Calypso, an experiment of Automattic (the company behind WordPress), is now open and available for everyone – to download and use, modify and improve, and even adapt and create one’s own version. It’s so good (not a surprise, right?) that it replaced WordPress.com – at least its front-end that the most WordPress laymen know as “WordPress.com.”
“So we asked ourselves the question: ‘What would WordPress.com look like if we were to start building it today?'” wrote Andy Peatling, Calypso Project Lead, and they started building a WordPress.com for the modern, mobile-first world. And we have to tell you, it’s pretty great.
1. Calypso is the New WordPress.com
Calypso is developed to replace the well-known WordPress.com’s front-end – the admin dashboard used to manage your WordPress.com account as well as your blogs or websites. Don’t get confused between WordPress.com and the open-source WordPress hosted on your servers – Calypso is not available as part of WordPress.org’s free downloads, at least not at the writing of this post.
With its minimal and simple interface, Calypso lets you quickly navigate through the features and customize your blog or site easier than ever before. Just like the old WordPress.com, it lets you post new blogs, add/remove pages, customize themes, share on social media and give admin rights from the web as well as your desktop. It includes a modern interface with in-page previews that allows you to create and customize just as you always have.
Unlike the old WordPress.com that presented too much complexity and a lack of control a lot of the time, Calypso is built from the ground-up to ease the work of a WordPress user. While developers failed to address several user experience issues on the website, Calypso (a JS-powered app) proves to be the definitive solution. Calypso maintains the same consistency of WordPress.com we’ve come to rely on by delivering a fast and powerful blogging experience – even right from your desktop. Sounds cool, right?
3. Calypso is a Single-Page App (SPA) rather than a Website
Calypso is a Single-Page App (SPA) unlike the old WordPress.com that was a website. It means only a single page gets loaded from the server on your browser, and the rest is an app performing operations such as loading and showing new screens or pages. Though it feels like a website when you’re browsing the new WordPress.com’s dashboard, it’s not.
Everything flashes up on a single frame rather than opening a separate browser tab or window. What’s the benefit of this? It’s faster – more than you can think. For example, while browsing settings, if you click to view the statistics, it will open the stats page in the same tab on the same screen. This (not opening a new page) speeds up the interaction and enhances the user experience.
4. Calypso Supports WordPress Multisite
Calypso comes with support for WordPress Multisite. This means no matter whether you have 1, 5, 10 or 100 WordPress installations or WordPress Multisite installations on multiple or single servers, you can easily manage all of them using Calypso, and that too from a single dashboard on a single screen with blazing-fast speed. Sounds pretty great, right?
Calypso gives you the same options for each of your websites, which helps you to manage them more easily. You also have the sites list option just like the old WordPress.com, listing multiple sites available so you can quickly switch between the installations and manage one of them directly from the dashboard.
5. Calypso Supports Jetpack-enabled Blogs or Websites
Calypso is not limited to just WordPress.com blogs or sites. Like the old WordPress.com, it also supports managing Jetpack-enabled blogs and sites right from a single dashboard regardless if they are hosted on WordPress.com or on your own servers.
Jetpack is a free power-up plugin by Automattic, which brings in lots of useful WordPress.com features to WordPress.org installations like Photon CDN for images and many more. It also offers a remote management feature that enables you to post articles, upload images, check comments, and manage plugins and themes from WordPress.com, and that same functionality is used by Calypso to help you manage your WordPress sites from one location.
6. Calypso is Fast
Calypso, being a single-page and data-driven application, offers high-speed functionality. Unlike the old WordPress.com, it doesn’t have to load pages for every action. Instead, the page is always the same from the time you first open it, and only the content changes thereafter.
With Calypso’s high-speed functionality, you can complete work in minutes that would’ve taken hours before. It works incredibly fast and much more smoothly than the old version without giving you any hiccups during basic operations. Simply, the new WordPress.com is lightweight and super-fast. Period.
7. Calypso Gets Real-time Updates & Notifications
Calypso, not being a webpage-based site, gives real-time updates and notifications to the users – no matter if you’re running it in a web browser or using it as a desktop application on your local system. It acts more like Facebook or Gmail in that it gives you instant notifications of the latest activities, new comments, new signups, etc as soon as they arrive. Calypso works quite the same.
Calypso don’t force you to refresh the page manually. While receiving new likes or comments on a blog post, the notification panel will inform you instantly right on the same screen. This helps you check updates and notifications easily and instantly. From the notification panel, you can view real-time comments, follows, and likes by users on your blog posts.
8. Calypso Offers a Responsive UI
Calypso comes with a full-fledged responsive user interface and supports every device regardless of different screen sizes . Its responsive nature allows for easy navigation all across the application and each feature can be clearly accessed from a single window.
Moreover, you can create and manage your blog or site on the new WordPress.com on any device, from any place – more easily than before. Calypso, because of its responsive design, can be used in full-screen on any device.
9. Calypso is Open Source
Calypso is open source – free for use by all. Anyone can modify and improve this awesome product, customize, add features or work upon the existing software – even for their own products. Automattic, living up to their open-source goodness philosophy, released Calypso to the world to use, test, develop and adapt.
Calypso developers decided to adopt the latest technologies and make the application open source so that developers can experiment and play with it, and have freedom to extend its code to build their own awesome single-page apps. It’s totally shareable and this philosophy is what has made WordPress a factual web blogging platform over the last 12+ years.
10. Calypso is Built using Node.js, Express.js and React.js
Calypso adapted the Express.js, which is a minimal and flexible framework for Node.js. It even included the Facebook’s React.js library to build the user interface. This library is popular for building large applications with data that changes time to time, and Calypso is one of those data-driven apps.
11. Calypso Brings WordPress to Desktops
The resulting Calypso for desktops run as seamlessly as its web sibling – the underlying code is the same, after all. The desktop apps are responsive and fit on all screen sizes – no matter if you want to use it fullscreen or place it in a corner to look for real-time notifications. This lets you use the WordPress dashboard like any other app on your system and runs at a much faster speed than any normal website.
Calypso is the present and future of WordPress.com. We can’t predict what’s going to happen, but it’s sure that the new WordPress.com brings new features, opens new possibilities, and works upon the old functionalities for a better customer experience.
Moreover, it’s just the start. It’s hard to predict what people can do with this new open-source tool, but yes, people have worked wonders with open source opportunities in the past, and we hope the trend will continue in the future. We’re excited to discover the various possibilities of the new WordPress.com and also to see the innovations inspired by Calypso.
What do you think about Calypso? We’d like to hear from you via the comments below.