Aesop Story Engine 1.1 Beta Now Available for Testing Ahead of First Major Update

Aesop Story Engine 1.1. beta is now in the hands of eager testers, as project leader Nick Haskins prepares to launch the first major update to the plugin since its release. Haskin’s open source storytelling plugin was fully funded via a Crowdhoster campaign earlier this year. Shortly thereafter he released it on WordPress.org and launched a line of commercial themes that showcase the storyengine.

The plugin’s 1.1 release represents a major leap forward in terms of usability. “Our primary focus with this update was to improve usability even further by removing the friction created with generating and editing story components,” Haskins said. The generator in 1.1 will be completely responsive down to mobile device displays.

ase-generator

The story components will have a new interface in version 1.1, which more closely matches the WordPress admin. This version also adds the ability to edit story components in the visual editor. Components are now converted into a placeholder where you can easily edit their attributes. Clicking the pencil icons launches the modal view with the last options you entered.

ASE-editable-story-components

After 1.1 is pushed out Haskins plans to keep hammering away at usability in preparation for launching a hosted solution for Aesop Story Engine. “After 1.1 goes out, it’s back to further improving the user interface, making things even easier, and reducing even more friction ahead of revisiting a hosted solution to offer, as the plugin will have matured at that point,” he said.

Haskins is steadily and patiently refining the plugin and has set no ETA for the hosted version. His primary focus is on improving the experience of the story engine. “We really want it to be an incredible experience, more than just ‘a skinned WordPress multisite,'” he said. “I’m watching the JSON API and waiting for more admin type capabilities. Next year would be a better guess at this point for the hosted version,” Haskins told the Tavern.

So far the project is experiencing success. “Sales have been going really, really well. Month after month of growth even with the price of themes at $120 each, which subsequently allows for further development,” Haskins reported. Version 1.1 will introduce the ability for developers to create custom add-ons to tie into the Story Engine, which is likely to bring more products into the ASE marketplace.

Aesop Story Engine Finds Momentum in Education

The Aesop Story Engine was created to empower WordPress publishers to pursue the art of digital storytelling, but Haskins wasn’t sure where it would take off when he initially tested the waters to see if there was any interest. While the product seems to be rather niche, it has surprisingly found the most traction in the education sector. “In terms of demographics, we are seeing a lot of big name universities, and about an equal amount of design firms,” Haskins said.

“The rest of users seem to fall into general writers, publishers, and news organizations, Detroit News being the most recent addition. This inevitably gives us a bit more context when making decisions regarding premium themes and upcoming addons,” Haskins said. “Simply put, the education space is the biggest trend at the moment.”

Version 1.1 is projected to launch at the beginning of next week. If you want to get in on testing the beta, check out the post on the ASE blog to download the zip file.

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8 Comments


  1. I’m taking the beta for a spin, looks fantastic. Needs a bit more polish but that’s why its beta!

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      1. The “empty state” for the Map component is crying out for a concise explanation or at least a hint of what is explained fully in the documentation: http://aesopstoryengine.com/help/maps-component/

        Right now to a new user it is completely baffling! What do I do, what is this for? and you have all that room in the sidebar to explain or link to the documentation at least.

        How about this?

        The Map component creates a full-width map with custom location markers. Only one map is allowed per story at this time.

        This component must be configured before full use. Since it uses Open Maps, we encourage you to create a free account at Mapbox and then copy your unique map ID and then paste it into your WordPress admin → Appearance → Customize → Aesop Story Engine → Map Box ID.

        For full documentation and help in using this component, please visit: http://aesopstoryengine.com/help/maps-component/

        btw mapbox free account is 3000 not 10,000
        https://www.mapbox.com/plans/

        Empty states are a huge opportunity not missed by wise UX ninjas:

        http://tympanus.net/codrops/2013/01/09/designing-for-the-empty-states/

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      2. This is gold! We really do appreciate the feedback, and have made a few adjustments to address 99% of your concerns with a few fixes today. Thanks again!!!!

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      3. Nick,
        For the parallax component it would be helpful to set the rate at which the image moves relative to the scrolling.

        Also noticed that any caption set at the bottom of the image will “fall off” as you scroll. Take a look at this to see what I mean: http://gfycat.com/MeekObedientBighornsheep

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