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When Relationships Get Complicated

Something is going on over at EllisLab. It’s obvious that they’re excited about the upcoming release of EE 2.6. The usually quiet, introverted company has been proudly touting their release and confidently sharing through updates on their website.

There are have been a handful of small announcements recently about EE 2.6 and its new features. There’s one big new feature that I thought they would hold out until EE 2.6 was ready to launch, but they couldn’t keep it a secret.

Last week EllisLab announced that EE 2.6 will have a new relationship field that supports multi-relationships field.

Today the update is available for everyone.

Relatedly Speaking

The new native multi-relationship field is a little like Playa by Pixel & Tonic; there are two panes and you can add related entries by clicking them in the left and they appear on the right.

Unlike Playa, you can’t drag and drop between the two panes. To remove an already related entry you have to explicitly click the “x” on the far right of each related entry. Similarly, to reorder them you have to use the grippy area on the far left. Playa offers a much easier way of interacting with the related entries: reorder by clicking and holding anywhere on the entry, remove with a simple double click (in addition to drag and drop or using the arrows between the two panes).

I prefer the aesthetic of the Playa. It is more polished and a nicer user experience. But the new native relationships field copies many of the settings and functionality of Playa. The native field type will get it done for some people the same way that the Rich Text Editor does.

They Had to Do It

EllisLab had to make this addition to the CMS. Was it a direct shot at their new competitor (Pixel & Tonic is building their own CMS called Craft) and an attempt to cut into their sales of Playa? Or did EllisLab finally realize that they need to start innovating the CMS and adding features that arguably should’ve already been there?

It doesn’t really matter which one it was. Both are strategic business moves. The former will definitely rub people the wrong way because Pixel & Tonic’s add-ons help make ExpressionEngine a more attractive CMS. The latter reason will get praise because we’re all relieved that things are moving forward again.

There will always be people who will be unhappy no matter what happens.

Skating to the Puck

The first step to resuming innovation for EllisLab is to play catch-up with the third party add-on community. When innovation stalls, others will do it for you. That’s what Pixel & Tonic and dozens of other add-on developers have done. EE sorely lacks in many areas but our talented group of third party developers have jumped in to fill the holes left by EllisLab’s stagnation over the last few years.

When others beat you to innovation then you’re forced to cede that feature or risk looking like a copy cat. Neither is good but EllisLab surely knows that they’d rather look like a copy cat while serving their customers than continue to lose control of innovation on their platform.

Posted on Apr 23, 2013 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Community, Development Tools, EE Add-ons, EllisLab, ExpressionEngine 2

Johnniefp16:05 on 04.23.2013

I don’t think EllisLab can win! they add a feature that people have been after for ages and a part of the community shout them down for copying. While this is going on one (if not the) major addon developers launches in EllisLabs core space with raft of great features - and many of the concepts were originally from EE in the first instance.

I welcome competition - I will be trying Craft and if it’s suitable for some sites I’ll use it, I’m sure there will be others that EE suits better.

The winner here is us - the users of the software. I could write a pretty long list of stuff that should be in the core of EE (yes… Matrix is top of that list)

Happy that EllisLab have direction again and while they may not be innovating like they used to (you cannot innovate relentlessly forever) they are back on track with the 2.6 release.

Welcome back EllisLab - we’ve missed you.

Skookie16:10 on 04.23.2013

Article sums my thoughts up very nicely.

Erwin Heiser16:56 on 04.23.2013

Adding a feature that a third-party developer already added more than 3 years ago can hardly be qualified as innovation, especially if you’re not even improving on the add-on in question.
I’m glad though EE2.6 appears to be a solid release that fixes a few longstanding bugs and that the impending release of Craft has awoken Ellislab from their long slumber. Competition always benefits the customer.
Still no DazzleThunder

John Faulds21:39 on 04.23.2013

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Nevsie06:32 on 04.25.2013

I was well against EL moving to this big corporate entity. I for one felt they were stagnating, charging more, pulling away benefits, removing all support for paid solutions. But (and never admitting i was wrong in the face of overwhelming evidence!) the changes do seem t have been for the better. If this is a sign of the direction EL are taking with EE - then great - more polished solutions, less bugs, and a product they are once again becoming proud of.

People claim the playa killer - but lets be honest. Relationshsips existed in EE for a long time. P&T did not invent this piece of magic, but they did significantly improve on it. So i feel EL has full rights to improve on something themselves. Something i for one have been asking for for ages.

The question really is - is there a motive behind the attack. Is it a tit for tat move to get back at craft? If so petty - but this is what competition does.

On the other hand, if this is a new path EL are looking to continue on - then i for one am happier with EE than I have been for a long time. Lets just hope this love rolls into other areas - pages, categories, etc. If it does EL has good intentions, if it does not EL was being spiteful.

Just my take on it. N

Chris11:53 on 04.25.2013

Anything that causes me to buy 1 less add-on license is welcome.  In my opinion, Structure, Better Workflow and VZ Bad Behavior/Low No Spam should also be native features to EE.

Tim Carter11:22 on 04.29.2013

I just wonder if EL viewed multi-relationships as too critical a feature to leave in the hands of another company (P&T) that is developing a rival CMS.

Irina Lialyk07:22 on 09.11.2017

thank you for this informasion site