Developers have many tools. We have version control systems, we have dependency management tools, we have build and task automation tools. What is one thing they all have in common? They are command line tools.
However, the command line can be daunting to some and create a barrier to adoption. We’re currently experiencing this in the Drupal community. People are considering Composer a barrier to entry, and I believe it’s just because it’s a command line tool and something new.
Providing a user interface
User interfaces can make tools more usable. Or at least lower the barrier to entry. I like to think of Atlassian's SourceTree. SourceTree is an amazing Git user interface and was my entry into learning how to use Git.
If you work with Java, your IDE provides some sort of user interface for managing your dependencies via Maven.
The PhpStorm IDE provides rudimentary Composer support - initializing a project and adding dependencies - but doesn’t support entire workflows. It’s also proprietary.
Here’s where I introduce Conductor: a standalone Composer user interface built on Electron. The purpose of Conductor is to give users working with PHP projects an interface for managing their projects outside of the command line.
Conductor provides an interface for:
- Creating a new project based on a Composer project
- Managing projects to install, update, add, and remove dependencies
- View dependencies inside of a project
- Ability to update or remove individual dependencies by reviewing them inside of the project.
- Run Composer commands from the user interface and review console output.
The project is in initial development, granted by the downtime the Dyn DDoS attack created.
The initial application is now in an above minimal viable product. It works. It can be used. But now it needs feedback from users who feel a barrier by having to use Composer, and code improvements as well.
Head over to GitHub and check out the project: https://github.com/mglaman/conductor. You can download an initial alpha release from https://github.com/mglaman/conductor/releases/latest, or clone the repo and run it in development mode.