This week on WPwatercooler we will be discussing the new WordPress.com, the changed they recently did to it and how these changes work.
Show airs November 30 at 11am PDT / 2pm EDT / 7PM UTC
- Dance to Calypso | Matt Mullenweg
- Calypso, 24 Hours Later | Matt Mullenweg
- WordPress.com – A control panel for your desktop
- Welcome to the New WordPress.com and WordPress.com App for Mac — WordPress.com News
- The Story Behind the New WordPress.com | Developer Resources
You can also watch Matt Mullenweg on a few other podcasts where he talked about Calypso
- Gillmor Gang: More Gravy | TechCrunch
- Interview with Automattic CEO, Matt Mullenweg, on Calypso and more | Post Status
[Jason] – Hey, what’s up everyone, this is Jason Tucker and this is WPwatercooler, episode number 164. Today’s topic is the New WordPress.com. Let’s go around the room real quick and get everyone introduced. We have almost a full cast and crew here. We got nine folks. George, tell us a little about yourself.
[George] – Hi, my name is George Stephanis, I work on Core and I work at Automattic. I didn’t have that much to do with the new WordPress.com admin interface, but I’m a regular here, so I like to show up and shoot my mouth off, anyways. Also, Happy Blue Beanie Day, everybody.
[Steve] – A happy what?
[George]- Happy Blue Beanie Day for web standards.
[Steve] – I heard a Happy Belinia Day.
[Jason] – No, in other news.
[Russ] – I thought he was talking about alcohol and doing belinis.
[Se] – I don’t even know what you people are talking about.
[Jason] – Folks, we got nine people to get through, Jason Cosper, tell us about yourself.
[Cosper] – Hey, I’m Jason, I’m the developer advocate over at WP Engine, and I’ll let someone else go.
[Jason] – Awesome.
[Jason] – Kevin.
[Kevin] – I am Kevin, I am a designer at Automatic, and I did work on WP Calypso for the past 20 months or so.
[Se] – Oh my God.
[Kevin] – You’ll answer any questions, or if you hate it, then I’ll just log off or something.
[Steve] – Just like Kevin, act like there’s technical problems and just quit.
[Jason] – Yep, yep.
[Jason] – Sorry, you’re breaking up.
[Kevin] – Yeah, yeah, the microphone.
[Se] – I’ll just sign off right now.
[Steve] – What?
[Jason] – So tell us about yourself, Robert.
[Robert] – Oh, good, my name’s Robert Dall, I’m a WordPress designer in Vancouver, Canada, and I really need a haircut right now.
[Se] – That is relevant information.
[Jason] – Russ.
[George] – How is your dating life?
[Russ] – Hey, my name is Russ, lead organizer of WordCamp Vegas, and I feel like we took Apocalypse Now and the Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto and we put them together and made Calypso.
[Steve] – How long have you been working on that line?
[Russ] – All week.
[Russ] 30 seconds.
[Se] All week.
[Russ] – I have it up on a Google search right now, I can remember Apocalypto.
[Jason] – Scott, what about you?
[Scott] – My name is Scott Bolinger, I’m the co-founder of AppPresser. Yeah, and that’s all.
[Jason] – Awesome.
[Jason] – How about you Se?
[Se] – I’m just gonna talk for a long time, ’cause all these amazing people with these great credentials are just saying their names. So, I’m gonna take over. Just kidding. I’m Se, I do stuff with WordPress and I can’t wait to get to the topic, so, sh, sh, sh.
[Jason] – Sweet.
[Jason] – Steve, what about you?
[Steve] – I am Steve Zehngut, I am the founder of WOW, I am Steve Zehngut, I am the founder of zeek.com here, and I lead the OC WordPress meetup but I’m gonna turn it over to Matt Mullenweg.
[Se] – What, you missed your turn.
[Jason] – Tell us a little bit about yourself.
[Matt] – Hello, my name is Matt Mullenweg, I’m very excited to join you, even if it’s for a short period of time. I’m actually at the Core Committer Meetup right now, which is why I can’t stay for long. But, um, yeah. I’m excited to hear what you all are talking about and if there’s anything I can help with for the next 15 or 20 minutes, I’m happy to answer any questions you have.
