So how did Calypso come about? Why was a new admin interface for WordPress needed? A drive to new technologies was a motivator.
“Our existing codebase and workflows had served us well, but ten years of legacy was beginning to seriously hinder us from building the modern, fast, and mobile-friendly experiences that our users expect.” ~ Matt Mullenweg
The open-source Calypso project took more than 20 months of development, and contains the contributions of over 100 contributors.
Mullenweg considers Calypso the “most exciting” project he’s ever been involved with. However, he does anticipate that it will cause a stir in the WordPress community:
“This was a huge bet, incredibly risky, and difficult to execute, but it paid off. Like any disruption it is uncomfortable, and I’m sure will be controversial in some circles.”
And he’s right: not everyone has embraced Calypso with wide-open arms.
Calypso and Jetpack
Although Calypso is WordPress.com’s new default admin interface, self-hosting users of WordPress can currently only download it as an app if they’ve installed Jetpack. Jetpack itself is held by some developers at arms’ length, as David Morgan explains:
“The Jetpack plugin has been a topic of controversy among WordPress developers for quite some time. It’s been touted as the future of WordPress by Automattic, but many developers believe it’s their Trojan Horse into the self-hosted WordPress world. The release of Calypso may have confirmed that belief.”
Perhaps developers of the 40,000-odd WordPress plugins have every reason to feel apprehensive about Calypso. Alex Johnson writes that currently, Calypso is an alternative to WP-Admin rather than a replacement; whether it eventually replaces WP-Admin, Johnson says, is “up to the community of contributors to the WordPress (.org) project. The big sticking point is likely to be third-party plugins. Although you can enable/disable and update plugins using Calypso, many plugins extend WP-Admin to add their own settings pages.”
Adapt or die?
If the WordPress community adopts Calypso, what becomes of all the PHP-based plugins that currently lend WordPress much of its power and functionality? They will have to adapt or die. While it’s theoretically possible to use Calypso alongside the old WP Admin, it’s not a practical or efficient option that’s likely to persist long-term.
We asked our customers at UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup whether they believed that the new Calypso version of WordPress would overtake WP-Admin by 2020. Here’s what they said.
He hopes that Calypso will have a big impact on the growth curve of WordPress. If it does, it will certainly force a steep learning curve upon the WordPress community. As he writes himself: “One of the hardest things to do in technology is to disrupt yourself.”
So what do you think? Is Calypso the future of WordPress?