As we are starting a new year here at Business Catalyst, we are excited to finally be able to share with you one of our biggest development projects. We have heard time and again about your quest to deliver more complex, custom made projects that would perfectly tailor the site to your customers. And most of the times that included not only customizing the front end of your site, but also working on the administration section.
BC Open Platform at a glance
Our new project called Business Catalyst Open Platform allows you to build custom-tailored Admin experiences for your customers. The new functionality utilizes the idea of apps (or applications) and powerful REST APIs. It is designed to allow you to easily interface with Business Catalyst as a platform, by creating, editing and styling your own menu items using simple JSON configuration files, or connecting with external tools and applications using our APIs. The full Open Platform program will include:
- A full-fledged developer program
- Web Apps and System REST APIs
- Detailed developer documentation to help you navigate around these new features
- An app marketplace run in collaboration with our partners from BC Gurus.
- A developer forum where partners can comment, share, collaborate and offer feedback to the engineering team.
- Sample applications to get you started
As we move forward we want to open up some of these elements to more developers in a closed beta testing program, so read further to see how you too can be a part of this program. But first, let's take a look at what these new features will help you achieve.
Build custom functionality in the admin section
Whether we are talking about menu entries in the top ribbon or additional entries in the side menus, you will now be able to control how your customers see and interact with the Business Catalyst admin area, which is where most business owners spend their day.
For example, you can add your own homepage slider, where the owner of the site can easily upload images or choose them from the existing library, manage all slides in a single dashboard or even create a video slider with clips integrated from Youtube or Vimeo.
This application will help you by saving development time and giving your end customer a better experience by allowing them to quickly edit their own site in the admin without having to call the partner for future updates.
By creating your own application you will be able to deliver completely custom interfaces, fully adapted to the needs of your customers. These new menu entries can link to outside content or newly coded applications designed specifically for your customers.
Using the new APIs and having the ability to customize your menu entries will allow you to extend the admin section of BC by building your own tools and applications.
Package the apps and sell them on the marketplace
Once you decide that you want to monetize your work beyond a single site, you can package your applications and sell them on the BC App Store (managed by BC Gurus), generating revenue from other partners who want to optimize their work by including your application in their sites.
Over the past few months we have tested these workflows with a handful of dedicated partners which we would like to thank for their efforts. In the App Store you can see some of the applications they already created. Take a moment to review them and see how your sites could benefit from using one of them. They cover a variety of uses such as:
Get an application installed on your site today and take advantage of the reduced development time and added functionality!
We want to thank these developers who took the time to test a new technology that was at times incomplete, and who provided invaluable feedback to our team as we progressed. We hope that as we move forward we will see amazing apps built on this platform.
Start learning with Developer Documentation and Forum
Our Developer program includes detailed documentation to guide you through the first steps in building your application, a developer forum where you can chat, ask questions, collaborate and share ideas, as well as provide the BC engineering team with feedback that can be later integrated into to product.
At this time these tools will be restricted to the beta testing team, but we expect to open them to all BC partners as we move towards a public Beta release within the next few months.
Join our closed Beta Program
At this time installing apps is available for every Business Catalyst partner. In order to join our developer community and try your hand at coding one of the applications or customizing the admin area of your own site, please join our closed Beta Program. You will be required to sign an NDA and receive access to documentation and tools that will help you with the very first instances of app development.
To join the program please send an e-mail to the BC Partner team expressing your interest in this, and they will guide you through the procedure. Please note that the testing group is open to all partners (paid or free) that have created at least one paid site on Business Catalyst.
Within the next few months our team will continue to develop these features with the help of the Beta Group, and then open the development program to all partners of Business Catalyst.
We hope that you are as excited as we are to embark in this new chapter for Business Catalyst, and shape the future of the platform.
The Business Catalyst team