[Steve] – Well, we’re excited to have you, thank you for coming.
[Jason] – Yeah, thank you, Matt.
[Russ] – Hey, Matt.
[Steve] – Hey Jason.
[Jason Tucker] – I’m Jason Tucker. You can find me, Jason Tucker, on Twitter, and I blog for wpmedia.pro, and jasontucker.us
[Russ] – Hey, Matt, can we get a better sound level from you, ’cause I’ve never heard you talking out of that tone before.
[Se] – Yes, I was thinking the exact opposite. I think Matt and Ira Glass should do a podcast together, and I’m just like, okay.
[Russ] – Matt, thank you for joining us.
[Se] – Russ, ’cause the rest of us are like, “What just happened?”
[Se] – Yeah.
[Se] – That’s good, so, all those thoughts we had prepared, just psssh, right out the window. Thanks, Matt, I appreciate that.
[Steve] – I contacted Matt last minute, so he found some time to jump on, so he was able to join us for a couple minutes here, and that’s awesome.
[Robert]- So I need to start.
[Steve] – Jason, what are you talking about.
[Steve] – Oh, sorry, go ahead.
[Robert] – I’ll start. So I was one of the people that, way back when, started on WordPress.com and eventually switched over to a self-hosted WordPress. And I had a short conversation with Se over Twitter some time ago that was, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are like psssh, dreams that diverge into different genres, but I also heard a really, really good quote in the news media about Automattic. And I thought, and I wanted to ask Matt how he felt about this, it’s like WordPress has a service, because really it’s still WordPress, but Automattic is really kind of taking WordPress and making it something that doesn’t even look like an actual WordPress install, but it’s still actually functioning as WordPress.
[Se] – I’m sure there’s a question there somewhere.
[Steve]- I was gonna ask the same question.
[Jason] – Question mark.
[Se] – Go, okay, you’re on. No, really, Robert, what was your question?
[Robert] – I wanted to ask Matt if he thought that was a good analogy. It’s like WordPress has a service because it really doesn’t look like WordPress as a self-install, but you guys have really made it your own. So, do you agree with that analogy?
[Matt] – Yeah, I think that it is WordPress as a service, but the important things, it’s important to look at what’s the same and what’s different. So, the things that are the same are some of the core concepts. So, conceptually, you can move from WPM into Calypso and understand kind of where things fits, right? Like things are roughly in the same place, same order, use a lot of the same words. Where it diverges is in places where we think it can help grow the audience of WordPress. So, folks like you, that maybe five years from now could be core contributors or things like that, like with an easier interface that’s more intuitive, and faster, and have some of these other features. We think it will bring a lot more people in the door.
[Se] – How do you envision transitioning, then , from WordPress.com to .org, as Robert was talking about, I was recently talking on Twitter about how different it is, I don’t really, I couldn’t even find the admin. I was like what’s even happening in here, so, I don’t understand how that’s transitioning. To me it just looks like it’s forking and going it’s own way. Is that not happening? Is it happening? I’m very confused.
[Se] So, Scott
[Steve] So, hang on a second.
[Steve] We skipped a step here, right? Just so our audience understands. For Matt, this is kind of for Matt and for Kevin. Kevin mentioned that you’ve been working on this for the past couple of years. What is this, right? What is Calypso, right?
– That is a good question, Steve.
[Kevin] – They have no idea what you’re talking about. We can understand it in terms of what Calypso has been for us until now. To me the key moment is the open sourcing moment, and where it’s going to go is sort of a partnership in my mind, so… the open sourcing of this, as I said, this is where we’ve taken it as a service that we think works in the service UI world, how that changes to fit self-hosted is sort of the future of both Calypso and WordPress.
[Se] – So, I don’t know if that was actually helpful, but that’s fine. Scott.
[Matt] – I’m gonna try to zoom out a little bit.
[Se] – Go for it, zoom out.
[Russ] – It’s kind of an easier away to manage all your sites from one spot, right?
[Matt] – Totally.
