EP469 – Synching WordPress

November 17, 2023

On this episode of WPwatercooler, the panel delved into the theme of “Synching WordPress”. The discussion, led by Jason Tucker, Sé Reed, and Jason Cosper, focused on the complexities and techniques of aligning data from various sources with WordPress. The conversation touched upon the use of tools like Airtable and Salesforce for data management and their integration with WordPress. The panel also explored the challenges of mapping data flows and determining the ‘source of truth’ in data synchronization. Issues related to performance, storage, and the ever-evolving landscape of data management in WordPress were key topics. Additionally, the episode discussed various plugins and methods for effective data sync, as well as philosophical aspects of what constitutes a website and the role of WordPress as a content management system.


Related Episodes

  1. EP458 – WordPress Data Management: Understanding the Basics
  2. EP462 – Optimizing WordPress Performance: Tips and Tools
  3. EP465 – The Evolution of WordPress as a CMS


00:00 – Introduction to Synching WordPress
04:17 – Challenges in Data Synchronization
08:36 – Tools for Data Management: Airtable and Salesforce
13:54 – Understanding Data Mapping and Sources of Truth
19:27 – Performance and Storage Considerations in WordPress
25:03 – Discussing Various Plugins for Data Sync
30:41 – Philosophical Aspects: What is a Website?
36:00 – Role of WordPress as a CMS
41:58 – Conclusion and Final Thoughts


Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Jason Tucker: This is episode number 469 of WPwatercooler, Sinking WordPress,

[00:00:16] Sé Reed: Or shinking.

[00:00:18] Jason Tucker: Shinking.

[00:00:19] Sé Reed: Shinking.

[00:00:20] Jason Tucker: I’m Jason Tucker, go to my not running website of WordPress, JasonTucker. blog.

[00:00:27] Sé Reed: I’m Sé Reed, I do stuff. I don’t know what it is anymore. What is life? That’s Sandra Median, whatever.

[00:00:33] Jason Cosper: And y’all know who it is. It’s your boy, Jason Cosper, back at it again on the world’s most influential WordPress podcast.

[00:00:41] Jason Tucker: Speaking of podcasts, we got places for you to go find them. Go look around on the internet. You can find us. And while you’re on the internet, go hang out with us on our

[00:00:49] Sé Reed: Coming to the discord, we don’t have cookies but we’re funny.

[00:00:54] Jason Tucker: Yeah.

[00:00:56] Sé Reed: And it’s not a secret anymore, so after the show you can pop into our discord and have a little voice chat in the Aftercooler channel.

[00:01:05] Jason Tucker: Yeah, that’s been fun. We’d had, we had a good time last time. It was a lot of fun.

[00:01:10] Sé Reed: I

[00:01:10] Jason Cosper: You were,

[00:01:12] Sé Reed: But it was great.

[00:01:13] Jason Cosper: yeah, I was going to say you

[00:01:14] Jason Tucker: an hour.

[00:01:15] Jason Cosper: yeah you were hanging out until almost one o’clock and they’re not guaranteed that we’ll do that again,

[00:01:21] Sé Reed: No,

[00:01:21] Jason Tucker: No.

[00:01:22] Sé Reed: but I actually popped back on cause Indigo, my daughter was off of school and so I had to go mom, but then everyone was still on. And so I like popped on and she said hi to everybody. That was really fun. She’s who are these people? What are these little heads? Anyway the Discord’s fun, you should join us there, because I think the Discord is going to help us help us focus during the show on WordPress stuff that isn’t necessarily the inner workings of WordPress contribution, because we get to talk about that.

[00:02:01] In the Discord, so you know, we don’t have to talk about that as much. Although wait hold on. We have a new segment. I did want to just offer my, my thoughts on this is a visual gag for those of you who are listening on a podcast. Tea.

[00:02:19] It’s just a cup, and that’s just a teabag, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

[00:02:24] It also has glitter on it. Anyway, I just want to say that it has been proclaimed without any context for that transparency and openness is the way that WordPress should be working, and that people didn’t know that things were being done in private channels. Mhm, and that’s me drinking the tea, BT Dubs.

[00:02:51] And so yeah, it just remains to be seen. I think that correlates beautifully to the annual survey discussion we had, so definitely project leadership is super on the same page. Everything’s been going really well, and I’m sure no lawyers were consulted. Oh boy! Anyway, that’s the end of that

[00:03:10] Jason Tucker: Yes. Speaking of sinking we’re gonna talk about WordPress sinking

[00:03:14] Sé Reed: Yeah, I thought this was the funniest title. I really did. I was like, I love a good double entendre. But we, this actually was not intended from the title. We’re not being shady. This topic came about.

[00:03:27] Jason Tucker: actually about WordPress,

[00:03:28] Sé Reed: WordPress.

[00:03:29] Jason Cosper: What?

[00:03:29] Jason Tucker: collection of PHP files that makes a WordPress thing that has some JavaScripts. Yes. We’re actually going to be talking about the software again.

[00:03:36] Sé Reed: a software. I think Jason Tucker was bored this week and texted us and was like, what are you guys doing? What’s happening? I’m bored. And I responded with what exactly I was doing, which was what was I doing? I was building out Airtable to WordPress maps. And so I was explaining the data mapping that I was doing at that particular moment.

