260 – Big Updates from WordPress.com
Is there a plugin for that?
With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.
For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.
Google Apps Login Simple secure login and user management for WordPress through your Google Apps domain (uses secure OAuth2, and MFA if enabled)
Big Updates from WordPress.com
The New WordPress.com
A single interface to manage all your WordPress.com or Jetpack-enabled sites, built with the latest web technologies and used by millions of people — and now it’s open source.
Full TranscriptBusiness Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.
On today’s episode, we are going to talk about the big news that came out in the WordPress space yesterday about the updates on WordPress.com in a new WordPress app for your Mac, right here on Your Website Engineer Podcast, Episode No. 260.
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Your Website Engineer Podcast. My name is Dustin, and today we are going to be talking about the big news that came out of WordPress yesterday – or the news that came from Automatic. We’ll get to that in just a second. Instead of doing the news at the top of the show, we’ll actually dive right in and look at the plugin section, and then we’ll go into the news, and that will cover the entire aspect of the show today.
So, the first thing that I wanted to share is the, “Is there a plugin for that?” And in case you are new to the show, or not really familiar with what plugins are, plugins are essentially something that extends the ability for WordPress to do things out of the box. So, out of the box, it’s very difficult to sell something in an ecommerce store without a plugin. It’s very hard to back up a website with a plugin. So, right now, as we record this, there are 41,443 plugins, and there’s been over one billion total downloads for these plugins over the course of the Plugin Repository.
Today, we’re going to be highlighting Google Apps Log in, and there’s a link to this in the show notes for Episode No. 260. But basically, this is a simple, secure log in, and user management for WordPress through the Google Apps Domain. And so, basically what this is is it allows you to use your Google Apps Log in to get into your WordPress site. This is kind of a neat idea, and gives you another option to be able to allow people to log in.
Say, for example, that you have a company that everybody has a Google Apps account, and you want them to be able to get in to be editors for your WordPress site, or maybe their manager site, or whatever. Instead of giving them additional log in information that they have to manage and keep updated, and all that kind of stuff, you could use those Google Apps log ins, and then they could log in with their Google Apps account from work, and then they could get in and they could start working that way.
So, that’s what this plugin does, and if you are interested in that sort of functionality, I definitely recommend checking out Google Apps Log in, and it’s in the WordPress Repository.
All right, so yesterday, a big news came out of Automatic’s space, and we’re talking about the new WordPress.com. And it is a single interface to manage all of your WordPress.com or Jetpack enabled sites, and you can – it’s built with the latest web technology, and it’s been worked on for the last 18 or 20 months. Yeah, this is something that we’ve been focusing a lot of time, effort, and energy on from the Automatic side of things, and finally I’m allowed to talk about it because the embargo has been lifted, and we are allowed to tell the world about this. And it is really cool, and it’s really, really exciting.
Now, in the past, you’ve heard me talk about we can manage all of our sites with Jetpack using the WordPress.com interface – things along those lines. And that’s essentially what this is. Well, that’s essentially what we’re gonna talk about, today. So, if you have a WordPress.com account, or if you have a site that has Jetpack enabled, you can go ahead and you can start using this brand new interface right away. So, first, let’s talk about the web interface, and then we’ll talk about the actual app.
When you’re logged into WordPress.com, you’re gonna – when you land on the homepage, you’re gonna get to your reader. And the reader is very much like you would use a RSS feed, or an RSS reader – something like Feedly, or there used to be Google Reader – all of those different tools that can aggregate blog posts, you can do with WordPress.com, and you can just go in and manage your followed sites. This is a great way for me to stay connected. I stay connected with a lot of my friends and their websites, and I just kind of add those into my follow sites, and then I can just scroll up and down every day and I can see what they’re posting, without having to go to their individual sites and check things out.
There’s really cool things that you can do from the reader. You can discover other topics that are very similar. You know, I’m starting to get into CrossFit a little bit; I could search for CrossFit. I could find different blogs that are tagged as CrossFit so that I can kind of get to know a little bit more about what’s going on in the CrossFit community. You can search from different things, you can see recommendations that WordPress will actually recommend for you, and all of those good things.
You can also manage all of your sites right from this place. Like, you open it up and there’s a reader tab – is already highlighted – that’s where you are, you’re on the reader, but then if you go to My Site, it’s going to show you all of your sites. And inside of your sites, you have the ability to do everything that you could do with the WordPress Dashboard. You know, the WP-Admin – WP-Admin – that’s kind of what it’s cloned – that’s kind of what it’s called, these days. And especially like on the Automatic side of things, because we always talk about this new code basis was code named Calypso, so there was a Calypso version, and then there was a WP-Admin version. And the Calypso version is just so super slick. It goes so fast, and it’s just really cool. I highly recommend just going out and trying it and playing with it.
