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The making of Worona 1.0

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Following our earlier posts, we are continuing this series of articles where we share what’s happening in Worona.

This time, we will be focused on the upcoming platform, a new and improved version of our product – Worona 1.0. It’s time to start talking about it, particularly because many of you have been asking for new features. We have been working on the new version since last summer; there is still work to do before it is released, but we can’t wait to hear what you think about it.

The MVP

MVP: Minimum Viable Product

It was more than a year ago when we decided to launch the first version of Worona. We had some leftover code from previous projects, and after reviewing it, we created Worona Plugin 0.7: it was ready to take on 20 posts from a WordPress blog and display them in an app.

We knew that a lot of features were missing, but instead of continuing to code, we decided to release it in the WordPress plugin directory to know if users were interested. Much to our surprise, people from all around the world started using it, asking for new features and helping us with suggestions for improvement.

It wasn’t planned, but now we realise that we launched an MVP that helped us learn directly from our users. We have received almost a 1,000 messages with feedback and now we know what people expect from our product.

Without a doubt, releasing an early version was the best way to design our product.

Our apologies for the difficulties

The first principle behind Worona 1.0 is to make it accessible to everyone. 

Turning a WordPress blog into an app with Worona and publishing it in the stores requires some technical skills. It was not our intention, and we weren’t conscious about how difficult it was until users started asking for help.

In the current version, users have to download a .zip with the source code of the app, then they have to edit some files and test it in a simulator. Once it is working, they have to deal with the Google Play and the Apple App Store submission processes, which we know are not easy tasks.

With Worona 1.0, it will be significantly simpler. First, you’ll need to install the plugin in your WordPress and then enter your URL in our online dashboard. After those steps, you’ll automatically see what your app looks like. That’s it. No code to download, no files to edit, and no simulators to install and run.

We are also working to make the publishing process dramatically simpler by integrating our platform with PhoneGap Build, a system that is designed to take the hassle out of developing mobile apps.

Our first base technology was not the best

technical debt

The second principle behind Worona 1.0 is to publish the apps only once and make sure they are updated automatically.

There is something worse than going through the technical process described above, it is repeating it over and over.

With every new version of the app, every new patch, or every new extension, you have to download the new source code, edit it, test it, compile it, and publish it to the stores. This was a problem for our users, and also for us. We have fixed it in Worona 1.0, dropping off Corona SDK, and switching to a new technology that allows us to publish the app only once.

The updates, new extensions, and configuration changes will be automatically injected into the app.

You want apps, but we have better plans for you.

app app app

Our main concern is how websites perform on mobile devices. The first approach to make websites work better is to turn them into mobile apps. Every day hundreds of users find our plugin in the WordPress directory and start turning their sites into mobile apps.

This will provide a positive experience to those who have the apps installed; however, all the others accessing the site directly from mobile browsers will still suffer the same sluggish site. We are also on a mission to improve how your site performs with mobile devices if it’s accessed directly from a mobile browser.

 “I have a responsive theme!”, you say.

Unfortunately, having a responsive theme does not guarantee that your site will work properly on mobile devices. Responsive themes do not improve loading times; you can’t send push notifications to your readers or load articles instantly. With Worona 1.0, you will be able to provide an improved version of your site, one that performs as well as the mobile app when users visit your site from their mobile browsers.

We are using the same technology that powers Calypso, the brand new dashboard for WordPress (dot com). It is a JavaScript single page application connected with the API, which provides a better performance than traditional HTML sites.

The ultimate goal of Worona is to provide the best experience for WordPress sites on mobile devices. We are creating a community of WordPress enthusiasts who care about improving the mobile world.

Join the WordPress mobile revolution!