API

WebDevStudios Dances the Calypso

Recently, Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com) released a pure JavaScript version of their website hosting and creation service in the form of a formidable desktop app called Calypso.

The new WordPress.com codebase moves WordPress away from MySQL and PHP. It’s built entirely in JavaScript, and communicates with WordPress.com only using a REST API. This means the new WordPress.com is a browser-based client for their API. Calypso uses a thin layer of Node.js on the server to build the initial web page, and much of the logic is run in the client as a Single Page Application (SPA) along with other web technologies.

Other services, like Twitter, run as web based applications that consume an API. Calypso is WordPress.com meeting its software brethren on the playing field. The thing to note here–and what makes WordPress different than Twitter–is that there is no self-hosted Twitter. WordPress.org will benefit significantly from its .com counterpart disrupting itself by going full JavaScript. The WP-API project is the catalyst that is pushing WordPress to be what WordPress would be if it was built today, casting off its shackles of backwards compatibility.

I’ve blogged about WP-API in the past. JSON APIs are paramount when it comes to WordPress software’s longevity. WP-API will be the same API Calypso consumes on WordPress.com when WP-API is fully merged into core WordPress and the team behind the .com API integrate the two together. Though you don’t have to wait until APIs are merged to use Calypso on self-hosted WordPress.org if you install the Jetpack plugin.

JavaScript Development

Matt Mullenweg was interviewed on Memeburn in 2013 and stated that future versions of the software would be largely JavaScript based:

Then, says Mullenweg, “we thought, well if we can do this on mobile, why can’t we do it on desktop too?” That’s why the current standard WordPress has far fewer functions than it used to. In the future, the platform will also feature a lot more JavaScript. In fact, he reckons that 90% of WordPress will be JavaScript-based within the next few years.

 Well, here we are two years later, and Matt has made his statement with Calypso; the line in the sand has been drawn. JavaScript is playing a huge part in WordPress going forward. If you are a WordPress developer, you could have made this assumption based on the inclusion of backbone to power some of the admin interfaces. Calypso, however, slams the lid open in regards to utilizing JavaScript as the main technology for WordPress development.

The greatest asset of building sites, apps, and services on top of a Rest API is the UI that displays the JSON data can be any you choose. At WebDevStudios, JavaScript plays a huge part in our daily work. We incorporate the lastest frameworks, bringing clients expections to reality using much of these frameworks daily:

  • jQuery
  • Backbone
  • React
  • Ionic
  • Angular
  • Underscores

WebDevStudios has been using WordPress as an application framework for years. For example, we developed the Y-MVP application for the YMCA of Greater New York. Y-MVP is a social fitness application powered by WordPress and BuddyPress. Y-MVP has been developed specifically for the iPad. Y-MVP was even mentioned by Matt Mullenweg in an interview suggesting the app as a perfect example of the future of WordPress.

WebDevStudios has been dancing the Calypso for years

DIY App Builder

WebDevStudios knows WordPress as an application framework. In fact, WebDevStudios is responsible for AppPresser.com and ReactorApps.io, two DIY options for turning your WordPress site and/or its content into mobile applications. If you run a WordPress based site and your budget doesn’t allow a custom app build, both of these tools can help you out. Both accomplish similar results but in different ways. If you have a custom WordPress site with lots of functionality you want to reuse in your app, then AppPresser is a good option. If you have mostly post/CPT data to display, think blog reader or displaying WooCommerce shop items, then check out Reactor. Reactor has a free trial and is pretty easy to set up through various screen options.

Custom Applications

As noted above, we are no strangers to custom app development. More and more clients want a companion app for their site. Did you know more people in the world only access the internet via a mobile device over desktop and the majority of that time is spent in apps? A lot of people choose WordPress to build their sites and services; it’s cost effective, battle tested, has a strong developer community, and is highly customizable. Now all that translates to web, desktop, and mobile applications thanks to the forthcoming Rest API.

Custom Apps Built on WordPress:

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download or play audio podcasts
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view pdfs and other resources
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latest content post list
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single post view
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app login screen
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single chat/message view
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latest content post list
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single post view

Future Now

We are in the passing zone of where WordPress based applications will be the prevailing strategy, much like Automattic has accomplished with Calypso. If you have been thinking about creating an application to support your WordPress based site or wish something custom, you’ll have to ask yourself: Will you dance the Calypso with us?

Image credit: femuruy

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