The cool part is that the thing that it’s built on – it’s built on, like, no JS, and some other technologies that I have no idea about, that the team is so smart about. But the cool part is there is no page refresh when you click on different menu items. So, inside the My Site area, you’ll see what kind of looks like the same dashboard as WP-Admin; I mean, it’s got blog posts and pages and media, menus, themes, all that kind of stuff down the left hand side, very much like your normal WordPress dashboard. However, if you click on something, there’s no page reload. Like, it just loads. Like, right now, with WP-Admin, you click on it and then there has to be a page refresh, and especially if your website is running on a shared hosting company that’s kind of on the slower side. Like, WP-Admin loads very, very slowly. And this work really, really quickly.
As we’re talking through this, I’m actually looking at the dashboard for YourWebsiteEngineer.com, which is self-hosted – it’s a self-hosted website over on Flywheel servers, but I’m managing everything though WordPress.com. I can see all of my pages; I can see when they were published. So, right now, it’s really kind of neat. I can see that there are – the most recent page that I have published was four months ago, and then a year ago was I updated my homepage, and two years ago, I updated my Thank You page. You know, I can see all of this stuff. It’s really cool, and you can manage everything from right within this interface, and right there, without having to leave and go back to your actual dashboard for your WordPress website.
You can see your custom post types. You can also see your plugins. This is a really cool feature that’s awesome. Like, you can go in and you’ve got – you can see all of your plugins. You can see whether they’re activated or not. You can click on the Manage tab, and when you’re managing them, you can select multiple at one time, you can deactivate multiple at a time if you like, but the really cool part is you can also go in and you can – say I’m gonna manage Akismet plugin, I can actually turn this on and I can say that I’d like this to auto-update. I don’t want to forget about updates, or I don’t want to forget to do an update. Let’s just go ahead and automatically update those, every single time.
It’s got a pretty slick interface. You can add plugins right from here. You can do some really, really cool things. It’s just – it’s just so neat. It just works. And I don’t know how to explain it else, besides, like, pure awesome. Like, that’s how I feel when I’m playing with this. Like, yes, it’s different than WordPress. It feels a little different than our WP-Admin dashboards, but it is really kind of interesting what you can do, and what you can see, all from one interface.
You also have the ability to go in and you can see the stats. So, I can see exactly how many people were on my site yesterday, the day before, or I can have those added into weeks. I could see how many people I have on a week to week basis. I can see the countries that people are visiting my site. Again, this is all, like, power of Jetpack and WordPress.com kind of coming together and colliding. It shows me the post that had the most views, it shows me all of this different information, just all right here within this WordPress.com user interface.
Now, say, for example, I want to go to one of my other websites that I manage. Maybe I want to check – I’m in maintenance mode, I want to check, like, all of my clients’ websites, or I want to check all of the websites that I’m running. Let’s see if there’s any updates that I need to do to any of those. And I can go out, I can go back to all of my sites, and I can see all 14 of my sites that I have turned on here. It looks like one of my sites, it has a little yellow circle with some arrows, and it looks like I have a plugin that’s outdated on this site, so I can go in here and I can go down to the plugin section, and I can see absolutely, I have a plugin that’s outdated and I can update it right from this interface, or I can update it from – I can go to WP-Admin if I really wanted to. I’m not going to. I can just go ahead and update it right here, which is pretty cool.
This website also is outdated. It’s running an older version of WordPress. Shh! Don’t tell anybody. It’s not quite up to date. And so, I can go ahead and I can update that right there, with a click of a button. It’s so really cool the list for all of your sites – like, say you have a hundred sites; there’s a search bar right at the top, and you can say, “Oh, I’m gonna look for DustinHartzler.com.” And as you start typing, it’s gonna go and filter out all of the websites that aren’t – that don’t have the name Dustin Hartzler in it, which is pretty cool. It has your favicon to the left of the site title, and so you have the ability to see, at a quick glance, which sites you’re talking about and which site you’re actually working on, which is really pretty cool. And the cool part too is it has a – it manages all of your comments for all of your websites.
If you head on over to – it’s got a blue bar across the top, and on the very right hand side, it’s got a little bell, which is the notification icon, the notification bell. And you can go and you can see all of the different notifications that you have on your WordPress sites, you know, across the network of your sites. As long as you’re all linked together with the same Jetpack sites, or with the same Jetpack user ID for your WordPress.com site, then you can see all of this stuff, you know, right from your dashboard.
Now, let’s talk about this WordPress app. This is really, really cool. So, I’ve always wanted to be able to have a standalone app. I am a horrible manager of tabs inside my browser. You know, like, I usually have dozens of tabs open all at one time, and I tend to lose things if I have too many open. But I’ve always liked the point to have a dedicated app so I can kind of focus on whatever it is at the time. And that’s what I really like about this. Like, I can open up the WordPress app now, and I can do in full screen, I can view it in full screen, and then I don’t see anything else. I don’t get distracted by any of the other tabs. I don’t get distracted by anything else that’s on the screen.
