Uncanny Automator started off as a really exciting side project for the Uncanny Owl team. It began as a concept around how to create flexible, personalized learning that went beyond what the big LMS players could offer. In conceptualizing that model, we realized that we could do a lot more with it if we took it beyond just elearning. After all, if we could connect an LMS plugin with an ecommerce plugin to build certain workflows, why not a forms plugin, membership, events, even Zapier?
And that’s what we did. We spent a good part of 2018, and a huge amount of time, building a really solid product that connected plugins together in new and interesting ways. Over the first 6 months we released a number of updates that improved performance significantly, added new plugin support to the mix, and really stabilized the 1.x branch into something that was quite mature and reliable.
Planning Uncanny Automator 2.0
The first 6 months of Automator gave us great insight into how people wanted to use it and just how much was lacking. The fact that users need to be signed in to the site to initiate triggers really frustrated a lot of early customers and limited the plugin’s utility.
That’s when we started planning Uncanny Automator 2.0 and slowly building out its new features. It’s been a far longer journey than we hoped, and we know the delays have disappointed some of our customers. We ran into a lot of complexities and some very difficult user experience considerations as we built out the feature set. We strongly believe it will be worth it and that Automator users will be thrilled with where we landed.
We’re still not quite ready for release, but it is finally getting very close and we’re ready to share more details about what’s coming.
New in Automator 2.0
The next release of Uncanny Automator includes dozens of new features, but there are a handful of highlights that really going to be game-changers for WordPress sites. Here are the ones we think are the most exciting.
This features resolves the #1 complaint from current Automator users: recipes can only be triggered by signed in users. That meant that hooking into user registrations, anonymous form submissions and other situations where we couldn’t map a recipe to a WordPress user couldn’t be run. Now… anything is possible.
Why is this so important? Well, for one thing, it actually supports user creation. Now you can turn pretty much any form in a user registration form without having to buy or install extra plugins. Or maybe when a user is created in WordPress (no matter how it’s done), you want to run some actions on them: pass the data to Zapier, add them to a BuddyPress Group, sign them up for an introductory event. You can even map anonymous triggers to existing users, so things performed by anonymous users can cause actions to be performed on current WordPress users.
Things get really interesting with webhooks as triggers. With that in place, any external system can trigger things on a WordPress site. Sell a course on your favourite ecommerce platform, Uncanny Automator will create the user in WordPress, enroll them in a course, send them their access details and add them to a study group. Have a user submit their email address to a form on your marketing site, create the user on your WordPress membership site and add them to a membership level.
The initial Automator 2.0 release may only support Zapier (we don’t want broadening it to push back the release), but we’ll be continuing to add new scenarios for webhook triggers in the next few months.
The Magic Button
This is one of my favourite tools in the Uncanny Automator 2.0 arsenal. It is basically what it sounds like: Users can click a button to trigger any recipe. Choosing a Magic Button trigger gives you a shortcode to drop anywhere on your site. Whenever that button gets clicked, it runs the actions in the recipe. Users can add or remove themselves from groups, trigger an email requesting assistance, complete everything in a course or reset their progress—whatever you want. It makes it easy to create a button that can do almost anything without having to build it with custom development.
Stay tuned for more Automator news
We don’t want to give too much away just yet, but we hope hearing about these features will start to get you more excited about the upcoming 2.0 release.
Watch for more Uncanny Automator news in early October!