Chisel is a headless, API-first CMS built on top of Parse Server (node.js, express.js and mongoDB).
Video Walkthrough: (turn your volume up, sorry the audio is rubbish)
react.js application that we will be releasing free and open source to the community, continuing to build on the great work that the core team at Facebook and the extended community have done with Parse Server this year.
Chisel will join our suite of beautifully designed developer tools (once it itself is beautiful enough). In the meantime I’d love to share our early progress and invite you to give it a try, report all the bugs, make all the suggestions and generally get involved in the project.
The idea for Chisel was seeded a while back, after playing around with existing API-first CMS solutions.
We integrated Contentful into Hammer. These guys are the market leaders, with more than $16.8m raised to date from investors like Point9 Capital, Balderton Capital, Benchmark and others. Contentful offer an entirely hosted/managed solution that ranges from free for small personal sites, to $249/month, $949/month up to god-knows-how much for the larger enterprise clients. It’s a great service, truly. But there are some concerns among developers I spoken to over pricing, the black box / vendor lock-in of the hosted service and inability to work offline in development, with a self hosted database.
We also integrated Cockpit. Cockpit is a project bootstrapped by one developer, Artur Heinze, it’s a great app too. I seriously considered how we could help grow the project, but being PHP based, it didn’t really fit our core stack preference. I really hope Cockpit continues to develop and we should support Artur’s work. Cockpit can be run locally, so it’s great for working offline when required (train, countryside, whatever).
Meanwhile, over the past couple of years, I’ve been working on our Nuwe product. Nuwe has evolved into a much larger application that can be used as a company’s core dev platform. One of it’s key features is the ability to easily, with a single-click, spin up new Parse-Server instances to enable rapid creation of back-end server environments for any purpose. You can self-host Parse Server too, it’s free and it’s open source. I like Parse Server and use it quite a bit for rapid build projects.
Since Parse Server was released in January 2016, I’ve really enjoyed watching the project evolve, out the back of the Parse.com wind down. The community is growing and here’s one way I can think of to do contribute to the project - I think Chisel can be extremely powerful for the Parse Server community.
How it’ll Work
We would build a lightweight client application, using React, that could be easily installed via npm.
npm install -g chisel
It can be initialised with your parse-server credentials:
chisel --appId 123456789 --masterKey 123456789 --serverURL "http://localhost:1337/parse"
or for a remote Parse Server instance:
chisel --appId 123456789 --masterKey 123456789 --serverURL "http://parse.beach.io/parse"
You could feasibly build this Chisel app to static and host it on a service, like our own Forge.
Potentially, it could be installed as express middleware on your Node / Express app.
For those that don’t need all the Developer options, we can provide a one-click install, hosted / managed service.
What does this get me?
Out of the box, Chisel enables:
- Beautiful, fast UI for quickly defining your custom content Models
- A place for content editors to write and enjoy creating new content
- JSON REST API output for your content, to be read or managed
- Access to content via Parse Server Client SDK’s - JS, iOS, Android, PHP, Ruby
- Ability to self host everything
- Ability to run locally and offline
- Run multiple sites from a single Chisel instance
- Multiple users with different roles, like admins, editors etc.
- Helpful field types, like Slugs, Dropdowns, URLs, Images, References to other content entries.
- Easily deployed on fast, reliable static hosting
In the near term, we will integrate Chisel into Hammer in a similar, but much more considered way than we have with Contentful and Cockpit.
Chisel should be useable within all static site generators too, including but not limited to Jekyll, Middleman, Hugo etc.
We’ve made a good start on the development, mostly thanks to the work of @Nessi and @Tumasov.
Check out these screenshots…
A good ol’ login screen… nuff said
You can see a Demo here
Login: editor / editor
I’d love for you to try it and let me know what you think in this thread. Bear in mind, this isn’t an official release, it’s a preview of an early work in progress.