[00:04:01] And we started talking about it, and it’s oh, as soon as we start talking about something like that, I’m like no, we have to stop, this is a show, we have to do the show. Actually, I think, Jason, you did this. You just titled it. You just,

[00:04:12] Jason Tucker: Yeah.

[00:04:13] Sé Reed: you’re like, great, new show topic. So anyway, that’s what we’re talking about today.

[00:04:17] It’s not a dub, it’s not intended to be a pun it is a pun, but it’s not intended to be the topic. It’s syncing aligning data from different places. So I just want to clarify. Anyway, so I have lots to say on it because I’ve been doing it all week. I do it a lot, actually,

[00:04:39] Jason Tucker: So when you do this, do you typically use an outside place as the source of truth or are you using sometimes WordPress as a source of truth to go to someplace else?

[00:04:52] Sé Reed: This is such a great question. Where’s your source of truth? This is actually why I was making a diagram because one of my favorite things to do when mapping data and trying to figure all this out is to literally make diagrams. I’m obsessed with making diagrams, like flows. And charts, because then everyone’s look, this is what is happening to your data.

[00:05:12] It is going here. This is automated. This is not automated. You have to do this part.


[00:05:19] Sé Reed: There’s color coding and shapes. People like that. Clients are like, oh, so the circle means I do it. And the diamond means the computer does it. Exactly. So it’s very helpful because honestly, it’s a lot to hold in your head.

[00:05:35] Even as someone who understands databases. And how data flows around and so I don’t not only do I not fault my clients for not grappling the whole thing, but I get it because I don’t want to hold it in my head either.

[00:05:54] Jason Cosper: A lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what have yous, a lot of strands in old Dooter’s head. Thank

[00:06:06] Sé Reed: to your point, Tucker Where the source of truth is crucial. For example, in one client, I actually have multiple sources of I’ve not, it cannot be that Airtable, for example, in this case, I also use a million different types of data, like all my, Clients have different, some use Salesforce, some use proprietary systems, some use HubSpot, some use whatever it happens to be.

[00:06:33] Airtable is very popular currently and I’m a big fan. But it doesn’t scale well and that’s part of the problem. So it scales well for data, like literal data, and then if you partner it with Offsite storage, so you don’t reach all your limits, it can actually store media data as well, so that can be helpful.

[00:06:56] But it is, they’ve really changed their pricing structure so that the media, too much media will cost you. And the key thing there, with some of Airtable, I don’t, I’m not super up on Salesforce’s pricing, because most of the clients I work with are non profits. But and Salesforce gives a free non profit, obviously, because…

[00:07:16] It’s got that gateway drug. The scale for pricing, it like, is per user. And it gets really pricey, really quickly. Even for just users within an office. Or within a company. For example, I have various artist directories. It is not feasible to have that data managed. In an, in Airtable, for example.

[00:07:42] Or to have them have an account. Or with Salesforce. If… If there is user data that the user needs to interact with not the client, whose site it is, then the website is still the place to go, because turns out you can make as many users as you want, and you don’t pay per user, and they can log in, and there are also So many great ways, so many great extensions, and plugins, and ways to manage users, control what they see, give them custom logins, and then you’re only sending them to your website.

[00:08:18] That’s something I run in with a lot, is that if you’re doing user data management, or user generated content, These off site accounts aren’t necessarily the place you want to have your source of truth. In some of my clients, we have the user component is managed. All of the profiles and all that is managed on the website, and then their other data is managed like even their posts and pages I’m building out for a client is managed in the Airtable.

[00:08:53] It’s, yeah, it’s really interesting because we’ve been storing data. In our websites, in our data tables, in our MySQL tables are post meta. It’s loaded . Yeah. So it’s interesting to be taking the data out of that context. I’ve always said, when I used to teach like intro word WordPress classes for small businesses, I would explain WordPress as a fancy data inputter.

[00:09:26] Jason Tucker: I remember those talks.

[00:09:27] Sé Reed: Yeah and that is what Airtable is now also, right? It’s really interesting that all of these new Airtable is not that new, but it really has all of these database SASSes, all these SASSy databases have really been adding features, and they’re all still proprietary, but you can get your data in and out.

[00:09:54] With APIs, and just automations, and all the stuff and everyone’s doing exports and imports. So the the claim to fame, or the use of, I have used WordPress databases and WordPress websites as Repositories for business data for many a year

[00:10:17] Jason Cosper: Sure.

[00:10:18] Sé Reed: and that cause that was the best choice.

[00:10:21] That was what was out there Do you, when you, I know this is probably depending on like the project, but like, how do you determine if you’re going to do a per transaction and I’m using transaction, not in the the money sense but yeah, in the sense of a change occurred and now you’re going to push or pull that change versus a like a full export, full import.

[00:10:50] Jason Tucker: Replacing all the data one way or the other. What’s, like, how do you determine what’s what, which one you’re going to end up doing when you start planning this out?

[00:11:01] Sé Reed: I usually end up doing both, because the initial load is the one time everything goes in and then, but for the the ongoing stuff, it’s all trigger based. It’s all if someone comes in and updates this. For example, I’m updating a website that is for public art. And when these different projects go through different stages, right? First they’re in planning, and then they’re in the call to artist phase, and then they’re in whatever’s after that. And there’s different content for each of those things. But the really key thing here is that it is very useful for my client in this particular, actually many of my clients, but this particular client I’m talking about, to save those various iterations.

