Hi There and welcome back!

In the last lesson, you learned about what BuildFire is, the Control Panel, the difference between Core Features verses Marketplace Features, and how to preview your app.

In this lesson, we’ll take a closer look the core components of the Control Panel that you’ll use to both build and manage your app.

When you first signed up, you either started with a template or you had our awesome Pro Services team design and construct your app for you.

If you’re building your app yourself and would like for our Pro Services team to either design your app or build completely custom features for it, click here to get in touch with them.

As I mentioned in our last lesson, if you’re building the app yourself, the templates will provide you with an awesome starting point so that you can simply swap out your content and have a ready-to-launch app.

Control Panel Core Components

First, let’s take a look at some of the Control Panel’s core components that you’ll find in the primary menu on the left side.

Design

The Design section is where you have control over… you guessed it, the design of your app. In it, you’ll see the following components:

Branding

This is where you can:

  • Upload your app icon and loading screens
  • Change your app’s font
  • Change your app’s color theme

The Side Menu

This is where you select which marketplace features (also known as plugins) you can make accessible to your users through your app’s side menu.

The Footer Menu

If you’d like to include a bottom navigation bar to your app either in conjunction with or instead of the side menu, you can do so here by adding action items such as linking to specific marketplace features, calling a phone number, sending an email, and more with the action builder.

The Media Library

High quality images are a critical part of making your app stand out and elevating your brand perception. The Media Library is an amazing tool to help you accomplish this.

You can access the Media Library in the left side menu of the Control Panel and by triggering it throughout the Control Panel by clicking on a component that will require an image such as image carousels, list images, and background images.

With the Media Library, you can:

  • Upload images once and use them anywhere in your app. When you upload images, the system will automatically compress them for you based on your layout and for optimal loading times across various devices.
  • Choose from a selection of our Stock Images, which are thousands of high quality photos from professional photographers around the world, all ready to use and pre-licensed for both personal and commercial use.
  • Edit your images right within the Media Library to add text, cropping, color enhancements, and more so you don’t have to mess around with transferring images between programs.

The Home Screen

The Home Plugin is exactly what you’d imagine — it’s the plugin that users will see when they first open your app.

We suggest using something like a Folder, but you can you can technically set this to be any marketplace feature you’d like. 

There are two ways you can select which feature you’d like to set as your Home Screen:

Method 1

  • Click on “Home Screen” in the left menu
  • Then click the search icon
  • Then find the feature you want to use and select it

Method 2

  • Navigate to a plugin either through the emulator or through the “My Feature” section in the left hand menu
  • Then click the hamburger icon in the top right of the feature’s editor
  • Then select “Set as Home Plugin”

The Marketplace

As I mentioned before, the Marketplace is where you’ll find a variety of features you can add to your app.

Developers from around the world (including you) are able to submit and sell plugins through the marketplace, thus creating an ecosystem of solutions and possibilities.

To access the Marketplace, simply click Features >> Marketplace. 

As I mentioned in our last lesson, the vast majority of Marketplace features allow you to create multiple instances. So, for example, if you have more than one calendar, you can create multiple Event instances. If you have multiple music albums or lecture collections, you can create multiple Media Center Manual instances. If you have different categories for your blog, you can create multiple Media Center RSS instances.

… I think you get the idea.

You can then make these features accessible by either adding them to a folder, the side menu, or the footer menu.

Advanced Core Features

The next set of core features are advanced features that take your app to the next level by making it more engaging and giving you more control. In order to unlock them, simply click upgrade and choose whichever plan works best for you.

Commerce

This is where you can set up In App Purchases, which will enable you to increase your revenue by selling exclusive content to your users.

Push Notifications

Push Notifications are an amazing way to communicate instantly to your audience.

With our targeted Push Notifications, you’ll be able to send your message to the right people at the right time. You can create groups (or channels) to which users can subscribe (for example, those that want to hear about your product updates), or you can select an individual person or a targeted segment of people based on custom parameters (for example, you can send a message to Eric, to your VIP members, or to your staff).

We’ve created a dedicated Push Notification Tutorial here.

User Tagging and Management

User tagging and management is a great way to perform some advanced, engaging actions. With it, for example, you can send target push notifications and, with the security settings, restrict certain parts of your app to specific users.

It’s also a great way to get to know your users. For example, you can automatically tag users when they enter specific plugins. You can then see how many times they’ve accessed that feature. 

We’ve created a dedicated User Tagging and Management tutorial here.

Analytics

Analytics give you wonderful insights on an app level such as how many downloads and registered users you have, and also lets you measure your push notification effectiveness.

With Segment integration, you can really take it a step further to see where your users are spending their time in your app, how many sessions they’re engaging in, and more.

Now that you know what the core features are, in the next lesson we’ll talk about the common standardized components you’ll find throughout the control panel when you’re building that will help to streamline your experience.

I’ll see you there!

Let’s build something great together.

On-Boarding Lessons

  1. Welcome to BuildFire / Introduction
  2. How to Build Your App (Core Features)
  3. How to Build Your App (Common Standardized Components)
  4. How to Publish Your App
  5. What to Do Once Your App is Live

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