Is ABO AutoBackOffice an alternative to PHPMaker?PHPMaker is a great product, feature-rich and, with the latest version, it improved the mobile rendering a lot.
How it compares with ABO? We think that we are targeting two different kind of users: ABO for sure misses a lot of advanced features of PHPMaker, but on the other hand, in our opinion it gives you only the most used features, with a lot of advantages. Let's see them.
1) It takes ABO 30 seconds to be installed. It takes literally hours to properly install PHPMaker, and it's not an easy process even for an intermediate coder
2) If you modify a single detail of your backoffice, with ABO you simply press "Refresh DB" and it's done. Nothing more to do. The client is automatically updated. In PHPMaker, you must recompile your project and upload it again. It's a process that could take many minutes, hours in the most complicated cases. And while this can be somehow accepted in a final project, when you are still debugging it, it's frustrating. It's frustrating to configure PHPMaker (and it takes a long time), compile, upload, only to find out later that you forgot to specify a "view" for a specific field, so... You must go back to recompile and upload and check again!
3) ABO lets you produce a professional-looking documentation without writing anything else, with a nice home page, a footer, an English description of ALL the tables and ALL the fields, plus a second part with technical details of the DB. It's smart enough to fill the dots, so to speak. So, if you put a comment in a field, it will use it. Otherwise it will try to print, in plain English, as much information as possible. For example, if your field is an ENUM('Yes','No'), ABO will write in the documentation that the user must select one of two choices, "yes" or "no". If, for example, the field is a VARCHAR(5) it will say that the user can enter an alphanumeric string with up to 5 characters. If the edit mode is "upload" and there is a fixed width/height, it will describe the field as an image upload with the minimum size as specified in width/height and so on... Then you can print the documentation and give it to the customer: it's a plus, that comes with ABO and gives your product an advantage over your competitors.
4) ABO tries to automate a lot of repetitive tasks. For example, let's say you have 10 fields for 10 pictures in a table. Every picture should be viewed as a small image, when edited the user should be able to upload it, with a minimum width of 300. Now, you have to specify these parameters for ALL the 10 images. ABO lets you "copy the format" and "paste it" over all the fields you want. We have a video about it, in our tutorials, please have a look. As far as we know, this feature is only available in ABO.