[00:11:52] Because again, if you work with non profits, a lot of that is grant based and you have to provide reporting. So that, that data becomes valuable. And I think with small businesses or, and I don’t know. Again, I would also probably say for larger corporations, but keeping marketing content or keeping page content around, not posts, which are going to stay there, right?

[00:12:20] But the page content you use per season or the it’s Christmas now, you have to rewrite all of your holiday content, or can you just go back to your database and be like, oh now I’m going to load this stuff on. And interestingly, patterns could also be. A space to save that data, right?

[00:12:41] You can be like, here’s my holiday Black Friday patterns that I’m going to stick on there and then just pull it out after the holiday and then put in your Christmas one and then put in your new year’s one or whatever, and then pull it out. You could save the data that way. I am not a fan of the way the data looks anymore because you it’s so hard to export cleanly.

[00:13:04] You can with WP, all import or export. But I have really been moving away from storing. That sort of legacy, it’s not really legacy, it’s like reusable content. So it makes, have it be part of patterns, but I don’t know, with the naming change from reusable blocks to patterns, the connotation of it being very design based instead of content based.

[00:13:34] Jason Tucker: yeah

[00:13:35] Sé Reed: It really shifts that. And I don’t know if that’s a great way to use Patterns, to store that content. Anyway, I various clients can have different phases of content push and pull, and then they have a record of what they’ve done. So you can put it into the website, and then have that pull into your database.

[00:13:59] And then store it that way, or you can put it in your database and then push it to the website and have it overwrite various things based on various criteria. It’s the most important part of this is the mapping. Understanding the flow, if you’re just automating things and moving around data first of all, you can get very tangled.

[00:14:23] Very quickly. I’m actually really interested before I go keep just talking. I’m really interested Cosper, from a performance standpoint, about data, like text data, especially, in a MySQL database is minimal, right? It’s not going to really impact anything. But if you’re not loading stuff onto a page, let’s say it’s just stored on the site, some hosts aren’t big fans of you storing.

[00:14:57] Jason Cosper: right.

[00:14:59] Sé Reed: I know I get a lot of angry emails from WP Engine about certain points that has too much data and I’m like I’m gonna get them on AWS at some point. Cool, you’re jets. But I know that’s a problem from a server standpoint, so I don’t,

[00:15:16] Jason Cosper: Sure.

[00:15:17] Sé Reed: how does that factor in your mind?

[00:15:21] Jason Cosper: So I it’s interesting that you brought this up because I was about to I was about to ask you. So once you import this data from the source of truth in is it just going into Posts and PostMeta is it going into its own custom table, which may be a little bit more forgiving, like how?

[00:15:48] Sé Reed: It’s in my case, with all love and apologies to Scott Kingsley Clark, it’s going into ACF. That’s actually really interesting because when I told this to Tucker, he goes, Oh, so it’s from Airtable to ACF. And I was like, Airtable to ACF? No, it goes from Airtable to the website, to the WordPress.

[00:16:06] I didn’t think of ACF as like the receiver of

[00:16:10] Jason Tucker: destination,

[00:16:11] Sé Reed: data. Yeah. I thought of the website as it, because ACF to me, advanced custom field, is just it is, I don’t build websites without them. So yeah, ACF is the front end for the custom field editor

[00:16:27] Jason Tucker: Custom fields. Yeah.

[00:16:29] Sé Reed: Is that still stored? I haven’t been tracking where it’s stored lately. I know everyone’s been moving stuff around. Is ACF data still stored in Postbeta? Hanging

[00:16:38] Jason Cosper: think so.

[00:16:39] Sé Reed: Yeah.

[00:16:39] Jason Tucker: Yeah. Probably just serialized post

[00:16:42] Jason Cosper: So in, in that case, from a performance perspective it is it’s not okay I don’t

[00:16:55] Sé Reed: You don’t have to be nice. You can tell me I’m doing it wrong. That’s all right.

[00:16:58] Jason Cosper: no you’re not doing it wrong. The thing that I would suggest in this scenario once, once you start to scale out to I have no idea how, and we don’t need to get into revealing client stuff, but once you scale out to a particular point where you have your hosts, like WP Engine, like coming back at you saying Hey.

[00:17:25] Maybe you either need to find another home or pay us more money for more resources. At that point this isn’t like a true fix it patch, but something that’ll get you to where you need to go and maybe help you along the way until you can get that client on AWS or on something a little bit better is, can talk about that next. Okay, sorry.

[00:17:55] Yeah. But we, so what I would do in that scenario, if stuff is just going into posts and post meta and et cetera, is there are methods and there’s this real mouthful of a plugin. It’s like index WP, MySQL something,

[00:18:22] Sé Reed: you’ve recommended me that one before.

[00:18:24] Jason Cosper: I’ll yeah I’ll make sure

[00:18:26] Sé Reed: to push any of those buttons. I actually have a site where, after we had this conversation, I loaded a bunch of it’s actually on a site not the same client I was talking about, but a different site that I was moving a bunch of data and using their old database, but which was a disaster and I really need I was like, I know there is bad stuff in this database I can see it but I’m not going to go through it manually.

