Introducing Perch Feathers

Perch Feathers is a new type of add-on, aimed at making it possible to manage front-end assets such as CSS, JavaScript and images through Perch.

Why might you want to do this?

We have discussed in the past the possibility of having some kind of optional themes system in Perch. We never want Perch to become the sort of product where you have to create a theme to use it, we like our concept of dropping in a few tags and start managing content, leaving you in control of your design and architecture. However there are places where the system knowing about your front-end code can be helpful.

For us, Feathers enables us to sensibly include a default CSS file in example pages, that can be used as the basis for the example pages for our official add-ons. You can see this in action if you download the Quill Feather, and the updated Blog app (Blog 3.5). We’ve found that many people like to use our CSS as a basis for their own and we wanted to be able to help them to do that. So Feathers could be used to create theme or template based websites, if that is something that you offer to clients. You could even create these Feathers to share or sell to other Perchers.

However Feathers can be used for much more than this.

Grids, normalize CSS, boilerplates

If you develop your sites and generally include a grid system, normalize stylesheet or elements from HTML5 Boilerplate, you can create a Feather with all of these, ready to drop into each site. See our Startblock Feather for an example.

CSS Preprocessing

Many of you are using CSS pre-processors like LESS or Sass. It may be that you compile your CSS via your editor, but you can also do that using PHP on the server-side. We have a Feather available for Sass and it takes into account whether you are in development or production mode in Perch.

Create your own Feathers

Feathers are simple to create using the official Perch Feathers as an example and referring to the documentation. If you have questions about creating Feathers please post to the Feathers forum.

Tell us what you think

This is new functionality and will no doubt develop as we see how people use it. Feathers are entirely optional functionality, if you don’t want to use the feature, it won’t get in your way. However if you do use it, let us know your thoughts.

If Perchers are keen to start sharing Feathers with other Perchers then we can look at a way to do that. For now we’ve created a forum specifically for sharing Feathers, Field Types or other add-ons to Perch.