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Future plug-in architecture

Vlad mentioned plug-ins in the last workshop I think this topic deserves special attention. The reason is just how dangerous it might be. (Everything which brings greater potency comes with greater dangers on its back side).

Sure we do not want Webflow to turn into the plug-in nightmare that Wordpress is and I am certain this is one one of the starting points for the Webflow team when developing the whole concept.

I would like to address a much deeper aspect. The question is not whether plug-in architecture should be implemented cautiously and wisely and it is not even how exactly it should be implemented. I’m wondering, should we have plug-in architecture on the first place? Does it really enable faster product improvement?

I’d like to ask the community to share examples in which plug-in architecture has allowed for the development of products rich in scope and quality and much better as whole compared to their non-plug-in competitors.

The way I looked at it wasn’t exactly plug ins the way wordpress has them but more crowdsourced components that will be under rigorous scrutiny of the webflow team before released. As it is not, the team must approve all templates and only let the best through. I imagine the same would be true for add ons.

Additionally, wasn’t it you who posted a thread criticizing the speed in which new features are released? This would be a sure way to expedite that process.

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I agree with this completely.

As long as they can maintain a very high level of quality within plug-ins, which I have no doubt they will, I see nothing but great potential with the addition of them.


Sure it was me :slight_smile: My question in this case is whether plug-ins, as an approach in general, would really speed up development.

I am not so confident that it would necessarily be a “sure way”. Think of this: you have about three, approved, tested, etc, that is, three top-notch plug-ins for a given functionality. This does add complexity, e.g.:

  • you’ll have browse a directory to find them;
  • you’ll have to compare them and choose one ;
  • you’ll need to update them;
  • etc.

I was thinking of something of the sort of a crowdsourcing contest aiming at the development of one single best component. This way we might have the best of both worlds (one single component + faster speed of development). For example, Webflow announces a contest for the development of file upload functionality, the winning solutions get implemented, but the contest remains open all the time for suggestion for even better versions.

Could you provide examples from the software industry?

Likely there wouldn’t be multiple plugins that do the same thing. Likely they would choose the best one and make sure it’s perfect before adding it. There is not contest needed for something like this, that is simply how it happens for templates as well. As time goes on and new tech is available, plugins would change and be updated.

The first step is to allow copy and paste between sites, that would allow custom elements to be sold through the template marketplace to be copied into existing sites.

Well Wordpress was already mentioned, even though it was in reference to how they shouldn’t be done, however there is lots of tools that allows some sort of plug-in functionality. While they don’t always play nice and work as intended, lots of these save tons of time and provide essential features.

I work with Shopify at work daily and without the added benefit of their apps, their terminology for plug-ins, we wouldn’t be able to do half of what is needed without hiring a developer. In fact, I would go as far as saying without the additional features provided via these apps, Shopify would be unfit for most of their customers.

Just today I was looking into some plug-ins for both Illustrator and Photoshop, and there are tons of options available for most Adobe software. These add-ons give users much needed functionality outside of what is offered stock and alleviates the need for hyper specific development for Adobe. Ultimately this allows them to focus on “core features” instead of “nice-to-haves” while giving the community access to features they may need for individual projects or their specific workflow.

I didn’t catch the workshop, so I’m not sure exactly what was outlined, but the addition of these (as long as it is done correctly) will lead to much more potential for everyone. It seems like a natural progression given the need as expressed by the users in the forum.

Who knows though, it may screw everything up. Again, the whole implementation requires a lot of planning on behalf of Webflow, but I have trust in the ability of their awesome staff.

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Following the latest Webflow workshop (youtube.com/watch?v=RrVDYfaFCV4) I come to the conclustion that the marketplace is a current priority of development and that, it would most likely be a user-to-user marketplace.

This is my biggest concern and fear.

It would be great to have a marketplace where the sole consumer is Webflow - that is, a marketplace, where technically savvy Webflow users compete to offer top solutions for the next roadmap items (e.g. search functionality). But a user-to-user marketplace…

This means numerous solutions to the same problem (e.g. search functionality), which means more time for a user to spend on searching and testing until s/he decides which solution (plug-in) works best…
Things are easiest and work best when there’s only one best solution on the table.

I can see how this marketplace would initially stir up positive emotion by finally letting us see long awaited features, but I am afraid, some time later, it would become evident that this marketplace has sped up things and increased complexity instead of reducing it, which is a dangerous combination.

That’s a valid concern. I remember something along the lines that Webflow will also review submissions and only approve high-quality plugins to the marketplace.

Well, it would have been the worst case scenario if they did not intend to review submissions and only approve high-quality plugins :slight_smile:

My point is not about the quality at this stage, but about unnecessary complexity - if I want an upload button functionality, I just want it immediately available in the interface. I do not want to browse a plug-in directory and discover that there are three possibilities, and have to read about each of them, test them, etc…

This also increases complexity in terms of pricing - on the one hand I’d have to navigate the pricing structure of Webflow (which would inevitably be more or less complex due to the nature of the product) and on the other hand I’d have to additionally take into account that this or that plug-in adds up to the cost.