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Breakdance Alpha 1 – Quick review

If you’re checking out this review, I’m sure you’ve heard of Oxygen Builder by Soflyy. Also, if you’re checking out this review, I’m sure you’ve heard that Soflyy has released an alpha version of their new page builder, named Breakdance.

And lemme tell you.. people are reaching for their pitchforks.

Background

So before we get into all that, let me explain MY situation, and MY development methods and habits.

  • If the site requirements would benefit from custom development, then I just build with underscores and ACF.
  • If the site is intended to be quickly developed, I turn to Oxygen Builder.
  • I like how I’m allowed php in Oxygen templates and code blocks. (And also how I can add css files directly in Oxygen)
  • I almost never buy addons. (I don’t think I have ever) I just figure out how to code things together myself.
  • I also style 99% of things in SASS, so I use very little builder settings.

Quick musing. I’ve seen people do this, but I’m not sure Oxygen can be shortened to O2. Are we sure it’s the molecule dioxygen (oxygen gas)? and not the element (with atomic number 8)? The logo shows one little circle around the O, which would normally suggest it being an electron (in the old Bohr model) but there’s only one electron in the outer shell. Oxygen has 6 electrons in the p shell (2+6), so that’s weird. But it doesn’t look like dioxygen either since it should be two circles smushed together. To me, it looks more like a hydrogen atom. That’s why I only refer to and shorten Oxygen Builder to “Oxy” and not O2. It doesn’t look correct.

Back to WordPress.

So you can see that simply put, I just use page builders as a time saving method, and since I develop off of client-approved design proofs, I style the frontend once the content is added in the structure.

The Purpose

Here’s what Breakdance is intended for from the Soflyy team directly:

Cool, so it’s an Elementor competitor. That’s great to hear for me, because I personally do not like Elementor’s UI or its code output.

I used to use Divi from v1.0 to v3.29, and it was very useful in laying the content out quickly and then going over everything with a fine tooth comb in SASS. Especially because the code output was consistent, predictable, and didn’t have 40 divs just to get to a paragraph.

That all changed for me when Divi 4 came out. I didn’t like it due to the many errors, and sluggish speed. So I went to Oxygen Builder.

That’s how I got my method of using either Oxy or Underscores.

Now that you have the context of where I’m coming from, I’ve made a video of me installing Breakdance and trying it out for the second time after I got an issue fixed.

My first installation was on localhost via MAMP, and I had installed WP in a subfolder. I had gotten errors for the template, so I posted in the Breakdance facebook group, and Louis sorted it out for me in 15 min. Wow.

I had this problem:

and here’s the solution from Louis.

So it turns out that there’s an Ajax request that’s being made to the root and since my WP was in a subfolder, it didn’t work. Louis said that he’ll add that to the list of updates on the next alpha release, and that I should use local by flywheel. I did notice that the demo video was made on local by flywheel, so I did give that a thought, but I just decided to do it on a dev server that I normally use online.

Everything works now!

The Video

So here’s the video of me going over Breakdance on a test server.

Note: I realized that I had missed going through the settings. It has a lot of good site-wide settings, though, so it’s pretty good.

Timestamps

  • 0:00 Intro + Breakdance background
  • 4:35 My development background
  • 8:20 Uploading the plugin
  • 10:30 Activating the plugin
  • 11:50 Templates and header
  • 13:20 Quick builder interface walkthrough
  • 15:00 Adding classes and IDs
  • 16:55 Some thoughts on the UI
  • 17:55 Adding modules
  • 19:00 Moving blocks
  • 19:45 More modules
  • 20:40 Trying out headers
  • 22:40 Trying out a new page (and some fumbling)
  • 25:40 Sections and columns on the page (slider, code block, forms)
  • 28:00 Whaaa… some sound+screen mismatching. Sorry..
  • 28:38 (..and we’re back in sync.) Inspecting the frontend code output
  • 31:15 The Breakdance website is built with Breakdance
  • 31:50 The blog module
  • 32:50 One major feature from Oxygen that I do miss
  • 34:30 My conclusion

First Impressions

It’s good! I like it!

I did have some trouble with templates, but I’m sure that can be figured out with more time later, so I just confirmed that the templates worked, and I moved on to the builder itself.

Simply put, it’s really great.

Better UI than the competition (Divi, Elementor) and the code output is the cleanest I’ve ever seen from a page builder.

Pros

  • A lot of modules.
  • Loads well.
  • Clean code output.
  • Templates can be made for every nook and cranny of a website.
  • The facebook group is very responsive with fixing errors.
  • More site wide features in the settings. (I talked about it in the first video I recorded that I had to scrap because I found the fix, but I missed mentioning it in this video)

Cons

  • No php template for post cards. – One of the main differentiating factors from Oxy. If you need highly customized post card layouts, then Oxy is the way to go. For the record, Oxy is the only page builder that does that. Which is also another reason why I like Oxy.
  • No documentation yet.

My Conclusion

Finally I have a great tool to lay out content much more quickly than the previous options I had. For me, Oxy was great for mixing php with a visual builder, and I liked it, but with Breakdance, I think I have a much quicker way of putting things together without the horrendous amount of bloat and sluggishness that comes with Divi or Elementor. Breakdance has the cleanest code I’ve seen from a page builder (including Gutenberg) so I’m very impressed and I’m excited for it to reach a proper full release.

Extra comments

I’ve seen a LOT of salty people whining on the Oxy group.

Although I do understand that they’ve been asking for “features” to be included in Oxy, and Breakdance seems to have some, I really don’t get it.

If the features in Breakdance are what you’ve been asking for, then just use Breakdance. It seems like the “features” are just simple cosmetic things, and not anything like advanced query builders or php templates (both of which Oxy already has), or anything. It’s just more modules and more styling of things. Then maybe trying to get a more barebones pro tool to have dozens of modules is not the right approach?

If you’ve already invested a lot in the ecosystem with addons, and don’t like the fact that you might have to start over: nobody is making you use Breakdance. It’s a different product. Soflyy has made it clear that Breakdance does not change any development plans for Oxygen. So there’s no problem.

I do concede that they did make a mistake in their marketing. They overestimated their audience to be more mature than it actually was. Yikes. Turns out a lot of Oxy bros just can’t calm down about things that don’t affect them.

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PK

Hi, I'm a front-end WordPress developer, and UI/UX designer living in Australia, and I made this website to share thoughts and tips about web design and everything related to it. If you want to work with me come check out my web development agency.

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