The folks behind AppPresser, the first mobile app development framework for WordPress, generated some buzz at WordCamp San Francisco with live demos of their upcoming Reactor product.
When AppPresser was launched in January, it was groundbreaking in terms of demonstrating the power of WordPress as an application platform. However, it was not as user-friendly as the team hoped, with the necessity of installing multiple plugins and sending your app away to get built before you can test it on mobile. Customizing the app through AppPresser often left customers, especially non-developers, confused and in need of support.
After seeing a live demo of Reactor, it seems likely that this new product will someday be the official successor of AppPresser. Reactor provides a hosted app-building experience that is far easier to use.
Reactor Will Provide a Hosted App Creation Service Using the WP JSON REST API
Ryan Fugate, an AppPresser developer involved with building Reactor, said that the forthcoming WP JSON REST API was instrumental in the decision to build Reactor. “The API allows you to create much better performance in your apps, as well as offline capabilities.” Content created in Reactor is cached, stored in your app, and available offline.
Any plugin that creates its own endpoints for the WP API can easily have its data pulled in and integrated with Reactor. In other words, instead of AppPresser having to create complicated add-ons for every plugin out there, the plugins can make themselves available to talk to Reactor via support for the new WP API.
“We are currently building in support for WooCommerce and will be adding lots more plugins as they add support for the API,” Fugate told the Tavern.
Since app creation with Reactor is provided as a hosted service, the team can offer a more consistent experience for its customers. “Building our own customized experience is a much better experience for the user,” Fugate said. “It allows us to integrate things like the build process and push notifications, which would not have been possible otherwise.”
After testing Reactor, the single most useful feature that stands out is the live preview of your app as you are building it, as you can see in the demo video below. Instead of shipping your app off to be built with Phonegap, you can actually have it built automatically and scan a QR code to download it to your phone for testing.
Will AppPresser “Classic” Be Phased Out in the Future?
Based on the live demo of Reactor that I saw, its features leave the original AppPresser product in the dust. There are so many distinct advantages to using Reactor that it is likely to render the original obsolete. Reactor includes:
- Pre-made page templates and features
- Design customization
- Build and preview your app without touching app files
- WordPress and non-WP content
- Integrated push notifications
- Automatic app building
- App stats
- Faster performance
- Offline capabilities
Those who purchased the original AppPresser product will be eager to know if Reactor will soon be replacing it. The AppPresser team is committed to continuing support for the original product and won’t be retiring it anytime soon, according to Fugate:
AppPresser ‘classic’ is still a very useful product for certain projects. For example, the BuddyPress integration is very solid, and some people may need to load custom content that isn’t available through the WP API. Projects like the Dallas Museum of Art app by Webdev studios is a great example of a project for AppPresser classic.
Reactor has a lot of advantages though, so we’d recommend most people give it a try first. We will still continue to sell and support AppPresser classic for the foreseeable future.
AppPresser may opt to grandfather in customers who purchased the original product, but the team hasn’t yet announced their plans. Access to Reactor will be offered for a monthly fee.
The new service may be more cost-effective for customers who integrate push notifications with their apps, since many currently pay $50/month to a 3rd party service. Reactor integrates its own push notifications, which lowers the overall cost for apps that require them.
The new WordPress-powered app creation service is an excellent example of what is possible for developers to build using the upcoming WP JSON REST API. AppPresser continues to innovate in the app space with virtually no competition from other companies, but that may change as others discover the power of the new API. The team hopes to have Reactor launched by the end of the year.
Reactor is pretty awesome how it leverages the new WordPress JSON REST API to pull data from your WordPress site into your mobile application. Great post!