin area.
In case you were speed-reading that last sentence, let me say this again: Module Builder lets you build modules in the admin. No coding necessary.
“But, Liz,” you say, “I’m a developer. Coding is my life!” Well, trust me on this one: use the Module Builder. To say that it saves time and effort is an understatement. It took Craig, a fellow Matrix Group programmer, less than five minutes to create a new module in Module Builder. No joke. To quote Telerik developer Ivan Osmak (during a recent Module Builder webinar):
“This tool was not built for people who don’t know how to program, it’s for people who don’t have time.”
So what else is cool about module builder besides reducing your workload? Let’s break it down:
- Modules can be turned on and off — no more being stuck with a module forever once it’s installed.
- Dynamic modules can be accessed programmatically — even though you don’t have to write code, you can work with and extend dynamic modules in the same way you would a native Sitefinity module.
- There are no performance/efficiency issues for dynamic modules compared to native modules.
- You don’t need to worry about accessing the OpenAccessEnhancer in the SDK for dynamic modules.
- Dynamic modules support workflow.
- Images, videos, and media can be uploaded as part of dynamic modules. (Bonus! Having the image selector available for native Sitefinity modules is slated for Sitefinity 5.1 this summer.)
Module Builder is pretty darn awesome. Telerik readily and candidly admits, though, that this is a first generation product. For instance, it would be nice to be able to delete modules completely, instead of only turning them off. Telerik made the decision to hold that code, preferring to release a more stable product initially — which I certainly appreciate. Knowing that some features were held back, however, begs the question: what is Telerik planning for the next updates of Module Builder? Here are some of the things we can look forward to:
- Module deletion (Sitefinity 5.0 – Feb. 2012)
- GUID field available to use with dynamic modules (5.0)
- Module migration/export (5.0)
- Adding comments to dynamic modules (Sitefinity 5.1 – Summer 2012)
- Adding a taxonomy selector to dynamic modules (5.1)
- Multi-lingual support (Late 2012)
- Fluent API for dynamic modules (Release date unknown)
- Editing previously added fields (Release date unknown)
- Synching dynamic modules with the new Sitefinity Site Synch tool (Release date unknown)
Want to learn more about module builder? Check out our links below. Already using module builder? Tell us what you think.
Module Builder (Sitefinity.com)
Deep Dive Exploration of Sitefinity’s New Module (Telerik TV)