Introducing the interactive toolbox

Today I'm excited to announce one of the most challenging features that we have released since the launch of JitBlox about 2.5 years back: an interactive toolbox 😀. The new toolbox replaces the existing one, which needed a major refresh. The result is a more interactive and faster prototyping experience.

If you're not familiar with JitBlox, it is an online environment that speeds up the design and prototyping of component-based, single-page applications. JitBlox lets you build working prototypes without coding, providing a jump start for your next web project.

Let's have a look at a simple example: quickly adding a bunch of Bootstrap buttons, better known as a Button group.

With the previous toolbox, adding a Button Group like this required multiple steps (one for adding the button group element itself and one for adding each button). Now, we've got a wizardlike experience that lets you set the most important options right away, with a real-time preview that instantly shows what you get before you even hit the insert button.

A context-sensitive dialog

As you might have noticed, the toolbox has moved to separate a dialog (before, it resided at the side of the template editor). The main reason for this change was to save screen space: it just became too large to fit in the main editor (more about that below).

But there is also another advantage: the dialog is context-sensitive. This means that, when inserting a child element, it can limit its contents to the components that are allowed as children of the current element. And in some cases, it can even offer suggestions:

Context-sensitive toolbox

Tip: when an element has focus, hit the `+` key to insert a new child, and hit the `a` or `b` key to insert above or below the current element.

Quick search

Another handy feature is the component search box: it allows searching for component names, but also for HTML tag names like "h2" to quickly insert well-known HTML elements:

Placeholder images

And last but not least: if you ever wanted to have image placeholders in your JitBlox projects, you needed to resort to an online image placeholder service. With this release that is no longer needed: we've added a super fast placeholder image generator that has configurable colors and texts.

Placeholder images

At this moment, it isn't possible to set a placeholder for existing image elements. You will need to add a new image for that.

What's next?

Another important feature that I'm sure many users will appreciate (and has been on our roadmap for some time), is to have a real-time preview of the component that you are currently working on, integrated into the designer. Our work on the new toolbox has paved the way (both technically and regarding screen space) to bring this feature to one of the following JitBlox versions.

I'm looking forward to hearing your opinions and suggestions (you might also want to check out the JitBlox roadmap, which is updated regularly).

Comments powered by Talkyard.

Read next