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Modern Tribe’s Zach Tirrell on Building Loxi

Online calendars make it easy for your audience to connect with, get details on, and register for your events. Here at Modern Tribe, we know calendars—we’re the folks behind the popular WordPress plugin The Events Calendar: a free, open-source, and ultra-functional calendar that you install and manage yourself.

But we’ve also just launched Loxi—a brand-new online events calendar that can be embedded on any website. Loxi is a premium web service for creating and maintaining events calendars on Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, WordPress…you name it! It’s design-forward, customizable to your brand, and looks great right out of the gate.

Zach Tirrell is our Director of Product at Modern Tribe, which makes him our boss and the guy responsible for making both of these products a success. He recently sat down with Dan Knauss of Post Status to talk about these products and about how Loxi wouldn’t exist without The Events Calendar. (The interview was originally posted in their awesome newsletter.)

The Zach Tirrell – Post Status Interview

Dan: Loxi has been in development for over a year, and The Events Calendar has been around for about eight years—it’s the oldest and most popular calendar plugin, by far. What motivated Modern Tribe to introduce Loxi now? Was it simply market saturation?

Zach: We’ve regularly fielded inquiries from folks who are interested in solutions for platforms in addition to WordPress. This is no surprise given the growth of solutions like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, etc. Loxi is all about bridging that divide with an easy to use, platform-agnostic calendar solution that’s as capable as it is easy to use.

Our Events Calendar users should know that the WordPress plugins that they know and love aren’t going anywhere. In fact, Loxi is powered by The Events Calendar itself, so Tribe’s dedication to our TEC and plugins foundation will only continue! (Our hope is that Loxi becomes one of the largest installations of our plugin suite. This would allow us even more direct experience in defining and developing around the features most important to our customers; it will also help us to scale the solution.)

How close are the two codebases, and how does this work out for your development team’s workflow? Do you have people tasked to either TEC or Loxi exclusively, or do the same people work on both? I’m trying to think if there are any precedents for this being done before in the WordPress ecosystem—did you have any particular models or pioneers influencing you, or was this largely a new path for you?

On the backend, Loxi is an unmodified version of The Events Calendar and Events Calendar PRO. We are handling some adjustments by hooking into our own actions and filters, but the main goal is that anything we do there should be contributed back.

We did build a plugin that integrates TEC with Elasticsearch which we are distributing in private beta at the moment. However, the front end of Loxi is built (almost) entirely in React—that code is all specific to this service. That being said, the designer who worked on Loxi is now leading design for our Gutenberg compatibility and many concepts transferred—there is a nice feedback loop here.

The first thing we did last year was build a standalone team that is focused primarily on Loxi. The lead backend dev we recruited for this project is Scott Kingsley Clark, who many will know from his work on Pods. This team focuses specifically on our SaaS projects, while our plugins team is committed to continuous improvement on the plugins side.

Regarding precedent: follows a similar model. We are certainly inspired by their approach to a hosted WordPress where they can experiment with the interface and the data/feedback to inform overall platform direction.

Were there any big surprises in what you learned about your team, your tools, or WordPress—any unexpected challenges or results that really stand out in the process of planning, building, and launching Loxi? What keeps you limber, motivated, focused, and reasonably sane when the going gets rough?

Forming a completely new team was probably the biggest challenge—people are almost always more complicated than technology. We learned to be a team that plans and scopes together, communicates often, and works through challenges as they arise. Since perfection isn’t possible and iteration is always required, it’s definitely helpful to have humility and a sense of humor along the journey, too.

Which is Right for You?

The Events Calendar is a beloved plugin that we’ve been building for over 8 years. It’s here to stay, and will continue to evolve along with WordPress itself in the years to come. So if you’re looking for a free, open-source plugin to add to your WordPress site, The Events Calendar is highly-rated, actively-developed, and available to download today.

If you’re hoping to have an impeccably-designed calendar that looks sharp, loads fast, and is easy to use on almost any website platform in the world, give Loxi a try instead—we’re confident you’ll love it!

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