In my last note, I started talking about the plugin awareness stuff in Calypso and it morphed into a more broad editorial about Automattic's relationship with the WordPress community. But what does plugin awareness really mean in Calypso?
After getting word of the email Andy Peatling sent to plugin authors with more than a million installs, I talked to him about what exactly they are seeking to add to Calypso from these plugins.
Right now, they are starting with options and settings on pages the plugins create within the WordPress admin. Andy says, “as we understand the needs better this could expand.”
So, as an example, let's use Yoast SEO. Right now, Yoast SEO has its own tab in the admin, with ten or so sub-navigation items. Many of those are themselves tabbed interfaces. Basically, that's a whole lot of options that would be accessible via the Calypso admin.
It appears that the awareness will not extend to custom metaboxes or other tools outside of the administrative area, for now. However, I would assume that metaboxes would be an important part of the integration, sooner than later. Just consider Yoast SEO's meta description metabox, or WooCommerce's product metabox. Calypso won't be very “aware” if the user can't utilize that functionality.
It seems like this is a pretty new idea, and it'll likely be some time before we actually see complex plugins inside the Calypso interface.
Also, this awareness does not mean the plugins will now be available for WordPress.com sites — it's only for Jetpack enabled websites, unless the plugin is already whitelisted and in use for .com.