In May 2019, we launched Altis, our next-generation digital experience platform. Altis is the evolution of how we work with WordPress, and we believe it’s a fundamental and major step forward for the WordPress ecosystem.
So what is Altis, and what benefits does it bring for your development team and process?
Digital experience platform: a fundamental shift
The biggest change that Altis represents is a fundamental transformation in how we think about the role of our software in enterprise.
WordPress has humble beginnings as a blogging platform that evolved into a content management system (CMS). But the web hasn’t stood still in the meantime, and the scope of what we can achieve with web software has grown. Increasingly, enterprises are now seeking solutions for much broader problems: moving beyond simply managing content, to platforms that can support the creation, distribution, and management of content at scale.
As enterprises undergo digital transformation, our software needs to adapt and push forward. A website is no longer something maintained by the marketing team: it now forms the core of all digital experiences across the whole organisation. Functionality like open APIs and aggregation is key, allowing data to be available wherever it is needed.
The rise of the digital experience platform (DXP) has been driven by these increased needs. Traditional vendors have begun to adapt to this changing marketplace, offering proprietary solutions built on antiquated technology. Taking the market-leading, open source WordPress to enterprise allows us to provide engaging digital experiences, empowering users to achieve more. It allows us to push open source further into enterprise, offering not just an open solution, but a best-in-class solution.
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As we embrace new challenges, we’re faced with the reality of enterprise needs.
WordPress is built and designed for the consumer, which leads to fantastic user experiences, but can be technically challenging. Often we find ourselves rebuilding the same functionality due to the lack of a foundational framework for solving these problems – functionality that can be critical for large organisations. Features like single sign-on, multilingual content, and advanced workflows are baseline functionality for any digital experience platform.
Altis augments the WordPress user experience with tailored modules to push beyond a simple CMS to tackle these challenges. These modules provide proven solutions, pushing the baseline for all projects forward. This enables us to focus on meeting the unique challenges of each organisation, and rather than rebuild the basics, provide more opportunities for digital innovation and growth.
The modular design of Altis allows us to provide not just a batteries-included platform, but a batteries-replaceable one. Modules can be disabled and replaced as needs dictate, allowing projects to override or bring-their-own functionality.
With Altis’ core modules, we’re not only able to bundle functionality, we can also provide a better developer experience. By providing developers with better tooling and documentation, we can empower them to build the best possible results for end-users.
Documentation is a core part of our developer experience. By providing full, unified documentation for all modules in Altis, we’re able to cut down the discovery and onboarding period, and reduce the time-to-market: helping organisations test, iterate, and innovate on their digital strategy.
Our documentation provides detailed guides, sharing our experience engineering complex projects to allow new projects to jump straight to implementation.
Altis also bundles developer tools, codifying best practices and removing pain points. While documentation is useful, often it’s the more convenient tools that get the most use. Our tooling provides an efficient, ergonomic way to follow best practices and standards.
In addition, we’re able to accelerate development by offering a unified development environment, from virtual machines and containers, through live development stacks, to in-browser developer tools. Our integration ensures a unified approach through the development lifecycle.
An integrated experience
WordPress is renowned for its vibrant ecosystem of plugins, offering much more functionality than could ever be built by a single team. This has been foundational to the success of WordPress as a major player across the web, allowing it to act beyond a CMS and as a true platform for development.
The power of the third-party ecosystem comes with limitations, as each plugin builds its own unique experience. This can lead to an inconsistent user experience, and duplication of functionality.
With Altis, a carefully curated set of core functionality provides for an integrated experience, using best-in-class solutions. Through better cohesion of this functionality, we’re able to create experiences which get out of the way of users, empowering them to work better. Our common APIs allow developers to build custom functionality without reinventing UI paradigms or backend implementation.
In addition, we are working with our technology partners to build a vibrant ecosystem. These integrations allow our clients to solve their unique challenges by working with trusted industry leaders, while providing a cohesive user experience.
And of course, WordPress plugins are always within reach to extend and enhance your platform capabilities. Our code review and quality assurance processes ensure that even third-party plugins are thoroughly vetted and tested before moving to production.
Our commitment to open source
Open source is at the core of everything we do at Human Made. Altis would not be possible without the open source community, and we are committed to contributing back.
As we shift away from bespoke solutions and towards an integrated product, we are able to contribute back to the community in a much better way. Rather than code languishing in a project’s closed source repository, it can form the basis of new open source solutions. New modules can be developed and validated by enterprise clients, proving out new approaches. These solutions can be maintained continuously as part of our platform, and every project built on them can benefit from improvements.
As a core part of our platform, we’re able to ensure our open source plugins can be actively maintained. This allows our projects to be assets rather than liabilities, and makes the business case for maintenance much clearer.
Altis allows us to bring the benefits of open source to enterprise, and the stability of enterprise to open source.
With Altis, we’re moving beyond WordPress to something far bigger. Version 1 of Altis represented just the start of our journey; with Altis 2, we’ve iterated on the platform’s core feature set as well as on developer experience.