What is happening with Watchful apps?

Published by Vic Drover on

What Is Happening With Watchful Apps

Watchful apps are plugins for your website. Once installed, they extend the functionality of Watchful itself. But since we don’t talk about them much, you may be wondering “What is happening with Watchful Apps?”.

Below we’ll give you some updates on Watchful Apps including some recent changes and future plans.

What are Watchful apps

One of Watchfuls original architectural principles was to discourage bloating of the Watchful client itself. A “light” client would not affect website performance as much as a more bloated package.

Of course, one way to achieve this is for the Watchful platform should be extensible.

Thus, we modified the Watchful Client so that plugins installed on remote sites could communicate with the Watchful platform. We then developed a set of plugins to use this new feature. We called this family of Watchful plugins apps.

For example, we created the Changed Files app. In the app, you can specify up to ten files to closely monitor for changes. Upon detecting a file change (the “trigger”), Watchful records a custom log entry and notifies the user by email (the “action”).

This combination of a trigger and an action allows you to carefully track file changes outside of those files already monitored in the Early Warning Audit.

Keeping the app separate from the Watchful Client keeps overall performance high for any sites not using the Changed Files app. Additionally, customizing the files monitored on a per-site basis maximizes the flexibility for the user.

The Changed Files app is just one example of how a trigger and action in Watchful. Besides the apps we created, anyone can build a custom Watchful app with their own triggers.

Watchful app usage

Some Watchful apps are very popular. The Single Sign-on and New Users app are both good examples of this.

However, the usage of niche apps is less common such as the Less Checker and Hikashop Sales apps.

Retiring Watchful apps

Apps are a good tool for customization by Watchful users. And they help us assess whether potential features have a broad interest among Watchful users. Well-used features are good candidates for permanent inclusion in the Watchful Client.

For example, the Old Backup Warning app developed into the Stale Backup detection tool we launched last year. As such, we have decided to retire this app as it is now redundant.

Retired apps no longer receive updates but they remain available on the Retired Apps page for anyone interested to still use them.

Retiring apps without a large user base is another change. This applies to apps used on less than 0.5% of sites in the Watchful platform. The apps that fit this cutoff are:

  • HikaShop Sales app
  • Less Checker app
  • New K2 Items app
  • New SEBLOD Items app
  • New ZOO Articles app
  • Virtuemart Sales app

The Retired Apps page will also host these apps.

App Usage 2021
Usage of existing Watchful apps in 2021.

What will happen with Watchful apps in the future?

Having refocused on the apps that remain relevant to 99% of the sites in Watchful, we have two short-term goals.

The first goal is to bring app technology to WordPress. Developing popular apps like Single Sign-on for WordPress looks promising.

Reviewing the active apps and deciding if they have mass appeal is the second goal. Again, Single Sign-on is a good candidate for consideration.

App ideas?

We’d love to hear your ideas for Watchful apps. Please post then in the comments below.

Categories: News

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