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.
Today the update is available for everyone.
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.