Getting started with WordPress Calypso

If you’re not familiar with Calypso, you might want to start cozying up to the native desktop app sooner, rather than later.

I made a small prediction that “WordPress” was going to make a more concentrated effort to push the native app experience on us over the next year, and based on Mullenweg’s 2016 State of the Word, it looks like it’s going to happen.

Using Calypso

One problem with web-based WordPress admin is, it’s slow.

Even with a fast internet connections and powerful web hosts, nothing will match the speed and fluidity of a native app. If you look at the apps you use on your iPhone, where you don’t even think about trying the mobile web version, the experience is effortless. Apps like banking, e-mail, social, and even blogging all run silky smooth. It’s that smooth experience Matt + Automattic + volunteers are going focus on.

where-to-get-calypso
Get it at apps.wordpress.com/desktop

Where to get Calypso

You can download Mac/Windows/Linux flavors of Calypso over on apps.WordPress.com. Links to the open source repositories on Github can also be found there, if you fancy yourself following along with the development of the apps. Side note: I really enjoy the design of that landing page.

thanks-for-downloading-calypso
Thanks for downloading!

The experience of downloading isn’t anything you’d be surprised about. You click download, it downloads, you’re ready to install. I just wanted to find an excuse to include another screenshot of the landing page in this article.

drag-the-app-icon-to-the-app-bin
Easy peasy on Mac, but that .com name?

The only point of contention I have is the app name: WordPress.com

Calypso is compatible with your self-hosted WordPress website install, so long as you’re using Jetpack along side it. I’m hoping that, as the project matures, we see this re-brand happen sooner rather than later. It’s a small blip on the radar for some, but with so much head scratching learning WordPress for the new user, I’d hate to see this add to the confusion.

Anyway, install Calypso like every other desktop app!

calypso-admin-dashboard
Calypso dashboard

I’m having a hard time trying to find a word for it, but dashboard is what makes the most sense. That probably comes from the fact that we still instinctvely call the the web version: admin dashboard.

Which, ironically, is pretty useless — at least to me. So Calyspo shows you your posts & pages, and it does a fine job at it. Everything moves snappy, and fluid-like. It really shines when it’s pulling in Jetpack data like stats, I feel like it’s even faster than on the web, while loading more assets to boot.

I did experience some lag when I went to browse the other sites attached to my WordPress.com account. Otherwise, good to go in terms of performance.

calypso-editing
Calypso editor is smooth, with a bump here and there

Now for the meat and potatos, the editing experience.

I hadn’t touched Calypso since it’s first major anouncement over a year ago, which I recall a lot of bugs, and overall it was a much slower experience. I’m happy to report, things are much better now. Areas where I thought I would see some slow down, like the media gallery, was super-fast and responsive. Even the preview button works like a champ.

This very post was drafted (and published) using Calypso, while taking notes and creating the screenshot walkthrough. During that time, I did experience one white screen of death, where I lost a few sentences of my post. That was a little unnerving, seeing that the whole idea is native storage — or at least, I had hoped.

The only other stumbling block I can see cropping up, for the seasoned WordPress user, is getting comfortable with the new UI. Sounds silly, but when you live in WordPress and make blog posts every day, having all of the admin controls to the right, forms a bit of muscle memory in that direction.

Otherwise, some time in the app will surely change that.

bear-app
Bear writer app

Will Calypso be your new editing experience?

Over the last month, I’ve been heavily invested in using the Bear writer app, Google Drive before that, and Desk even before that. Each come with their own pluses and minuses. Drive is great when I’m having my editor work on some longer form pieces, and Bear is super-quick and easy to use.

Major drawbacks for both is getting the content into WordPress. Google Drive is a nightmare of HTML cleanup, and Bear doesn’t come close to having a properly finalized doc, ready for publishing.

This post is the first full post I’ve created using Calypso, and I’m excited to see how the app fits into my everyday routine. I’m sure I’ll find some snags here and there, and I’ll report back as I find them.

What about you?

 

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