A lot of developers I’ve spoken to really enjoy working with the data layer of web apps, but wish they never had to touch UI code. If you’re one of those developers, Wix might actually be an excellent fit for your dev stack.

Wait, you mean THAT Wix?

If you thought Wix was only for no-code sites, you’re not alone. Up until the team at Wix hit me up and asked if I’d be interested in trying out their developer tools, I thought the same thing.

Wix Studio, which Wix describes as “a new end-to-end web creation platform for freelancers and agencies”, gives us access to a new tools and a library of developer APIs that let us handle the backend of our client sites while letting our clients continue managing their site’s look and feel in a visual, no-code interface.

What does Wix Studio offer developers?

When I started looking through the developer-focused tools Wix Studio offers, two things caught my eye:

  1. There’s a VS Code-based Wix IDE that lets you work on you Wix site code in a familiar interface (if you’re a VS Code user).
  2. There’s a set of APIs called Velo that provides JavaScript APIs for modifying Wix element data, handling animation, auth, and all sorts of other advanced controls I wasn’t expecting to see.

I’m not going to get into all the details during this build, so if you’re interested go hit up their docs to see all the things you’re able to do.

What we’ll cover in this tutorial is a first look at how a developer can manage the data layer of a client’s Wix site using an IDE and APIs that are familiar and surprisingly nice to work with.

To get started, we need a Wix site we can add custom code to. For my demo, I created a new site with the “start from a blank canvas” option, then added a Pro Gallery element to the page.

That’s really all we need. You can play with it a bit, but really the point here is that we don’t need to worry about what it looks like. The client will do whatever they want to on the presentation side; we only need to worry about getting the right image data into the gallery.

the Pro Gallery component displayed in Wix Studio's

The Pro Gallery element is the only bit of editing in the Wix UI for this tutorial.

Enable the Wix Studio developer tools

To get started with coding, click the curly bois ({}) in the left-hand nav and click the “Start Coding” button.

Code tab in Wix Studio on first use showing a confirmation for enabling dev

The first time you use the code tools, Wix Studio asks for an opt in.

This opens up the Wix Studio code tools, which are fine, but what I really want is that VS Code-based IDE — so click the “Code in Wix IDE” button at the top of the Page Code section.

the code tab in Wix Studio with a link to "Code in Wix IDE" shown at the top
of the

The “Code in Wix IDE” link is at the top of the code pane.

This opens the familiar VS Code UI right in the browser, which is pretty slick.

Wix IDE's home screen in the

Now that we’ve got a site and we’re in the Wix IDE, let’s use the Wix Editor Elements Velo API to tell the page which images should be displayed in the gallery.

In the explorer, go into the src/pages/ directory and look for the file called Home with a random-looking suffix and a .js extension. In my site, the file is src/pages/Home.c1dmp.js.

Inside, replace the contents with the following code:

