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Introducing osDXP to the WordPress Community, a new approach to the creation of an Open Source, digital experience platform

*A collaborative mix of diverse experiences, strengths and ideas leads to a far greater result with a richer sense of purpose. “

What is osDXP

A brief explanation of osDXP

osDXP is an Open Source framework for the creation of a Digital Experience Platform designed to deliver next level innovation and customization for the enterprise. The project’s unique approach in collaborative development sets the stage for increased functionality and flexibility, while reducing hidden costs and the typical vendor lock in. In its simplest form, the osDXP project is a platform scaffolding designed with a streamlined editorial interface to allow marketing, technology, and sales to utilize all the latest tools and practices to generate the best customer and editor experience possible. Additionally, osDXP creates a hybrid model of a light framework balancing the use of proven off-the-shelf products and enterprise grade standards for customization, at a lower total cost of ownership than other options in the marketplace.

osDXP and the WordPress Community

osDXP has taken a two factor approach in how to create an enterprise focused layer to the core project:

  1. A WordPress plugin that adds an augmented layer on top of WordPress, the intent is to create a base simplification to the current admin UX for the project contributors to start working together in creating a more task based Editorial experience.
  2. Bringing together a first small set of Service and Product firms focused on creating a layer of common processes and standards more in line with Enterprise expectations. The current coding guidelines can be seen in the “osDXP Modules (Plugin) guidelines” section below.

If you would like to know about the background of the project continue reading below. If you have questions about what is in the first release, get in touch or reach out to your of the founding partners.

What is the need for osDXP?

In polling the needs of clients with client stakeholders and other professional service firms a recurring theme was present: clients in the DXP Space are often held captive by a deep level of vendor lock-in. Additionally, their choices are limited to one of two scenarios: off-the-shelf products such as SaaS based systems offer limited choices in feature customization without incurring high additional development cost adding to licencing, or more bespoke systems incur deep customization costs with no clear way to speed time to market or have vendor independent upgrade paths.

In simple terms, osDXP leverages the maturing experience of WordPress, achieving balance among the many choices of MarTech.

What begs to be asked, is how to find balance in remaining open enough to use the best tools and try new ones, without having to constantly retrain and adapt process in the workforce.

Balance, as the advancement of interconnected systems and the rise of the API has flourished, at the same time, the marketing technology solutions list has started from 150 in 2011, to over seven thousand this year. There is a lot of innovation, but can any CMO or technology team at a major brand constantly be in a state of migration let alone to cost of retraining?

If there is one prominent example of how the enterprise has embraced WordPress, despite any limits, over any other software, it’s that Fortune 500 companies like Walt Disney have publicly stated that WordPress became the system of record due to the ease of adapting it while being able to train editorial staff in hours rather than days or weeks.

With the rise of more complex marketing sites and what is becoming the DXP, there are two internal barriers to advancement before speaking to technology performance or depth of features often marketed as solved by both proprietary and open source software alike, and they both arise from the incredible success of the WordPress Project.

  • The Fractured nature of how to advance some aspects not yet the focus of the core project. There are many good reasons why the WordPress Project is something of a Swiss Army Knife, working on some features and not others. Setting aside any preference, the community is rich with intelligent people and companies advancing the platform from within their space. For the Enterprise install base, the resulting dynamic mimics the same issues as a small bespoke software packages that do not have sizable install bases or outside support.
  • Both the count of available Plugins and the commercialization of some amazing enterprise grade products that extend WordPress within the GPL. The low barrier to entry for development, with its reduced engineering complexities, is a powerful advantage of WordPress over other platforms . With that in mind, it’s ok to also agree that some segmentation for different vertical needs/markets is a net positive, while not creating something completely new and removed from the core project. There can, and should be, non-diverging variants, and the core project becomes stronger as a result. Variants created as a non-forking “Flavor” create opportunity for new ideas, some of which might come upstream, while others remain only with those vertical markets..

The end result for the enterprise vertical is many intelligent people and companies who create services and products that once introduced to a complex integration end up with:

  • Process and technology standards that are very divergent from one aspect to another with each engineering team forced to bridge such a large gap in some common standards that little time and budget is left for innovation in keeping our competitive edge. While other more vertically focused products/projects have that already ingrained.
  • The whole is less than the sum of its parts. Yes, you read that right, anyone that has built a complex WordPress based solution can tell you that unless you find the unicorn client that will write a blank check to re-skin the project completely for their business process, (they do happen), the editorial process of these projects can quickly look like a collection of products that have almost nothing in common forcing the editor to hunt and click from one section to the next to accomplish tasks. This does not happen in the more mature DXP solutions that are currently being offered.

Who, How, & Why is osDXP special?

Growing up seeing my father build professional collaborations between banks, engineering companies, construction companies and even government entities to engineer and build dams, ports and large touristic infrastructure, I was fascinated with the depth in how all these large separate entities had to collaborate and agree on standards and practices that built on what they all had expertise in, to create something unique and and larger than they could alone. At the end of the mega projects, they would take back some of the things learned that could help their core business.

The WordPress Community Ethos is an amazing example of working together, yet there is a cliff where between working on the project as a Swiss Army knife solution and some of its more complex use cases like large enterprise installations, there is a giant area of expertise that remains fragmented.

The intent is not to create a vendor advantage for any one company, in looking at the way to enroll the community in a vertical solution I tried to envision a way to “get the ball rolling” without it being a project of one service or product firm.  As I considered this, I realized that getting an MVP to introduce the community to the concept and bring together a small working group as an example would be a way to jump start and create a working proof of concept that could be refined once shared with the community at large.

So with that in mind, the first release of the framework is a powerful collaboration between some of the most experienced professional service and product firms, including Crowd Favorite, Inpsyde,FastLine Media, Gravity Forms, The Code Company, Web Savvy Marketing, TrustedLogin, and Brainstorm Force. This founding group has worked since day one to create a working MVP that opened the door and set a general direction, but would leave the space for a larger group to join and really dig in.

osDXP Modules (Plugin) guidelines

  • Modules need to adhere to osDXP UX Standards.
  • Adhere to all WordPress Plugin Directory Guidelines & GPL Compliant Codebase
  • PHP 7.2 min. Version required
  • Detailed docblocks need to be present throughout your codebase
  • Valid codebase
    • Plugins must validate against an established ruleset for PHP and Javascript, passing linting tests against these rules.
    • PSR12 (with the WordPress sanitization and deprecation rules) is the desired PHPCS ruleset to validate against, though:
    • If a plugin’s PHP is already standardized against the WordPress Coding Standards PHPCS rules, it may continue to do so for each DXP plugin release for the immediate future.
    • JavaScript should validate against ES6, at a minimum.
  • No SaaS-ification of Client Data (because enterprises need to be in control of their data)
  • No Customer Data is saved on Vendors System (SaaS)
  • Clear data privacy standards
  • Accessibility declaration
  • Object Oriented/Class Based PHP.

What’s Next?

  1. Join our slack
  2. Check out the plugin on github repository
  3. For additional questions or comments contact us.

Join our conversation about osDXP