A few days ago, Sencha rolled out Sencha Architect 2, the major overhaul and rebranding of what was formerly Sencha Designer. You can check out the release blog post to get the low-down on all the new features.

When I saw the news about the release, I have to say I was a bit hesitant to look much further. I’ve tried Sencha Designer several times in the past, and I’ve been somewhat disappointed with it. Sure, it was great for laying out apps, but when you actually needed to *code*, it was lackluster at best. But even worse, I found it to be very buggy; it would crash at random times, and overall I found the process of trying to mockup an app to be more frustrating than anything else.

So initially, I wasn’t planning on even trying out the newest iteration. But then I noticed that one of the biggest additions to the product is  support for creating a full ExtJS or Touch app–not just the UI. I felt I had to take a closer look, and I’m glad I did.

UI

Out of the box, Architect 2 is worlds better than its previous iterations. The interface is slick and responsive, and the way the UI is organized makes the process of laying out and configuring components feel much more intuitive. One especially nice feature is that in the “Property” panel, you can toggle between commonly used configurations and the comprehensive list. Additionally, the configuration options are nicely grouped by inheritance, so you know precisely where your configs are being applied.

Application Flow

The coolest part of Architect 2 (to me) is that you can now *really* build applications with it. If you drink the MVC architecture Kool-Aid (and you should!), Architect 2 makes it very simple to build full-on applications.

For example, you can very simply choose to add controllers to your app. Within the controllers, you can customize handlers and custom methods to take care of the all of the business logic of your application.

Best Practices

But perhaps the best part of Architect 2 is that in the course of adding components, wiring up event handlers, and just fleshing out your app, you can instantly switch to “Code” view to see how the entire app is getting constructed behind the scenes. This gives a much welcome insight into “best practices” for developing ExtJS and Touch apps within the MVC architecture–a much desired feature that many devs have been begging for for quite a while.

I was happy to see that my methodology that was about 95% on point; however, the differences that I’ve noticed while reviewing the code have filled in some gaps in my understanding, which will simply make building ExtJS and Touch apps that much more fun :)

So…Will I Buy It?

At $399, the price tag for Sencha Architect 2 initially feels a little steep. Personally, I would not have paid that much for previous versions, purely based on my lackluster experiences during the trials. However, given how much more solid Architect 2 feels, and based on the fact that it is now geared toward full soup-to-nuts app development, I’ll have to seriously consider it.