Extra bits and bobs around the new WordPress.com Calypso project

Phew, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind couple of days, and I don’t work at Automattic. The Calypso project sparked a lot of conversation, and confusion. Calypso is the name of the effort, but the result was the WordPress.com revamp of editing tools, both for web and the new desktop app.

I interviewed Matt Mullenweg this afternoon, and that should be up tomorrow for the podcast. We talk more in-depth about Calypso, and I had to ask few non Calypso questions too, as it was my first ever audio interview with Matt.

If you haven’t already gathered, the Calypso codebase is a primarily JavaScript project that completely revamps all WordPress admin-esque tasks, within the WordPress.com ecosystem, but also is enabled for Jetpack-powered websites. That codebase is extended within a Mac app.

Framework wise, a bunch of stuff is new work from Automattic, but it’s very React heavy, runs on Node.js, and native stuff is done with Electron (most famously in use on the Atom editor).

I thought it’d be fun to share a few of the more interesting links about the project I’ve gathered:

  • Amongst the fray, a new Discover WordPress curation site is alive. The Automattic editorial team — the same team behind Longreads — is working on Discover. I have high hopes for this project. Matt and I talked a bit about WordPress.com as a network versus platform today, and this is a good move toward engaging more of the network. But it’ll take smart promotion. Here’s their launch post.
  • Values for Calypso development. By the way, all Automattic development has moved to Github.
  • There are a slew of fancy React components that could be pretty easily lifted from Calypso and used independently.
  • I like what Beau Lebens said about the project, from an Automattic developer perspective. I especially found his note enlightening, regarding a change of thinking, “from being very “plugin-oriented” (similar to WP-core) to a much more integrated and cohesive way of thinking of things across the web and mobile apps.”
  • Om Malik says, “in the past WP hadn’t done a good job of building the real-time experience that we as modern web customers have come to expect.”
  • I mean, literally everyone messed up the difference between WordPress and WordPress.com on this announcement. Everyone. Including the creators of very popular software products, and at least one Automattic board member. I don’t know why it felt so much worse this time around. Anyway, to make myself feel better, I asked my five month old son to explain the difference and he did a great job.

The underlying work done in the Calypso project is really cool. I think it’s going to be really beneficial for Automattic and the WordPress.com product, and will end up being good for the broader WordPress ecosystem too. I like what Matt Terenzio said in a private news nerds Slack I’m part of:

I’d bet the move is not driven by the needs of the .org community so much but rather that WordPress.com wants to be more read/write/social to continue to grow and compete. That might ultimately be good for everyone even though it wasn’t done with the traditional blog/cms user in mind.

I think he’s right.

Even if you think you have everything you need on Calypso, I hope you’ll check out the interview with Matt tomorrow. I think there is a good bit more to it, and I really tried to gear it toward topics Post Status members would be most interested in.

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