[00:18:51] So I loaded the plugins in, I still haven’t pushed the buttons because I’m

[00:18:57] Jason Cosper: you don’t. You don’t need to be scared. What index WP MySQL what index WP MySQL for speed does is it has a number of common indexes that basically make lookups for particular types of data faster. So

[00:19:17] Sé Reed: of an index, next

[00:19:19] Jason Cosper: yeah.


[00:19:22] Jason Cosper: It’s an index for and it covers a lot more than just your post meta table, but in this scenario, that’s like really the one that you’d want to focus on, but it will go and create indexes that basically say okay, here is where everything that matches.

[00:19:43] And especially if you’re importing content, piecemeal, like along the way Oh, something got updated. So now you have a record for something that’s right near the top of your post meta table, and then you’ve added this new record down at the bottom. Instead of making your database search through all of the records to see what one’s match, it goes, Oh, okay.

[00:20:10] Return everything with post ID three 56. And it. Jason Tucker says, Oh, okay, I know where all the 356 stuff is because I already have an index for that. And then it just returns the data and it returns it so much quicker.

[00:20:27] Sé Reed: That’s performance on the on the user side, right? That’s where it’s coming. Like, how does that, so I don’t let me, on the backend, let’s talk about the backend. So one, there’s the idea when I do have, for this client that is having overages on WP Engine, that shall remain unnamed, they keep saying, oh, this is going to affect your performance.

[00:20:50] And I’m like if I’m not calling those files or whatever, it’s because artists. Upload insane files, even with I have a five megabyte limit, but they’re all five megabytes , right? And so I don’t actually pull those images for the front end. The front end never sees those, but they’re on the server.

[00:21:11] And so the see now we’re talking about like performance again, it always comes down to does.

[00:21:18] and the, but it’s on the server, right? You’re, if you’re storing it on the server, this giant image, instead of like just the thumbnail. But you’re not calling it. Does that, what does that affect? Which performance index does that touch?

[00:21:33] Jason Cosper: It mainly,

[00:21:35] Sé Reed: annoying one that they don’t want to store it. They

[00:21:38] Jason Cosper: it and in, in the case of WPengine, I don’t know how much they still push this or whatever, but they do have something that they, at least when I was working there. And at this point, that was like seven or eight years ago this thing called large FS where they will take large files.

[00:22:02] Sé Reed: They still have it.

[00:22:03] Jason Cosper: Yeah,

[00:22:04] Sé Reed: But they also bought WP Media Pro, I believe it’s called, that does very similar things. And I was actually I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I was expressing my confusion to them actually at WordCamp US this year, to the, they’re like we don’t know what you’re talking about because it’s the people at the booth.

[00:22:24] And I was like can you just tell your developers to work on this program, please? Because I need help.

[00:22:30] Jason Cosper: large FS is interesting because while I do the plugin and think it’s great I think that the large FS solution, as long as they still like actively support it is a more. Interesting thing because it works at the server level instead of worrying about WordPress and the PHP of it all.

[00:22:52] Basically like the rewriting, everything happens, the uploading, everything in the background happens at the server level. And it’s like shoving those resources off to S the S3 bucket you’ve basically given them. That, the reason that particular client on WPengine, because I know about that plugin is it doesn’t work with gravity forms. This was actually what I was upset with them about and speaking of syncing your data or getting data in and getting data out when I originally built this for my client, which was like, again, like six or seven years ago now, oh my gosh, that’s why I’m rebuilding it.

[00:23:34] Sé Reed: It is it was all through Gravity Forms, and so I’m like taking in all this data and it’s like completely not useful for that particular instance. And then right when I had found WP Media Pro, which I believe it was called they bought it. And then I was like, wait, what’s happening? Wait, should I buy it?

[00:23:56] Or should I just, is it included? Is it free? Is it part of my package now? Is it this other plugin? I don’t know. But it, this is exactly why though, it’s really interesting because when you put something into an external database and Airtable has issues with people storing things and then retrieving them.

[00:24:14] A lot of stuff that was happening was people were using AirTable as a CMS they were pulling things from linking to images that were in AirTable from their websites, putting them in newsletters really using AirTable’s as a repository. And they put the kibosh on that real quick.

[00:24:35] Maybe not real quick, but recently actually last year, I think and recent times last year same. So anyway they have taken that away and so it really lends itself to integration with an S three bucket. Which leads me to my other question, which is that, is there an alternative to AWS

[00:24:58] Is it all. Amazon Web,

[00:24:59] Jason Tucker: lots of them. And they all

[00:25:01] Sé Reed: Okay, we need to do a way of storing stuff and the way of querying for that, those buckets.

[00:25:08] a, we should do a DevBranch episode on offsite storage because

[00:25:14] Jason Cosper: I can I will just for the audience watching. And so we don’t leave them hanging. You can look at Wasabi, which isn’t as dependable,

[00:25:25] Sé Reed: Wait, the whole point is we were hanging, so they come back. That was supposed to be a promo for DevBranch.

[00:25:31] Jason Cosper: No. I’m gonna Why don’t you just tell them and get in the Discord, give them all the

[00:25:37] Okay. Okay. And I will just add one more. I will give a shout out to digital ocean spaces.

[00:25:44] That’s what I use for the Mastodon server that I’ve run on simian. rodeo that really it, it handles all of our storage needs. And is I think as long as you keep it over and under 250 gigabytes, it’s five bucks a month.

