Today, we're answering your requests by introducing an easy and flexible way to customize entry lists on Contentful platform.
At the first glance, the change in question seems simple to implement. Yet, as our team peeled away one layer of problems after another, it became obvious that moving from fixed to customizable entry lists was the kind of change that had far-reaching implications for our technical architecture and the way users work.
One of the biggest challenges associated with customizable views was that people usually work with several distinct types of entries. Take the content structure of a blog: in addition to the actual blog posts, you need to define categories and tags, add author bios and, once in a while, create photo galleries.
While all these entries share a basic set of meta-data; things like creation date, status and title, their additional fields are usually unique to the specific content types. So deciding to show thumbnails of an image gallery would leave blog post and category entries with gaping holes, while showing the number of written posts would make sense under author entry, but not for posts themselves.
There were other limitations to consider as well. The major one was that even within the same organization, there will always be people who need to view entries from different, at times incompatible, perspectives. Being huge fans of minimalistic interfaces, we also worried about overzealous administrators customizing the list to the point where it becomes a living usability nightmare.
Our ultimate solution to all these challenges rests on three improvements to our standard editing interface: separate views for specific content types, the ability to decide which data fields to display in an entry list, and storing of modified views for a later use. Let me introduce you to these enhancements one by one.
Control what you see
We already talked about the importance of context, when discussing how the new search functionality works. The same applies to entry list views: Contentful's editor interface allows you to add, remove and re-arrange displayed field types to your heart's liking, as long as you select a specific content type from the drop-down first.
Clicking on the column selector icon reveals the names of displayed entry fields in grey, while the hidden ones are blue. Click to add/remove fields or drag them to change the order; node.js works its magic to instantly visualize all the changes in the background. While on the topic, due to space constraints we recommend you display the maximum of five fields in the entry list.
Save once, view forever
Allowing our customers personalize the look of entry lists would go only half-way in solving the problem if it was impossible for these views to be used across the entire organization. This is why we added the ability to save any modified entry list arrangement for the later, organization-wide use.
What makes this feature especially powerful is that saved views allow you store not only specific list arrangements, but also keywords and search criteria used for filtering entries. Spend a minute getting all these parameters right and your entire organization will be able to access relevant entries by clicking a link in the sidebar (or an URL shared by email).
Given the prominent role that saved views play in the updated editor interface, we sought to limit the risk of accidents. As a result, only administrators within a given space are allowed to create, edit and delete views. Administrators can also group saved views by adding new header labels or moving views across existing headers.
We hope you'll enjoy these new improvements to Contentful. Don't forget to check out our FAQ and sign up for one of our webinars to take full advantage of Contentful's editing platform.