The DatoCMS Blog

Retrospective - An avalanche of little things

Posted on June 17th, 2020 by Matteo Giaccone

While the last months have been hard for everybody, lockdown and all, we didn't slow down our production significantly, and we finally caught our white whale: the sandbox environments. Other than that, we tried to repay your ever-growing support with a plethora of small yet significant enhancement.

Let's dive straight into what happened.

Sandbox environments

The main focus of the last iteration has been with sandbox environments. It was a huge endeavor, and we have just started sending out invites for the first batch of beta testers.

Sandbox environments make it easier for your development team to manage and maintain content structure once your content is online. It's an excellent solution for testing, developing, and even pre-production.

If you are interested in learning more or getting an invite, read the brand new documentation pages.

Or if you want to join the conversation, you can see what's up in Community.

Environments prelude

Besides the main beast that we tackled, we worked on a series of small tasks to prepare for the sandbox environments. Let's have a brief look around.

First of all, to avoid name clashes, we renamed the Deployment environments to Build triggers. The name feels better to us and removes the ambiguity between these and the sandbox environments.

We also cleaned up and upgraded our APIs to prepare for the release, and also we have updated our JS and Ruby clients. While this helps immensely, we had to stop supporting our Ruby client with versions older than 0.7.3.

Since we wanted to introduce proper documentation about the new feature, we also took the time to refresh and update other parts of our docs that were incomplete. As a side note, we've also added an integration guide on Mux's documentation.

Another small thing, but useful with sandbox environments, is that you can now reference models by API keys instead of IDs. We'll roll this change in other parts of the CMA as well.

The avalanche of little things

In the last three months, we had a massive amount of small tweaks done to the API and CMS interface to fix bugs, improve performance, and scale up to serve growing projects better. Thanks to your fantastic support, DatoCMS is growing in projects and numbers, so we needed to keep up! We had some rough days, but it's gratifying to see how much we've been able to do together!

Besides the internal and mostly invisible tasks from the outside, we can mention half a dozen exciting stuff.

  • Various enhancements on the Vercel integration. We've managed to get a faster setup and support all of the Git integrations, but there is still room for improvement. Collaborating with the team at Vercel is supremely enjoyable, so we plan on working with them for a long time to give you the best integration possible in the headless space.
  • We have formally launched our new website, built with Next.JS, and a new marketplace for various integrations and plugins.
  • We have worked to improve our support flow, with a better support form and automated replies.
  • A series of updates on our plugins and plugin SDK.
  • Localized fields can now have localized default values.
  • We've worked together with Gatsby to launch an improved version of our Gatsby source plugin that works well with the incremental builds that they have implemented in Gatsby cloud, and then we have been included in their willit.build benchmark site.
  • To pair our React components, we've also released a set of Vue components that you can use to fetch responsive images and SEO fields.
  • Finally, we have refreshed our Terms of Service, to be more thorough and up to date with the changes in DatoCMS. We will also send an email about that to everyone very soon.

Future plans

As always, a little insight on the next three months-ish of work.

First of all we are going to roll out the sandbox environments for everyone. The beta-testing phase is not going to last for long, 2-4 weeks maximum. So expect this very soon!

Next big thing is the public release of the Agency plan, making that fully automated and also providing more insights on costs per-project, to improve visibility of the spending across many projects.

Together with the Agency plan we are going to work a lot on our current checkout and plan addons, to make processes clearer and simpler.

Finally we are going to spend some time on internal improvements, like increasing our automated tests on the frontends and also work on a new version of the API to further improve developer's workflows, while also implementing better support for multiple versions of our APIs, to ensure compatibility in the long run.

As always, please be in touch via Community if you have any feedback, suggestion, or even if you would like to share what you are doing with DatoCMS, we are happy to hear you!

Cover picture by Haley Carman