[00:26:04] Jason Tucker: Dang.

[00:26:05] Jason Cosper: on.

[00:26:05] Sé Reed: like that it’s a set price. A lot of my clients are like, so how much is AWS going to cost? I’m like, probably less than 10 a month, or like a couple pennies, depends. And they’re like, that’s not a number. I’m like, I know, I’m sorry.

[00:26:19] Jason Cosper: I got it. I got digital ocean spaces up to a. About a terabyte of storage. And I think it was costing me like 47 a month. So

[00:26:30] Sé Reed: I don’t even understand what a terabyte is. Like, how many Portraits of an artist is that, I do not,

[00:26:37] Jason Tucker: Right,

[00:26:38] Sé Reed: search. It’s like trying to understand the difference between a million dollars and a billion dollars, and then you go to a trillion dollars and I’m like I don’t know what you’re saying anymore.

[00:26:47] Jason Tucker: big difference.

[00:26:47] Sé Reed: The scale has exceeded my capability of imagination.

[00:26:53] Jason Cosper: This conversation is going very much whenever I tell Sarah that I upgraded our storage at the house and I’m like, Hey so on our NAS we have. 14, we have 14 terabytes of storage. Please start like backing up your new computer to the thing. And she goes, I don’t even know what a terabyte is I

[00:27:19] Jason Tucker: even know how many gallons of gas go in my car, okay?

[00:27:22] Sé Reed: me, it sounds like an earth, it’s an earth of data. What is I don’t know, like what is, it is, I have, I literally, if there wasn’t a little number on the dashboards of my hosting service, I’m like I don’t know. It says the number. What’s that? It’s probably I do that on my phone too.

[00:27:45] You go look at like the storage and like the little fun little graph. Sure. That’s what it said. I, there’s so much trust involved in just I don’t know

[00:27:55] Jason Tucker: WordPress has to make five copies of that file though, for all the different sizes that it needs. So it’s okay. Everything will be just fine.

[00:28:02] Sé Reed: Yeah that’s why I’m asking about, originally, because you put these huge files on there, but I’m only using, on the front end the thumbnails that I’m calling, I’m not calling the whole thing, because that would be bonkers do I really care if I’m putting stuff on the server?

[00:28:21] WP Engine keeps telling me that I should care. And they’re like, you’re going to have bad performance problems. And I’m like, am I though? You don’t think I

[00:28:29] Jason Cosper: WP engine cares because they are using a cloud service provider that charges them through the nose for all the storage that their customers are using.

[00:28:40] Sé Reed: so

[00:28:41] Jason Cosper: So the last.

[00:28:42] Sé Reed: by using it as a storage repo. Got it. Got

[00:28:45] Jason Cosper: So any of these,

[00:28:47] Sé Reed: conversion then.

[00:28:48] Jason Cosper: yeah, any of these managed WordPress hosts that just are like, Oh, we run our stuff on AWS or Google cloud or whatever.

[00:28:57] They’re paying they’re probably getting a little bit of a reduced rate than if you or I were to go to Google cloud and go, Hey,

[00:29:09] Sé Reed: hope so.

[00:29:09] Jason Cosper: like I, I want. Yeah, exactly. So they’re making it up in in bulk or whatever by bringing that many customers, but they’re still paying more than if they had their own infrastructure, they own their own hard drives, everything else.

[00:29:28] It is in their interest for you to keep your files as compressed and everything is possible. And in the case of working with artists that’s just not always gonna.

[00:29:43] Jason Tucker: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:29:44] Sé Reed: It doesn’t matter how many plugins I install, somehow they find a way to upgrade. I’m like, how do you do this? I’ve been thinking about this. So I think what I’ve been building out for various clients is actually So there’s headless WordPress, and this is bodiless WordPress. It’s like the opposite, right?

[00:30:04] Because headless WordPress is you’re using the back end for data management, and then it goes out to something that’s not WordPress, right?

[00:30:13] Jason Tucker: yeah, we’ll try

[00:30:14] Sé Reed: So what I’m doing instead is I’m pulling stuff so the head, it’s just a head. So this is like the suspended head of WordPress, which I don’t know, maybe that’s not the right way to go about it because everyone’s take the head off and it’s better.

[00:30:30] So now I’m just literally like bodiless WordPress. Maybe I should get that URL because that’s really funny to me.

[00:30:36] Jason Cosper: Are you familiar, I’m pretty sure you will be, but with the concept of an exquisite corpse,

[00:30:43] Sé Reed: Oh yeah. Like the poem.

[00:30:46] Jason Cosper: Or like a drawing where you fold a sheet in thirds, and then someone draws the head part, the body part, and the legs

[00:30:56] Jason Tucker: Yes.

[00:30:58] Jason Cosper: Instead of headless WordPress, you are building an exquisite corpse

[00:31:06] Sé Reed: ExquisiteCorps, wait, WPExquisiteCorps. com right now. Please someone buy it for me. It’s almost the holidays.

[00:31:13] Jason Tucker: So are you saying that like the legs of this corpse or the whatever this corpse is actually being hosted through a, like a Wait, I know the legs.

[00:31:26] or

[00:31:26] Sé Reed: Yeah, like the legs are the legs are the S3 bucket?

