I am one of those developers who does not want to launch a product until it is just right and all of the bugs are worked out. I have been challenged by a few of the presentations at SXSW 2012 to focus on launching with a Minimal Viable Product and to iterate and improve as feedback comes in from users. There has been a lot of emphasis just getting the product out into the user’s hands so that you aren’t just guessing what they want. There have been several examples of companies who have spent millions of dollars solving huge problems. They focused on product development and great features, but have failed because no one ever used their final product. If they could have figured that out before spending millions of dollars and a lot of time on product development, they could have “pivoted” at an early stage to meet real user needs.
I have been working on a custom WordPress theme with my brother, @erictufts, that has at its very core the need for iOS styled scroll bars. We had tried every custom scroll bar out there and just could not seem to find a solution that met all of our design criteria.
Our requirements were:
- That the scroll bars work consistently across desktop and mobile browsers
- That the scroll bars would fade out as the scrollable pane lost focus
- That the implementation would not require that we add a bunch of extra HTML and CSS to the page
- That the solution be in active development
My apologies in advance to my good friends in web design, but I am going to take off my web designer hat and put on my web developer hat for a minute. And yes, you heard me right, web fonts are not the future of the web.
Web designers have an amazing impact on the web as they are the ones who make it beautiful. They take the sterile, rigid output from our web applications and give it nice colors and rounded corners. Front-end web design is their sphere of influence, so they are looking at new and exciting ways to enhance the web experience through a web design trifecta of web fonts, HTML5, and CSS3. As a result, blog posts and web conferences are raving about the amazing future of the web as it pertains to design.
The future of the web has to be looked at from a much broader perspective than just front-end design. Elegant and responsive design backed by powerful web development concepts like rich web applications, content aggregation and curation, and APIs deliver a more well rounded vision for the future of the web.
Over the next couple of years we are going to see an emergence of something new on the web, where the delivery and distribution of content on the web is going to transcend the website, the blog, social media, and mobile apps. The concept that each and every touch point is its own isolated entity and requires its own dedicate strategy is going to become an unmanageable and daunting task. The magnitude of managing all of these individual instances of our digital content is not scalable.
Many people and organizations have already identified this problem and have built, or are in the process of building, solutions to alleviate this burden. They are turning the web on its head, so to speak, and focusing on central repositories of content and users. Instead of focusing on a particular touch point as an end product, each touch point is an extension of a greater whole. A website becomes an instance of a subset of users interacting with a subset of content. The same holds true for mobile apps, social media sites, and web applications.
At the heart of this web strategy is a database that serves as a central repository of users and content that can be easily accessed via an API for the development of multiple digital touch points. This concept is what is driving my personal development of KickPress, a WordPress based API that allows for the development of web and mobile applications that transcend the traditional website or blog.
Combining a powerful content distribution API on the back-end with a elegantly designed responsive front-end using tools like HTML5 and CSS3 will create a future on the web which doesn’t look fragmented. There can be a unified strategy for content distribution across multiple channels and digital touch points without duplicate efforts and unnecessary strain on resources.
I have been interested for a few years now in the concept of making web apps available for smaller companies and organizations. There has been a lot said over the years about the advantages of web apps over web sites and there are some interesting stats showing a recent and rapid increase in web applications emerging on the market. Having worked for companies that specialize in building custom applications that meet specific business needs, I understand how much time and money goes into developing these kinds of niche solutions.
Enter WordPress. It has been very interesting to watch WordPress evolve from a blogging platform, to a full fledged content management system with a little bit of everything in between. Most interesting of all to me are the more creative uses of WordPress as web applications such as P2, BuddyPress, and bbPress.
The next natural step in this WordPress evolution is that it will become a widely adopted web application development platform. With the vast improvements in WordPress 3.0 and 3.1, the introduction of custom post types, custom taxonomies, and custom fields, the sky is the limit as to the kinds of web apps you can build with WordPress.
But there still seem to be some gaps with using WordPress as a web application development platform, the primary missing element being the lack of a public facing API. There are also some other “nice to have” features that would help developers embrace WordPress for app development, I know I have a list of my own. With this in mind I have been developing on a WordPress plugin for the last several months and have incorporated several iterations of it into different projects.
Enter KickPress. A full fledged public facing RESTful API with built-in authentication. I have also wrapped into the solution several other useful features, including ideas like multiple content views, custom post types management, shortcodes, and a built-in url shortner.
There is a beta release available for download at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/kickpress/ and I am currently working feverishly on documentation and should have most of that up over the next couple of weeks. Feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions on how to implement the KickPress API into your next web project.
What are your thoughts on the subject of using WordPress and a web development platform?
Tchau: An informal portuguese word used in Brazil derived from the Italian word “Ciao”, a salute that means either “Hello” or “Goodbye”. However, in Brazil it is not used as an initial greeting – instead, it is a common substitute for the word “Adeus” – “Goodbye” in Portuguese.
- Tchau, Diana. Vemo-nos amanhã.
- Tchau, Diana. We’ll see each other tomorrow.
- Tudo bem, João. Tchau.
- Allright, João. Tchau.
Each year, members of the web community from around the world submit session proposals to the South by Southwest Interactive conference, an event that played a role in the birth of WordPress. We head to Austin every year, do a BBQ or throw a party, but despite the fact that almost 15% of the web is powered by WordPress, there aren’t many sessions related to WordPress on the schedule. This year, more than 3200 proposals are competing for about 350 slots, and who has time to read through, vote, and comment on 3200 proposals? Out of those 3200+ proposals, only 8 relate to WordPress! I thought it would be handy to post a guide to the WordPressy proposals for SXSWi 2012, so that if you would like to check them out and vote on them it would be fast and easy. Leaving a comment in addition to your thumbs up/down vote helps the staff and advisory board know which sessions are likely to have an interested audience, so make sure to leave comments on the sessions you think would be cool (remember, they also publish the podcasts afterward). Voting ends in about 24 hours, so if you want to weigh in, now’s the time. Thanks for helping spread the word! Read More »