Featured user: Randy Carey

Starting today, every month, we sit down and talk to one of our users and feature their story on our blog. This month we talked with Randy Carey, web architect and owner of Careytech Studios LLC.

Tell us a little about yourself

I might not be your typical user of Component-Creator. I used to be a software engineer building custom apps and systems software in C++ and Java. I approach web projects with the expectation that I understand the software’s architecture and that I’ll be developing custom solutions at code-level.

What does your company do? 

We build full-featured websites for clients, custom projects for ad agencies and other web firms, and Joomla extensions for my research at the iCue Project. I’m also the “migration lead and content strategist” for the Joomla Community Magazine as we migrate it from 2.5 and K2 into 3.x and com_content.

How long have you been using Component Creator?

I’ve had a paid subscription to Component Creator for about two years.

Roughly how many components have you built using Component Creator?

I’ve generated at least 35 components with component creator.

How much time do you estimate Component Creator has saved you?

While Component Creator has undoubtedly saved me a large amount of time, I see its value differently than dollars saved. It allows me to build custom components that I otherwise would not have offered to clients. As a result, I have delivered products that are much more tailored to a client’s needs rather than compromise with the closest fit and limitations of a third-party component.

This allows me to position myself as an advanced web developer. Being able to confidently offer custom solutions has won me projects that otherwise would not have been awarded to me.

Further, being able to quickly generate custom components has allowed me to experiment with prototypes. My work with iCue Project centers on usability issues for authors and site managers. When I have a new idea for a tool or technique that would help authors and site owners, I sketch out how it should work and use Component Creator to build the base component from which I prototype and test a new tool or approach.

Can you give an example of a component that was built using Component Creator?

Examples: For a U.S. county (local government) I built a component that tracks pre-meeting agendas and recorded minutes for a bi-weekly meeting of the county commissioners. It leverages ACL to restrict access and a search plugin to make the minutes searchable (such as finding the meetings that discussed a certain topic).

Another web firm hired me to develop a rather sophisticated leads-generation component for one of its clients. It queries leads from would-be vacationers, allows paying resorts to manage these leads through personalized dashboards, and allows the site owner to monitor the flow of leads and the behavior of participating resorts.

An example from the iCue Project is prototyping a component allowing the super admin to create sublevels of user managers. Each of these sublevels is limited as to what users it can edit and what actions and user groups it can assign. This is a multi-faceted problem, and not having to code a base component allows me to embrace this challenge and focus on inventing a solution. I now have proof-of-concept, so next I need to refine it into an installable extension for distribution.

Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve Component Creator?

My number one request right now is for components to integrate content history. It’s not trivial, I know, but it is a huge opportunity for us developers. All clients expect to be able to roll back to a previous version, and they justifiably don’t understand why their previous text or settings are lost once they hit “save.”

Another suggestion: I think the Joomla community has not realized the potential of creating custom field types with JForm. It was Component Creator’s generation of custom field types that opened my eyes to the potential of this Joomla feature. What I’d like to see is a library of custom fields types from which we subscribers can review, download, and try. An example of a field type that has value for reuse: a dropdown using Javascript to list the relevant states/provinces based upon the currently selected country. And perhaps such a library could be populated by custom field types that have been submitted by your subscribers.

What do you like best about Component Creator?

Component Creator adheres to the Joomla standards. It uses ACL, JForms, the MVC, and more, implemented as we find in the core components (particularly in com_content). This gives me confidence that my custom components are built upon the core standards. And because I study the code to enhance it, the generated components keeps me informed about how a Joomla component is meant to work.

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