[00:31:30] table and then the body is the AWS or the digital ocean and then the head is WordPress on the managed hosting server.

[00:31:39] Jason Cosper: yeah I’m pretty sure that there are a couple people in our discord who are twitching right now at

[00:31:47] Jason Tucker: Yeah.

[00:31:47] Jason Cosper: of Oh, man.

[00:31:51] Sé Reed: like, you are doing this backwards.

[00:31:53] Jason Cosper: no, okay. So say we’ve laid out that you’re doing. Airtable and pulling stuff into WordPress that way. What are you using to actually pull stuff and sync?

[00:32:04] Sé Reed: to that part of this thing. I’m using multiple things in different, for different clients. Cause you know, why use one thing when you can use all of them. In some cases, I’m using Zapier, right? Good ol Zapier. In another case, I’m using WP AirSync, which is Has been a very pos like, they were like, a very startup y plugin, and they’ve been adding features like, wild, so they’re like, refining your pricing and adding pro versions, it’s like, it’s these automations are like, the wild west, because these plugins are like, popping up, and then, you watch them develop, because they launch with the the MVP of their stuff, so you have to pick a horse, and go with it, you’re like, I hope this one works.

[00:32:51] And please don’t mess this up, because I’m counting on you. WP AirSync, which links Airtable to WordPress, with using I’m assuming the APIs. This is the other thing and I wanted to talk about this, but I could just write my own API scripts, right? But I like the API is so problematic and ever changing that I’m like, I really want the plugins to man, like they can monitor that and keep their plugin up to date with that, and I don’t have to do that.

[00:33:23] Another one that I’m using and use and has also just been thrown features in there constantly and upgrading their systems is. WPwebhooks. So they are, in addition to having the they have a bunch of integrations, so you can do it through If This Then That, or Zapier, or any of the automators. Or the third party automators, but you can also do it directly by hooking up direct triggers and webhooks.

[00:33:53] It can receive all of that data directly, or you can go through the third party. You can literally make a daisy chain of data, and in some cases, because sometimes it’s going… Some of the data, like I’m taking it from a place called Submittable, which is a, like a grant application kind of place, right?

[00:34:11] So data’s coming into there and I actually split it off. Some of it goes to our Air Force and then some of it comes to the website. So it’s really this is why I do so much mapping. It really is like this daisy chain of stuff. Like you’ve got all these like extension cords plugged into each other and things can go wrong.

[00:34:31] Obviously Zaps can stop working, or the plugin gets updated

[00:34:35] Jason Tucker: like you could build a race condition as well, where you are essentially sending and receiving at the same time, and it just becomes an infinite loop.

[00:34:43] Sé Reed: God, it hasn’t happened yet, but thank you. I’m glad that you pointed that out.

[00:34:47] Jason Tucker: Now you know the term race condition.

[00:34:49] Sé Reed: Excellent. Exciting, waiting for that to happen. But this is why it’s been really interesting, too, because this is, I guess it’s not, it doesn’t feel that new to me, but I think it’s just everyone’s like it’s finally getting into the more commercial where the solutions are proliferating out there.

[00:35:08] And it feels I don’t know, just like early days in the web, where you’re watching it happen, instead of just these plugins that are like, or the early days of WordPress anyway, instead of these plugins that are like, Just all built out in these huge behemoths and have 12, 000 extensions over here.

[00:35:28] So that part’s kind of fun because it feels like you’re in a more scrappy part of the development world. And you can pick a lot of you can choose the wrong choices. And then you can build out an entire zap flow that then breaks in one particular spot. Because something gets disconnected, or Zapier updates all of its calls, which it has happened also.

[00:35:54] The more plugs that you get together, the more, what are

[00:35:59] Jason Tucker: Where did it break in this chain of, yeah

[00:36:03] Jason Cosper: To make it holiday appropriate the Chris, the Christmas classic a Christmas story when Ralphie’s dad is getting ready to light up the Christmas tree the collection of plugs, extension cords cables on cables and then what happens, he blows a fuse.

[00:36:30] That’s it.

[00:36:31] Jason Tucker: right.

[00:36:32] Sé Reed: Yeah, that has happened. Luckily, it’s not as dramatic. Things just go brrrt. Someone gets an error message, and then someone does or does not tell me, necessarily.

[00:36:42] Jason Tucker: That fuses the web host in this instance, because if you have all these, if you have a, IFTTT with a Zapier, with an automate, with a blah, blah, blah, and they’re all talking to the same endpoint.

[00:36:54] Sé Reed: well, there are different endpoints, actually. WPHooks, WPWebHooks, this is one of the updates that they did. They used to have one one… Like webhook per function and now you create a unique one for every single thing. So you’re like, woo, let me just add some numbers and letters here.

[00:37:15] But it is I don’t, I’m not saying it’s the best way, right? Cause I don’t know what you, I know Airtable is going to be around. I know Salesforce is going to be around. I don’t like using Salesforce for a multitude of reasons mostly philosophical. But Airtable is it’s, There’s actually conversations that I’ve been having about, are we going to use the Airtable, because they have interfaces now, are we going to use the Airtable interface to display this data? Or are we going to use the website? So that’s a whole nother use case, right? Because there are some use cases, in this case elected officials or certain partners that you can then give the Airtable interface to. You’re completely bypassing the website. What is data? And what is a website?

