About 8 months ago, we had an idea that got us very excited. We wanted to personalize learning and give users the right direction and feedback they needed at the right time, and to do that, we started looking into an Trigger > Condition > Action model. We could watch for things to happen on an elearning site (a trigger), check a condition, then automatically do something else (an action) if the requirements were met. It’s a simple model, but with it, we would be able to completely personalize learning.
That led us to start thinking bigger. If we’re going to build this architecture for one plugin (LearnDash), why not just build it out and make it work with lots of WordPress plugins ? The possibilities seemed endless. We could make one plugin, or several plugins, trigger actions in other plugins. Not only would it would a system like that make it easy to connect plugins and automate workflows, but we could eliminate the need for one-off plugins that just connected 2 plugins together in very simple ways.
So, one thousand development hours and 6 months of development time later, we built the framework for a plugin that does all of this. It’s not ready for wide release yet, but we are starting a limited beta over at https://automatorplugin.com/. (Make sure to check it out if you want to participate.)
You may still be wondering why our team is more excited about this work then anything else we’ve ever done. The possibilities with this plugin really are unlimited, and every day we’re thinking of new ways the plugin might be used. Let’s start off with a possible eLearning workflow to demonstrate how powerful the plugin can be.
Suppose a student demonstrates very poor performance in a course and we want to automate an appropriate intervention to get the student back on track. With the Uncanny Automator plugin, we can create a “recipe” that does this: If a student scores below 50% on quizzes X and Y (these are the triggers), enroll the student in a remedial course, notify his or her Group Leader, delete his or her progress from the current course (so they can retake it), unenroll the user from the current course, and send an email to the student with feedback about what happened and appropriate next steps.
With our new plugin, creating that complex workflow can be set up in about 3 minutes with absolutely no coding required and no further administrator or instructor involvement. It’s just automatic. And every recipe is created using a clean, intuitive user interface.
The possibilities for this plugin aren’t just limited to eLearning. Here’s a sales example:
A user submits an application form, visits a landing page and completes a purchase (these are triggers). The system then adds the user to a private bbPress forum, changes the user’s WordPress role and adds a tag in Infusionsoft (these are all actions). That entire workflow can be in a single Automator recipe.
We want to get the Uncanny Automator plugin in everyone’s hands as soon as we can, but for now anyone interested is welcome to apply for the beta program.
We hope you’re as excited as we are about the possibilities this opens up for WordPress end users, administrators, and even developers (by integrating with only Automator, plugins could instantly be connected to 20 other plugins). Stay tuned for more Automator news in the next future!