Developer Blog: Card UI

Cardstack’s composable design paradigm

Design Consistency

Cardstack’s decentralized user experience reimagines apps as cards: composable, interoperable pieces of functionality that draw upon shared design patterns.

This is about more than creating a pleasant interface. Cardstack’s architecture gives makers and designers the tools to assemble apps easily and get to a working product quickly.

For end users, Card UI means you can mix and match apps from the cloud and decentralized Internet — currently unheard of. This will be a vital feature for mass adoption for the Cardstack platform.

Development History

Card UI has been a cornerstone of founding director Chris Tse’s vision since Cardstack began in 2014.

Development of the Card UI design paradigm has been highly iterative. In fact, Cardstack-powered community management systems utilizing Card UI have been in use by large enterprises since 2015.

Our previous versions stuck to the playbook: we designed the platform first and then implemented the Card UI as a surface UX layer. Now, we’re making it easier for developers by inverting the typical approach to application design.

In this approach, a developer builds cards first, then Cardstack creates the structure of an application based on what cards are in it. So developers won’t need to create an entire application from scratch — they can custom design one or two cards, then the rest will be ready off-the-shelf.

Enter Card Space

The evolution of this design paradigm has lead us to the first use case of our own full-stack application built using Card UI, Card Space.

This forthcoming application — a token-powered content creation, curation, and syndication environment — will form a multi-publisher content network that can become the blockchain age’s WordPress, Associated Press, membership card press — all in one.

Our current work on Card UI focuses on how to lay out the structure of an individual card and bring many cards together into an application. In addition, we are designing the standards on sharing information about URLs and data requirements across cards.

We’ve also been at work building the first content types for Card Space that are tailor-made for the decentralized Internet. This will allow us to highlight Cardspace’s design consistency, no matter what the data source.

Card Flow

Cardspace will feature a GitHub-inspired workflow architecture, called Card Flow, which will allow for the composition of various cards in a linear workflow. For end users, Card Flow will enable open-source-style collaboration.

The clip above is a preview of how the Card Flow architecture allows for an intuitive transition between Cardspace and a linear messaging workflow. This reflects just a small part of the design and development work that we’ve begun.

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