[00:38:06] A website this is getting really, it’s I’ve always said in all of my talks that websites are content. That is what they are. Because without content, there’s no website. There’s just nothing. You can have anything coded, but unless there’s something in there to show… There’s literally nothing.

[00:38:24] So if the content is just about how it’s being displayed then you start getting into the static site stuff and is that a website? Is the website something you can log into that you are managing and storing? This is almost really the separation of website and CMS to a degree that it hasn’t been separated before, right?

[00:38:50] You’re con like, Because now I’m using Airtable in some of these cases, and Salesforce reluctantly, as content management systems. But then connecting to another content management system, which is just really a framework for the website.

[00:39:08] Jason Tucker: What I will tell you that’s good about the way that you’re going about this is because of the fact that you’re syncing it, you’re, it fails, it fails gracefully.

[00:39:19] Sé Reed: It does fail very gracefully, yeah. All of my things, but I am a graceful fail failer.

[00:39:25] Jason Tucker: if you were embedding this, pulling it directly, like an embedded as an embedded thing, it would not fail gracefully.

[00:39:33] It would fail with a JavaScript error that says I can’t pull from this place, but at least you have a copy of it that’s stored on the local server that you’ve done that

[00:39:43] Sé Reed: server that is, yeah.

[00:39:44] Jason Tucker: Yeah, so that’s

[00:39:45] Sé Reed: your source of

[00:39:46] Jason Tucker: much better.

[00:39:47] Sé Reed: It’s not bad, it just, it’s really interesting, and I think that it’s it does point to this sort of, like I said, philosophical question about… What is a website? Is it just something you access through a URL? Because that can be apps too, right?

[00:40:03] Now these days. So

[00:40:04] Jason Tucker: Yeah.

[00:40:05] Sé Reed: it’s, it just such interesting times we’re living in. And this actually goes to the what is WordPress conversation as well, right? Because if what is WordPress is defined as a CMS, then we’re competing with Airtable or we’re competing with Salesforce, but it’s not really. The best CMS anymore, like the best place to maybe it’s a good place to manage your content, but store your content, maybe not.

[00:40:32] But are you really storing it in your WordPress? I guess you are. If it’s in your database tables, that’s in, in the WordPress. Not just on the server.

[00:40:43] Jason Tucker: But just think if if Airtable supported blocks, then you could build all that stuff in Airtable and hit sync. And then all of those comments get copied over to the website as a post.

[00:40:57] Sé Reed: No you have these interfaces that essentially are websites like, and they are

[00:41:02] Jason Tucker: as your front end.

[00:41:03] Sé Reed: data. You can have a little dashboard essentially that you can share publicly. They don’t have pretty addresses they don’t have that comes down to does any, Google took all the domains off of all the local the specific URLs out of the browser does that even matter if the URL is pretty anymore? it has a redirect, you can click a pretty URL that then redirects to whatever Airtable interface it is. Does that matter? don’t know. I just, I think it’s so interesting. I wish we would have more. We have these conversations, but I wish we would have more of these conversations across the industry, or even across WordPress, because I feel like we’re so myopic, and we’re just like, oh, this is the way we’ve done things, and this is what we’re building, and this is what we’re focusing on, and it’s like a five year old plan, that we’re like.

[00:41:55] Endlessly moving toward, and it’s


[00:42:01] Sé Reed: Things are changing, and solutions are changing, and we should be more nimble than we are. And,


[00:42:09] Sé Reed: We should be able to adapt to all of these different ways of managing data in order to stay on top of it, really, in order to stay if we were working on being a better front end.

[00:42:23] Then everyone in the Discord wouldn’t be rolling their eyes when I say I’m using a only head WordPress or something, I it’s interesting. I don’t, I think it sucks that people and a lot of developers would say that taking the data and stuffing it into these WordPress tables is, not the right way to go about it and it should use a static site generator and blah, blah, blah, like WordPress should be able to take that space. You know what I mean? That should be a way it should be able to do that easily. And maybe it can as we get more lightweight with some of the new themes and, but I don’t know.

[00:43:02] The way the posts look, I don’t know if we can we? I don’t know. They’re so ugly, that data.

[00:43:08] But I care.

[00:43:10] Jason Cosper: I was doing some digging around cause I was like, there’s gotta be some way to do ACF, like not into like from what I’ve seen, like in their documentation they’ll put stuff in term meta, they’ll put it in post meta. It, it all depends. But there is it looks like it’s what, like 149.

[00:43:35] A year but that will dump your ACF data into custom database tables.

[00:43:42] Sé Reed: Oh wow, it like makes its own little database tables for it.

[00:43:46] Interesting.

[00:43:48] Then I will be going from Airtable to the plug in, the connector plug in to ACF to custom tables. I’m just going to add another little plug in to my daisy chain here.

[00:44:01] Jason Cosper: right,

[00:44:02] Jason Tucker: Yeah, you’ll have to build something that queries those database tables directly that circumvents ACF entirely and then displays it on some app or

[00:44:10] Sé Reed: Yeah, I was like, now how do you display that data on the front end? I’m interested. Is it just the same ACF data in a different table? And does that…

[00:44:17] Jason Tucker: Yeah.

[00:44:18] Sé Reed: That’s so interesting. There’s so many ways to build things, y’all.

