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Collaborating across companies and continents with Creamarketing

Creamarketing from Finland and Silverstripe from New Zealand recently collaborated to add a new Nested Gridfield feature to SIlverstripe CMS. This is the prefect example of how open-source can enable collaboration across companies and across continents.

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Silverstripe always tries to dogfood its own products to ensure they are fit for purpose. This includes Silverstripe CMS. Many of the innovations and improvements we put into Silverstripe CMS are aimed at resolving day-to-day challenges we are seeing with our own customers. However, our use cases and experiences with Silverstripe CMS may not always be representative of all the ways Silverstripe CMS is used by other agencies and community members.

We’re always excited to discover how others are using Silverstripe CMS to solve novel problems with innovative solutions. That’s why we were delighted when Creamarketing reached out to us a few months ago to demo some of their cool projects.

About Creamarketing

Creamarketing is a digital agency based in Vaasa, Finland. But they have clients all over Europe and have been active members of the Silverstripe CMS European community for several years.

Building eCommerce websites in Europe introduces multiple unique challenges.

  • Complying with the EU’s unique regulatory environment especially with GDPR.
  • Selling products across multiple European jurisdictions inside and outside the EU single market.
  • Adapting to the multitude of languages and cultures across Europe.

Creamarketing has seen an opportunity to develop a bespoke eCommerce solution around Silverstripe CMS. This included improving upon pre-existing modules like SilverShop and building brand new features from scratch. In the process, Creamarketing has accrued a community of customers and partners across Europe that help them workshop and refine their eCommerce offering.

In true Open Source spirit, Creamarketing offered to work with us to contribute back some of their cool innovation so other Silverstripe CMS projects can benefit from their hard work.

Silverstripe and Creamarketing joining forces

Our first introduction to Creamarketing was at Silverstripe’s Innovation Week in August 2023. Niklas Forsdahl demoed many of Creamarketing’s custom solutions they developed over the years.

A few months later, we had a follow up meeting to discuss what features Creamarketing was keen to contribute back into supported modules and how to approach cross-company collaboration.

Creamarketing is full of ideas! Initially, it was mostly a question of figuring out which one of those ideas could best fit with our existing modules and would provide the most value.

Once we settled on a good first project, we discussed how to approach the work to avoid duplication of effort and get it to a point where it could be merged back into a supported module. Unlike the more simple community contributions, Creamarketing’s feature was moderately complex and required more upfront validation. Fortunately, Creamarketing had collected a lot of great user research with their own clients.

Once we agreed on the acceptance criteria, Niklas from Creamarketing was able to start work on adapting their existing module to be in a mergeable state. Guy Sartorelli, senior product developer on the CMS Squad, supported Niklas with peer review.

The CMS Squad also undertook some follow up work in areas where Creamarketing didn’t have as much experience such as drafting behat tests.

Nested GridField, the first innovation

The result of this initial collaboration between Silverstripe and Creamarketing is the addition of a new Nested Gridfield component to the symbiote/silverstripe-gridfieldextensions module.

This new component makes it possible to display a child relation of a record within an existing GridField. This component also works with hierarchical DataObject allowing you to access records in a tree like UI.

nested gridfield screen shotSilverstripe CMS developers and users will be able to make use of this new feature in the Silverstripe CMS 5.3 release scheduled for October 2024.

For the more adventurous developers, you can try out the symbiote/silverstripe-gridfieldextensions 4.1.0-alpha1 release to preview the feature.

Forging ahead

This initial collaboration was an awesome experience on both sides and it enabled the addition of a great new feature to Silverstripe CMS. We’re already working with Creamarketing on an encore: an improved GridField state management adapter.

More broadly, this type of cross-company collaboration could be an exciting new approach to developing new features for Silverstripe CMS and we would be keen to try it out with other partners.

Thank you to Creamarketing for contributing back to Silverstripe CMS and embracing the Open Source ethos!

About the author
Maxime Rainville

Maxime was the CMS Squad Team Lead at Silverstripe. The CMS Squad is the team inside Silverstripe that looks after Silverstripe CMS day-to-day.

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