[Se] – And you’re going in that direction with– New WPi app. You’re going in that direction with the central management thing that was happening in Jetpack, right? Is that, those are kind of related, those are all one thing. I guess I’m more concerned, like, Scott, I wanted to ask you about this, you read a really amazing article on this whole thing coming from someone who makes apps, and takes WordPress and does the app stuff with it, kind of on the cutting edge of that. And I was really intrigued, because I build themes, that’s how I got into WordPress, you know, doing theme development. And this new switch is, well a lot of your articles talking about how themes are basically being kind of outdated, almost, or, you know, pushed passed. What do you see about that?
[Matt] – I mean, that could certainly happen, but you could have said that could have happened five or ten years ago, you know. I think that what has always served WordPress well is confluence and many things coming together. You know, we use the term ecosystem, and a lot of people misuse that term, but i think it’s 100% applicable in WordPress’s case, because it’s many elements, it’s themes, it’s plugins, it’s webhosts, it’s people implementing WordPress sites, it’s educators, it’s the people writing books, it’s people teaching WordPress in classes, all of this comes in a loop that each benefits each other. You know, why does every single thing in the world have like a WordPress integration and WordPress plugin? Because it’s the biggest. Why is it the biggest? Well, maybe because everything integrates with it, you know, it’s kind of, it’s a flywheel that serves it. And what we need to focus on is two things: one, how can we speed up that flywheel and keep it going, and two is what are the things that we can do to significantly change the adoption curve of WordPress among its various constituencies? I think that something like Calypso could open up and change the adoption curve of WordPress for people building blogs and websites. You know people sort of coming fresh to it that might not be developers. I think something like the REST API could cause developers that might have never considered WordPress before, because their front end was so coupled to the back end. So look and say, “Wow, this gives me a ton, “this gives me like an update framework, “or a plugin framework, these are authentication framework, “a way of storing users and passwords that’s very secure,” and say, “Wow, this actually, “I don’t need to recreate all that.” So starting with WordPress might get me, I can focus on the things that are really different about what I’m doing rather than, you know, if you’re just building from the ground up, or even using a framework like Symphony, you end up recreating the wheel 15 different ways.
[Se]- Your skill set, I have to learn a whole new language. Fun guys!
[Robert] – One of the things I’m actually kind of concerned about is that we put so much time and effort into making the WordPress admin experience so fluid and so and as good as it is, but yet, the, I see like a divergence and could we possibly have multiple different admin experiences with this WordPress API. I’m just playing devil’s advocate here.
[Se] – And that’s what everyone seems to be so quiet about.
[Steve] How does that affect me?
[Se] Yeah, isn’t that everyone’s like “Woo hoo,” custom everything.
[Robert] – And then your point WordPress, because it’s a different admin.
[George] – No, WordPress is WordPress, you’re just using a slightly different screen to administrate it. I mean, let’s face it, when you’re going down one path so long and you keep optimizing and optimizing and optimizing, occasionally you can get a bit of tunnel vision not really considering is there an alternate way that might be better. So, when you’re trying to manage and administrate multiple sites at once, Calypso was built with that expectation from the ground up. So consider it a second path, a challenger, that in the end may win, may lose, but it’s a different path now taken. And being developed in parallel, I think both sides are definitely going to gain from it.
[Se] – That’s super forked up. I actually wanted to say that.
[Matt] – It’s an amazing estimate to what we’ve also created over the past 13 years with WP admin, that it took a lot of work to get to where we are now, which is about 80% of the way there. So it’s not trivial to recreate WP admin. I don’t know if I’d recommend it. Now, hopefully what we’ll do is a more modular approach, so people can customize a little bit more, while still maintaining some of the commonality that makes WordPress, you know, once you learn it once, it kind of works everywhere. But there is the reality that plugins customize admins quite a bit already. So, if you’re using like advance custom fields or some of these other things like, you’re essentially using a pretty customized admin of WordPress already.
[Steve] – And, I mean, that’s a good thing because that’s really a part of WordPress’s ultimate evolution, right? ‘Cause not all sites are created equally, not all clients are created equally, everybody uses WordPress nowadays for a different purpose, right? So it really is a different platform now.
