Ruby on Rails
Ta-da List


June 23, 15:43

Getting to drag'n'drop with Backpack

One of the hallmarks of disruptive technologies is that they eat their way up through the chain of capabilities over time. With the rise of Ajax, DHTML techniques like drag'n'drop are becoming a lot more useful. And together, they're taking the web application up another step on that chain of capabilities. The gab to mimicking the rich desktop applications is growing ever more narrow.

Point in case: We just introduced drag'n'drop for reordering of list items and notes in Backpack. It freaking rocks. Yes, everything old is new again. But that's the point. OmniOutliner still has a much richer environment for manipulating lists, but I already valued the sharing and accessibility of the content more. Taking one step closer to the rich feel is going to do the same of a lot more people.

But the real reason this is a big deal is because the rocket science department has been put on leave. With the Javascript library by Thomas Fuchs, that builds on the great Prototype library from Sam Stephenson, it's silly easy to add advanced drag'n'drop to your Rails (or any) application.

By taking the complexity out of the ordeal, it becomes more accessible, less of a project, and more something you just do. Rails initial support for Ajax through Prototype had the same characteristics. Make it as easy as not to. And thus, Backpack was filled to the brim with Ajaxing goodies. Something it certainly wouldn't have been if we were doing it old skool style with loads of custom Javascript build by experts.

So we're getting closer every day. With the impending, upcoming release of Rails we'll include all this stuff right in the box. Rails is going to push the frontier of integration once again. Everything needed to build web applications like Backpack. Slick effects, cool interaction, and a solid MVC stack without having to strap on the professor hat.

Challenge by Jonathan on June 23, 16:44

I really like the idea of having both protoype and the Javascript library in rails!

Challenge by Jin on June 23, 16:54

I just checked out the library yesterday and drag-and-drop was the first thing that really caught my attention. Im looking forward to using it in my apps as well.

Challenge by Chris Griego on June 23, 17:31

I was one of the proponents for drag & drop reordering in Backpack, but I hope you read my criticism on the lack of no-drop zones before this gets baked into Rails.

Challenge by Rob Sanheim on June 23, 18:17

Will this feature make it into tada lists or basecamp soon?

Challenge by Scott Becker on June 23, 20:10

glad to see a new entry on one of my favorite blogs. i gotta have my fix! awesome that this will be packed right into rails.