Automattic, the creator of WordPress.com, has revealed the existence of Calypso, a 20-month-old project that rewrites and open sources the code behind the blogging website. The goal is to haul the mechanisms underneath WordPress.com into a modern world of fast browser rendering, mobile devices and open-source partners.
WordPress.com hosts websites powered by the open-source content management system also called Wordpress. Joomla and Drupal are rival CMSes, but are nowhere near as popular. It's not all cupcakes, soy lattes and Fridays off: the WordPress.com team have a venerable PHP code base to manage, and that's proving tricky.
Matt Mullenweg, founder and chief executive of Automattic, reckoned the PHP code contained “countless bug fixes” and handles “hundreds” of edge cases. But, the "interface ... has been a struggle", and Automattic has therefore abandoned past attempts at partial rewrites in favour of a thorough overhaul.
The code’s openness and use of popular libraries such as Node is intended to spark external development, leading to more plug-ins, custom interfaces and distributions on and around WordPress.com.
“The time seemed ripe for something new, something big ... but if you’re going to break backward compatibility, it needs to be for a really good reason. A 20x improvement, not a 2x,” Mullenweg blogged.
“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. What the team has accomplished in such a short time is amazing,” Mullenweg wrote. ®