[Matt] – I think what we have to be careful about is not allowing that plurality to be almost like a siren song that doesn’t force us to make hard decisions and try to see what is the best for most people. So we still need to be, we still need decisions and options. This is just sort of a different path where we’re, basically it’s an experiment. We’re seeing like in this both different technical architecture and with some different user interfaces, whether we can provide something that’s a lot more compelling. And you know what? If it is a lot more compelling, we can use that data to both either evolve WP admin, or perhaps adopt Calypso wholesale. I mean that’s why we open sourced it, because it’s really it’s part of the community. It’s not meant to be in competition. It’s meant to be like, “Hey, here’s a different way “of trying things, let’s see how it goes.”
[Robert] – So are you saying, then, IP6 was a bit of an experiment, and you’re saying Calypso is a bit of an experiment as well. MP6, my apologies, George.
[Matt] – He said, “IP6” like wow.
[Steve] – You don’t know about it Matt.
[Robert] – So are you saying that they are along the same vein, that MP6 was… integrated completely in the core after it was thoroughly tested out, are you saying that’s a possibility with Calypso at all?
[Matt] – Yeah, the code’s open source, so it’s completely compatible with WordPress. There’s nothing that says we couldn’t point people to it or include it in a download or anything, it’s completely compatible, so. I think what MP6 taught everyone involved with it, certainly me, was that some of the, it was an iteration, right, but the time it took that iteration and the difficulty of getting it integrated was too long, was too hard. As even with myself involved and many other like amazing designers and folks like. And so, this also provides an alternative development path that I think we can iterate faster on. Already internally there’s been, and for some of the screens, dozens of versions. Like this editor that you’re seeing in Calypso. It’s kind of like the third or fourth major, major swing at it. And maybe the past 18 months or two years, including one, which never even saw the light of day. Like one that had eight to ten people working on it for a year and a half that we never even released, because it never quite worked out.
[Se] – How did, who–
[Russ] – Hey, Matt, real quick, does WP VIP use the new interface or is it still like a regular intact, And I was just wondering if this gets into hosting, like, does this start impacting that? Maybe Cosper can get in on this.
[Matt] – So, WordPress VIP users can use Calypso. Now, they run into a version of what, I think, the larger WordPress community is going to run into, that some of them have customized work flows or customized WP admin. So, whether that’s either maybe something built into WordPress that Calypso doesn’t support yet, or something that a plugin has modified. So there’s no plugins in Calypso yet. So that’s something we still have to figure out, how they can create, perhaps, this customized use case. Maybe it’s like an extra, maybe they manually choose related posts or something like that. Like, how does that work in a sort of API different world?
[Se] – Scott, you were talking about, in your article, about that, about how the API is really jumping kind of over plugins somehow. Can you talk to that point a little bit?
[Scott] – Not over plugins, but I see when apps are completely disconnected from WordPress, like, for example, if you, this app was built in React, it’s connecting to WordPress through an API, it can connect to plugins, but the way that it connects to those plugins is completely different than the way those plugins work now. So what a lot of plugin offers are going to have to do is they’re gonna have to build ways for, they’re gonna have to support WP API, which is separate from the WordPress.com API, but I won’t get into that.
– Thank you.
[Se] – Basically, this just took an entire and opened up an entire new area for developers to jump in and make products, right? Like this is just a whole empty space that’s about to get rushed by, hopefully, everybody.
[Steve] – Rushed?
[Se] – That’s what everyone was really excited about. Last year we were at Camp San Francisco, we did at Community Day, that’s all anyone was talking about was that UPI and it’s really exciting, I think, to see it in implementation now. And I think next year at this time for Road Camp U.S. 2, we’re gonna be like in a different world. Because there’s no way this can’t impact dot org. It’s impacting the plugins, impacting the themes, If everyone starts expecting an interface like Calypso, or what is on WordPress.com right now, which is completely different, then we’re dealing with two totally different sets of expectations for different users. And that’s gonna change, like, really fast, I think. It’s gonna have to or it’s just gonna split.
[George]- Oh, God, no.
[Russ] – Jason, Tucker for the win!
– But when I do.
– There you go.
– Just saying.
[Russ] – A Calypso customizer, wow, you went there, my friend.
