Say Hello! to the Business Catalyst Open Platform

Cristinel Anastasoaie - Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Open Platform is a strategic initiative aimed at making Business Catalyst an extensible platform, and we're happy to announce the public launch of Open Platform.

With this initiative, we open our platform to the strong partner community that are both experts in the needs of small businesses and great web developers. Using the BC Open Platform, advanced partners can build functionality on top of BC (and package it as apps), and the rest of Business Catalyst community can enhance their customers' sites by installing those apps. The new applications, that appear in BC websites Admin section, will enrich Business Catalyst current modules using REST APIs and JavaScript SDKs.

What is Open Platform, and what types of applications can we build with it?

Open platform relies on three pillars to transform Business Catalyst into a truly open business platform:

  1. The Business Catalyst partner community
  2. An app marketplace where apps are published, purchased and installed from
  3. A full-fledged developer program with access to REST APIs, developer documentation and forums

There are many applications you can build on top of the Open Admin platform. From photo galleries with drag & drop image sorting (we're giving the gallery away for free), to team management apps (also free), to full Backup solutions, Menu editors, product editors, deeper Google Analytics integration, and much more.

Introducing the BC App Store

In collaboration with our long time partners BC Gurus, we’re happy to officially announce the app marketplace (BC App Store), which lets you install apps and plugins on your Business Catalyst sites with just a few clicks. The BC App Store project was launched a few months ago while Open Platform and apps were in early days, and the joint effort of the Adobe team, the team at BC Gurus, beta app developers and quite a few of partners acting as early adopters, made it the place to go if you want to add functionality to a BC site.

Brent Weaver - BC App Store: "Open Platform changes the game for Business Catalyst. The community can now develop powerful applications for their clients and share that value with the entire ecosystem instantaneously through the BC App Store. This will allow the BC team to focus on core features while the partner community scales niche applications and solves unique problems."

BC App Store features a collection of apps and plug-ins that could help partners enhance a BC site without spending hours on custom development. These have been built by some dedicated Business Catalyst partners who wanted to share their work with the BC partner community and help other partners deliver state of the art websites.

Mike Sallander - Solid Sky: "Open Platform allows us to create new experiences, functionality and integrations for BC Partners which are delivered through the BC App Store, making distribution and installation simple. This is a truly exciting time for us as we now have the power to provide additional value to the BC Partner Community by extending and connecting the platform."

If you’re looking to enhance your sites, take some time to review the apps already featured on the store and see how your sites could benefit from using one of them. Here are some of the hot apps so far:

Looking to build apps?

Whether it's a custom admin menu for a specific website, a fully customized inventory management interface or a full-fledged back-up solution that can be deployed on any Business Catalyst web site, Open Platform empowered some long-time partners to deliver more functionality to their customers.

One of BC's most successful partners has looked into Open Platform as way to deliver tailored experiences to their high-end customers:

Brett Stockley - Pretty Pollution: "Open Platform has really unlocked our ability to create custom solutions in Business Catalyst. Now, when a client asks for a feature that doesn’t exist in the core BC modules we can turn to Open Platform to build a solution allowing us to fully service the needs of our clients"

On the other side of the world, Karim from Dashbee sees Open Platform as a good opportunity to deliver additional functionality to other BC partners:

Karim Ardalan - Dashbee: "We initially started developing BackupBC as a service to be hosted on our own servers, but when Open Platform became available we immediately knew it was better to build our app right inside the admin console as a more seamless experience for partners and their clients. We believe Open Platform is going to propel BC to new heights, and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of it."

For more insights on how Open Platform is viewed by the partner community, listen the Episode 36 of the Business Catalyst podcast. In this episode, we talked to five top BC partners about the impact that Open Platform will have on their business, strategies, and most importantly, their clients. In a similar spirit, in the latest BC Sandpile you can see several app developers demoing their apps and answering questions from other partners.

To start building apps yourself, sign-up as a developer from your Partner Portal and register your app with us. The developer program provides a complete set of tools to help partners take their sites to the next level:

  1. Web apps and System REST APIs
  2. JavaScript SDK
  3. Developer documentation
  4. Sample applications
  5. Developer forum

We are launching the Open Platform with an initial set of APIs, but we will continue to expose more and more data as REST APIs to enable the creation of better, more usable applications.

To get you started, browse through the developer documentation portal and go through the getting started guides, app development faq and read our APIs and SDK reference docs. Next, you can play with our sample apps or start from scratch if you're all set. Once done, you can deploy the apps to your customers sites or publish it on the app store for other partners to use.

If you want to contribute, you might want to know that we’ve open sourced the JavaScript SDK, the sample apps and the developer documentation and made them available on GitHub.

Before registering as a developer, you might want to know some of the key program rules:

  1. You must be a Business Catalyst partner with at least one paid site
  2. While building applications, you are not allowed to replicate Business Catalyst core functionality and enable installing those apps it on lower plans
  3. Applications should not process credit card payments

We hope that Open Platform will re-kindle innovation in the BC ecosystem. We're looking forward to seeing more applications being developed and used!

Feel free to check out the BC Open Platform FAQ for more details.

The BC Team