Then, if I have a link that I want to click on, maybe to look at it and view it later, from within my reader, then that’s going to open up a new tab in another browser window, and I never lose my place when I’m going through the reader and finding all the things in the reader. So, I think that’s pretty cool. The interface is essentially the same. It’s basically the same as WordPress.com, and the cool part is this is all running technology that’s pulling information from the WordPress servers. And so, it’s using the WordPress API.
Again, I don’t know a lot about all the technology that’s behind this, but essentially, it is all the code that has been working on for the last couple of years, that we’ve been working on at Automatic, is now all open source, and you can actually take this code and actually run it on your own server, on your own installation of WordPress, if you wanted. It’s essentially like a UI upgrade. It is a way to interact and spend more time actually writing and doing things, rather than waiting on your pages to load and to refresh on every single thing. And so, it’s just – it’s so powerful, it’s so amazing, and it – I’m really impressed with what the team has put together over these last few months.
The other cool part that I forgot to talk about when we were going through just looking at this thing is when you’re adding a post or a page, or you’re writing content, you’re editing, this thing automatically saves with no refreshes, and it just goes ahead and it saves it. And you’ll see a little icon that says, “Saving,” and then, “Saved.” And then once it’s saved, you can continue to add content to your post. Essentially, almost every time that you stop typing, then it gives you the ability that it just automatically saves.
It works so well, and the huge, huge advantage is – I’m looking at the features list, and the advantages on everything is just like near instant page loads. No reloads needed, a clean, modern interface, everything is updated in real time. It’s on multiple devices, so now we’re on the web and we have an app. And the Windows and the Linux versions are coming; they just didn’t have enough time to launch all of the things all at one time.
The dashboard – you can use one dashboard for all of your WordPress sites. You don’t need to log in to SiteA.WordPress.com, or SiteA.com/WP-Admin, and SiteB – you know, like, you don’t have to log in to all of those different things. It’s powered by Java Script and the rest API. All of it is – all of the code is on Git. It’s on GitHub, if you have – if you find any bugs and you want to track those, but it’s all open source. It’s all completely free. Like, you can go in and hack on it, and you can work on it, and that’s just the whole mindset of how Automatic works as a – that’s the mindset of Matt Mullenweg. He loves everything to be open source, to be community driven. There was a quote that he said that – he says that, “Good things happen to people who give out their code, and like, don’t keep it hidden.”
You can see that from WordPress, you know. It’s been how many years? Over ten years of WordPress being open source. Anybody can do anything with it, and we’ve got this huge, strong community that is invested in WordPress, and now it’s powering more than 25 percent of the web. I’m so excited to be in this age of technology, to see these advancements and these things that are happening. I know that there’s going to be a lot of really cool things that come out in Version 2 of this new interface, and this thing that’s called Calypso, it’s code named Calypso. And I just highly recommend spending a little bit of time just going and playing with it, and just figuring out, is it going to be a perfect solution for you?
I’d say if you’re using Jetpack, and you’re managing multiple sites, as long as they’re all connected to that same WordPress.com account, this is going to be perfect. It’s going to be a perfect interface, and I think that you’re gonna enjoy not spending time – you know, all those countless minutes – waiting for your page to refresh so you can do something, or you can do a live preview. Like, all of this stuff just works. It’s kind of like how the Customizer works in the WordPress Admin dashboard.
You know, in Customizer, you can go in, you can rearrange things, or add menu items, and do all this kind of stuff, and it just auto-refreshes on the right hand side, and you can see that live. That’s exactly how this interface works. It is so cool. It does some really neat things, and I just – I recommend checking it out. And I mean, it’s something that we’ve been working on for months and months and months, and I don’t think there’s much else to say besides go and try it, and see what you think.
So, there’ll be links in the show notes where you can go to find the code on GitHub. If you’re interested, there’ll be links where you can go and download the app, and that you can play around and try it out. And it’s essentially like if were building WordPress.com from scratch today, in 2015, this is what it would look like. That was kind of the over-arching goal. That was the thought in our mind. Like, “Okay, if we were gonna do this again, you know, what would we do?”
The code works perfectly on a phone. If you need to log in to WordPress.com and make some updates and some changes to your website, you know, while you’re on the go, it works perfectly on your phone, it works perfectly on tablet-sized devices, it works perfectly on the computers. And I think you’re really gonna enjoy it, and spend some time playing around with it, and just checking it out, and see if it’s going to be a perfect solution for you.
I know I’m gonna ditch that dashboard and start using this interface for everything. I mean, I’m gonna use the app. When I’m publishing the show notes for this episode, it will be done exclusively with the app, and I won’t have to log in to my WP-Admin dashboard anymore. All the functionality, all the features are there, but it’s just so much slicker, and can do some really cool things. I recommend checking it out.
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, and if you’re in the United States, Happy Thanksgiving! Take care. Bye-bye.