Looking for a design and coding tool for React? A new effort, Utopia, was released in alpha this week.
Developers with long memories will recall that Delphi did this (with great effect) for Windows applications, unlike the other rapid development tools at the time. There were also efforts to bring something similar to web development with tools like Macromedia's Dreamweaver, acquired by Adobe, or even Microsoft's FrontPage, easy to use but notorious for generating bad code and/or requiring server-side extensions.
"Utopia founder here. Yep, I loved the idea of FrontPage, and learnt so much, and yet - it sucked so much in practice," said Malte Nuhn in a discussion on Hacker News.
The idea of the project is that "it works with real code, in real projects", which enables prototypes built with actual React components rather than mocked up in Figma, and rapid visual design without compromising the code. "Whatever Utopia doesn't (yet) understand, it leaves as-is," claim the docs.
Utopia is open source and hosted on GitHub, under the MIT license. "The design tool is still quite early," according to the team. What about trying it out on your own PC? This is a matter of cloning the project and building it locally.
That said, the VS Code part of the resulting local web application is broken on our build. Our hunch is that some developers will be keen to get this working rather than coding entirely in the cloud.
The intention of the team, however, is that developers will use the hosted version and not have to worry about self-build.
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What is the business model? "The idea is to keep this free for single player mode ("earn your time, trust, and usage, not lock you in") and charge for features that align with financial value creation. Initially those will very likely be team focused - but our priority for the remainder of the year is squarely on single-player mode," Nuhn told me on Discord.
"Web standards are close to our heart… it's something we'll start to seriously look into once the product is a bit more mature," said Nuhn. "The same is true for other JS frameworks like Vue." ®