// docs: https://www.wix.com/velo/reference/$w/gallery
$w.onReady(function () {
// @ts-expect-error known issue where IFrame type is inferred incorrectly
$w('#gallery1').items = [
type: 'image',
title: 'Yellow Tracksuit',
description: 'Photo by Dom Hill',
alt: 'woman in yellow tracksuit standing on basketball court side',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1515886657613-9f3515b0c78f?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8Mnx8ZmFzaGlvbnxlbnwwfHwwfHx8MA%3D%3D&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/nimElTcTNyY',
type: 'image',
title: 'Striped V-Neck Tee',
description: 'Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde',
alt: 'black haired man making face',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1463453091185-61582044d556?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8N3x8YmxhY2slMjBtYW58ZW58MHwwfDB8fHww&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/sibVwORYqs0',
type: 'image',
title: 'Coral Blouse',
description: 'Photo by Eye for Ebony',
alt: 'woman standing in front of red brick wall',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1502764613149-7f1d229e230f?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8MTF8fGJsYWNrJTIwd29tYW58ZW58MHwwfDB8fHww&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/OExQjtxbIpE',
type: 'image',
title: 'Pinstripe Parachute Pants',
description: 'Photo by Ahmed Carter',
alt: 'posing woman in white sleeveless top',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1509631179647-0177331693ae?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8MTR8fGZhc2hpb258ZW58MHx8MHx8fDA%3D&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/posing-woman-in-white-sleeveless-top-tiWcNvpQF4E',
type: 'image',
title: 'White Dress',
description: 'Photo by Vladimir Yelizarov',
alt: 'woman in white dress sitting on white textile',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1617551307578-7f5160d6615e?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8MTh8fGJsYWNrJTIwd29tYW58ZW58MHwwfDB8fHww&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/PfbItsR8Gqo',
type: 'image',
title: 'Wool Overcoat',
description: 'Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău',
alt: 'woman holding brown leather bag in bokeh photography',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1485968579580-b6d095142e6e?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8MzF8fGZhc2hpb258ZW58MHx8MHx8fDA%3D&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/juESZxMhtXk',
type: 'image',
title: 'Gray Jumper',
description: 'Photo by Judeus Samson',
alt: 'woman standing in the middle of the road',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1545291730-faff8ca1d4b0?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8MjR8fGZhc2hpb258ZW58MHx8MHx8fDA%3D&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/0UECcInuCR4',
type: 'image',
title: 'Leather Jacket',
description: 'Photo by Dami Adebayo',
alt: 'man in brown leather coat',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1487222477894-8943e31ef7b2?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8Mjh8fGZhc2hpb258ZW58MHx8MHx8fDA%3D&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/k6aQzmIbR1s',
type: 'image',
title: 'Wool Sweater',
description: 'Photo by Maia Habegger',
alt: 'woman wearing brown sweater standing on forest',
src: 'https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1520508358701-63027028d924?ixlib=rb-4.0.3&ixid=M3wxMjA3fDB8MHxzZWFyY2h8M3x8d29tYW4lMjBzd2VhdGVyfGVufDB8MHwwfHx8MA%3D%3D&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1200&q=60',
link: 'https://unsplash.com/photos/mAg7Dz1IQQU',

If you’ve ever used jQuery or the browser’s built-in querySelector API, this might look familiar.

The $w() function accepts a CSS selector as an argument, and in the Wix IDE the available elements will autocomplete once you type the quotes. Every Wix element automatically gets an ID that matches its type, so if you create your first gallery element, the ID will be #gallery1.

After selecting the gallery, we can set the items to be displayed by providing an array to the .items property.

Each item in the array is an object containing either image or video information. In this example we’re only providing images.

The nice thing about this API is that there’s barely any code required to insert our images — nearly all of this code is the image data itself.

See the custom-coded images in the site

To test that the images are loading as expected, go back to the Wix Studio and click the eye icon at the very top right of the UI, next to the “Publish” button.

preview of the Wix site showing custom-coded images in the

Assuming you used the same images from the code sample above, your gallery will look similar to the one in the screenshot above. (The specific layout will depend on options you selected for the gallery element.)

With that, you’ve successfully custom coded images into your client’s Wix site. They can change all the settings, move the layout around, and whatever else they want to do, and you as the developer only need to worry about setting this one call to $w() up.

Going beyond hard-coded images

You’re not limited to hard-coded image data, either — you can grab images from any API and display them in your Wix gallery elements.

For example, here’s how you would display a list of corgi images from the Dog API using the web standard Fetch API:

// docs: https://www.wix.com/velo/reference/$w/gallery
$w.onReady(async function () {
const res = await fetch('https://dog.ceo/api/breed/corgi/images');
if (!res.ok) {
console.error('something went wrong loading the images');
const data = await res.json();
const images = data.message.map((image, i) => {
return {
type: 'image',
title: `Corgi ${i}`,
description: 'Images from the Dog API',
alt: 'a corgi',
src: image,
link: 'https://dog.ceo/dog-api/documentation/breed',
// @ts-expect-error known issue where IFrame type is inferred incorrectly
$w('#gallery1').items = images;

After saving, preview the site to see the gallery images update.

the image gallery showing photos of

No-code for clients doesn’t mean no-code for devs

We only looked at a single workflow in this tutorial, but the fact that we can work in a VS Code-based IDE, with autocomplete and a familiar, selector-based API, is a welcome surprise to devs like me who thought choosing Wix mean it was impossible to make code changes to client sites.

And, for those devs who never want to touch the design parts of web dev, Wix might actually be a welcome addition to the way they work with clients.

Resources & Further Reading