[00:44:22] Jason Tucker: I know. It’s funny. Cause like the way I was envisioning this topic was very like software focused. And the thing was is that I think we would be doing a disservice by having it be a software focus. Like here’s all the plugins you should go download. No. It’s your job to go test this stuff out.

[00:44:41] Say give you a couple of them to play with, but really like none of these things work for everything.

[00:44:46] Sé Reed: I think that is, that’s the job security. Everyone’s so worried about oh, it’s all going to take up. No, because this stuff requires understanding. It requires understanding of the software, requires understanding of the processes. It requires understanding of automations and data. And that is where the specialized knowledge comes in.

[00:45:05] If you’re not just building a website, there is no just building a website anymore. That doesn’t exist.

[00:45:13] Stop thinking about it that way.

[00:45:16] Jason Cosper: this is why, and it might surprise you to learn that for for 10 plus years now, there’s been that discussion about is somebody who just implements stuff in WordPress, a developer, and

[00:45:33] Sé Reed: matter? Are they valid?

[00:45:35] Jason Cosper: But okay. They may not have like hands on code.

[00:45:40] They’re like low or no code solution. People can, they call. A developer and like developer maybe a stretch. However, I do think that they are a very important part of the ecosystem because they have to tie all of this shit together. They have

[00:46:01] Sé Reed: And sometimes it is shit, by the way. Just because sometimes developers are like, I’m just going to shove stuff in the meta post, post meta table. And then you’re like, thanks. Now I have to figure out how to extract it and use it. Like practitioner, by the way, I do like to point out that I do also code.

[00:46:20] And it’s not just CSS. I do

[00:46:22] Jason Tucker: Yeah, but you don’t want to build the whole, you said this earlier. You don’t want to build the entire product that you are going to be the only customer of, and you’re definitely not trying to go and build a thing to make it be a whole new business because you already have a business that you’re doing other stuff

[00:46:35] Sé Reed: no, I do not want to support

[00:46:37] Jason Tucker: Yeah. Let this be somebody else’s thing.

[00:46:40] Sé Reed: That’s the interesting thing about WordPress and developer, right? You can be a developer, but use all these tools because you can’t support all of it. And supporting the constant updating of all the tools. Is it’s not just about updating, clicking an update or enabling auto updates, right?

[00:47:00] It’s really about the, like the data and the processes, like some a couple, it might work for a couple upgrades and then you’re like, Oh, look, someone updated someone, something fundamental. And now I have to go rewire everything. I almost feel like an electrician sometimes or like one of those old school, like operators where they’re like, and you like plug in all the different cords and you’re like, I’m going to connect this to this and this to

[00:47:24] Jason Tucker: Yeah. If I had a

[00:47:26] Sé Reed: No

[00:47:26] Jason Tucker: I would definitely be calling it a practice. I don’t think I’d call it an agency. I would steal from the medical industry and call it a practice. And then you can just get away with it.

[00:47:35] Sé Reed: I do a lot of counseling, so that actually works. I’m

[00:47:39] Jason Tucker: Right.

[00:47:40] Sé Reed: I’m a great practitioner, I love that

[00:47:43] Jason Cosper: I would say to go even simpler than what Tom suggested is just say that we’re all WordPress workers. Maybe that’s a little socialist or communist of me

[00:47:57] Sé Reed: Oh yeah. But

[00:48:00] We’re all the same.

[00:48:01] Jason Cosper: yeah, we’re all workers. We all do work with WordPress.

[00:48:06] Jason Tucker: So it was like a WP and then there’s like a sickle.

[00:48:11] Jason Cosper: Okay.

[00:48:11] Jason Tucker: And then a hammer on the other side

[00:48:13] Jason Cosper: I’m gonna see if I can get the the internationalized domain name.

[00:48:18] Sé Reed: Please do. Can we be like the ICWP or something like that? That would be awesome.

[00:48:24] Jason Tucker: With us the clock running out here. We wanted to invite you folks over to our discord and come hang out with us on our aftercooler.

[00:48:34] Sé Reed: Tell me how I’m doing it wrong, or

[00:48:36] Jason Tucker: How do you get to it? You can go to wpwatercooler. com slash aftercooler and you’ll be able to find us over there and then come and hang out with us in our audio chat and discord.

[00:48:47] Sé Reed: Although my

[00:48:48] Jason Tucker: have your phone, you can actually drive to your destination with it playing and you don’t have to look at the phone or anything. You just talk. I did it for an hour and it worked out great. So if you need to get someplace right after this show. That’s the way to do

[00:49:00] Sé Reed: company while he drives around. Love y’all!

[00:49:06] Jason Tucker: Depot with me, that’s where I’m going next.

[00:49:08] Sé Reed: Take your listeners to Home Depot Day.

[00:49:13] Jason Tucker: yep. Yep. That’s it.

[00:49:15] Sé Reed: Alright, we love you all. Thanks for being here and listening to us jabber.

[00:49:18] Jason Tucker: We do. We do love you all. Talk to you later. Here’s our outro. Go over to our website at wpwatercooler. com slash subscribe. We’d really appreciate it. If you like this content, leave us a comment. We’d love that. And find us over in our discord. That’s where we’re hanging out right after this. Talk to y’all later.

[00:49:40] You have a good one. Bye bye.

[00:49:44] Sé Reed: Have a good day!

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