Perspective on the Style Guide approach to templated apps

Perspective on the Style Guide approach to templated apps

I just installed the Enterprise Manager and Style Guide solutions. As a quick proof-of-concept, I set about creating a quick add/edit/delete application using the templates. My experiment was based on a single entity type.

While I really like the visual styles and abilities in the delivered Style templates, I was shocked by the huge number of places I needed to "tweak" the template for my simple experiment. None of the changes were complex but it was a ton of little details. After an hour of tinkering I put the effort on the "back burner" until I have more time.

I think this problem is common with any copy-paste-reuse style of templating, not just the Style Guide templates. Templates are inherently "concrete" and thus don't usually provide useful "centralized abstractions" to reduce customization effort. The other downside that usually occurs with copy-paste-reuse templates is when improvements (new features, etc.) are added to the platform they eventually trickle their way up in the form of shiny new templates. It can, however, be a LOT of work to adjust (or re-create) everything that was previously built/branched from the previous version of the templates.

I am admittedly still an [eager] novice when it comes to OutSystems development (though I have much experience with Java/J2EE, ASP.NET, Ruby on Rails, Cold Fusion, etc. etc.) so perhaps there something that I am missing that avoids the concerns I've raised about templates. I would appreciate any advice/guidance you have to offer.

Thank you for your time/thoughts/feedback.

Eric Kramer
Nationwide Children's Hospital

Hi Eric,


You are right. The goal of this template was also to be used as an example (go to the Help tab and click the button load sample data to see it working) to see the RichWidgets in action.  Unfortunately this made it a bit complex to use it as a template.


Nevertheless it is important that all your applications have a consistent look and feel and follow some usability guidelines so what I would suggest is that you take the template, modify its style to meet your company design, and simplify it so it can be used with less effort to create new applications. 


You are also right about the inherent problem of the concept of templates and we will certainly take your feedback into account in the future.



Tiago Simões


Thanks for your advice. I've been going through the template as you suggest and massively simplifying it (e.g., removing a lot of flashy AJAX in favor of a simpler example).

If you're looking for suggestions, you might consider adding a "generator" (much like Ruby on Rails does) that could just be a simple wizard that takes some initial information (e.g., pick an ENTITY) and generates a starter CRUD web flow. While this doesn't give you any "round-trip" abilities and doesn't solve upgrade issues, it would at least give the developers a quick way to get started. I imagine you could then do your own version of a "blog in 5 minutes" webcast (but perhaps it would only take 2 minutes with OS? :)

Thanks again for your timely feedbac, Tiago!
Eric Kramer
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Hey Eric

I agree with you, This is a great product and I have suggested as well that they consider adding a generator based on perhaps one's data model. Generate the app with the basic screens and such. After witch one could tweak and add the finishing touches or add more complex features.

With my Govt customers, they tend to have large amount of entities, over 30 in some cases. As much as I love this product creating an App with these many entities using the template (Which is really solid), even with a couple of folks can be very un-aglie like experience.

Gary McKay