[Geprge] – As we ship API-driven development, the clients can suddenly no longer need to be written in PHP, they can be written in Python, they can be written in Java, or whatever you want, and so we are no longer forcing folks to migrate to PHP, if they have to be a code stop that wants to write something and go.
[Russ] – Yeah, but I kind of like a, I like in code base where you can or you have to define things and be very accurate. I don’t like Python ’cause you can be very sloppy and still get away with things.
[George] – Because that’s totally not PHP
[Russ] – Still PHP is a little more stable than Python, I think.
[George] – The reaction has been very welcoming when the announcement came out there, they were thrilled to see it getting embraced and trade with something like WordPress.
[Cosper] – Yeah, I actually had a lot of conversations at LoopConf, there was an angular conference going on there at the same time. And a lot of people were really excited when they realized that, like, we were even going to be shipping REST API in WordPress, like that was coming down the pipe, they were just like, “Oh you mean I don’t have to worry “about building an admin or anything like that, “I can just hook into it with the API.” I think it’s really gonna open things up for developers who may have not given WordPress a first glance.
[Se] – And I think this actually solidifies what I’ve been teaching my various clients for the past couple of years, that WordPress is now like fully and FDI, which means Fancy Data Inputter. It’s really, it’s really what it is, and I think we should all just start calling it that from now on. It’s an FDI.
[Kevin] – Every application is that, whether it’s Twitter or…
[Scott] – I think one of the things we’re gonna have to do with WordPress is tell people, “Wow.”
[Se] – Shut up, Scott.
[Steve] – Go ahead, Scott.
[Scott]- Start telling people why WordPress is good with apps, why it works well with apps, you know, why it’s different than what it was before. We’re gonna have to do a lot of education and evangelizing and people like communities outside of WordPress and stuff, so that they realize that this is a cool way to do stuff, and why it’s different and better.
[Steve] – Well, and I think an important new feature that’s coming in 4.4 is the addition of the REST API. I think that, I think, I’m really excited about that. Scott and I have talked about this a lot, you know, I’ve been building apps on top of WordPress for years as well. This is a big announcement and a big feature that’s coming in 4.4.
[Cosper]- Well, the API plumbing is coming. The end points aren’t coming until 4.5
[Steve] – I understand that it’s baby steps, so I get that, but it’s still a big deal.
[Scott] – Yeah, it’s definitely for sure happening very soon. So, next year.
[Se] – Do you collectively, and I guess Matt really envisioned the existing dot org code base, like being upgraded like this over the next year or two, or is it just gonna continue with its backwards compatibility PHP happiness, I like PHP, it’s okay.
[Matt] – I love PHP.
[Steve] – What’s the matter with PHP?
[Se] – I don’t know, everyone seems to be leaving, I’m like what’s wrong with the PHP party?
[Steve] – PHP is the top used server language by far.
[Steve] – Whoa.
[Jason] – George’s beard, sorry about that.
[Steve] – Matt, go ahead, Matt
[Cosper] – So, a quick question, I know we’re almost running out of time, but, how do we keep people engaged in writing stuff for WP admin when we have this exciting new thing in Calypso?
[Russ] – Good question.
[Matt] – Well, luckily WP admin has tens of millions of active users. So it’s where the people are. It’s like, why do you rob the bank? That’s where the money is. You write things for WP admin, ’cause it’s where the people are today.
[Steve] – Good analogy.
[Robert] – Because it’s almost like WP admin and Calypso is almost like a you’re driving a car with the steering wheel on the left, and then you’re driving a car with the steering wheel on the right, and you’re like, “Oh my God, I have no idea what I’m doing. “I’m driving this car which I don’t know how to drive, “but on the completely wrong side of the road.”
[Jason] – But the radio is still in the middle, so that’s all that matters
[Jason] – And on that note, that’s it, folks. Thank you very much for being on the show, Matt. Thank you very much for stopping by and hanging out with us at the last minute. I appreciate that. Make sure you go to our website WPwatercooler.com click on the links there and subscribe to us, also on social media as well as on YouTube. Thank you, guys, talk to you later.
[Se] – See you in Philly.
[Steve] – All right, here.
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Editor’s Note: Transcriptions of episodes are created with a mix of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain some grammatical errors or slight deviations from the audio.