21 Jan

WordPress, the good parts

Ever since I started using WordPress as something different than just a blogging platform, there was a clear upside and a downside to it.

What I love about WordPress

It’s amazingly easy to manage your content. Mainly for two reasons.

  1. Firstly, the backend has proven itself over and over again. It can be learned by anyone in a few hours. Which makes it almost unnecessary to explain to even inexperienced users.
  2. And secondly, custom post types and taxonomies are a concept that is a bit hard to grasp in the beginning. But it allows for a lot of flexibility. Additionally to Posts and Pages, WordPress can be used to manage a lot more things. Products? Events? Movies? … Pets? You name it.

What I hate like a lot less about WordPress

  1. The template system and querying data is a mess. There is this magical thing called “The Loop” that sets up something like a context for your template. Then you can get things like “the_content()” which automatically prints it out to the frontend. This probably makes the learning curve a little bit less steep for newcomers. But for people who are used to work with MVC patterns and like the separation of data, logic and content, it is a nightmare.
  2. There’s no real business logic layer. If you want to build application like features into your website you have the choice of adding it either to your template, or putting it in a plugin.
  3. You want to add automatic unit tests for the code that you wrote for your application? Sorry, we don’t do that here.

Separating one from the other

With the last releases, WordPress has been adding a feature to it’s core that has transformed web development in the last decade or so. It now finally has it’s own API. Using this piece of technology, you can finally get the data out of WordPress and display it in any application you want. A mobile app, another website, anything with access to the internet can now show what you are managing in side your WordPress website.

This allowed the people at Bocoup to build an amazing project. They had to add content management to an existing web application. But instead of trying to create their own, they looked to the old but reliable and proven WordPress backend. Using the API they were then able to manage their content inside WordPress, but display it on their custom built web application. They even created an npm package to call WordPress API from node applications under https://github.com/kadamwhite/wordpress-rest-api. And it’s as easy as this:

 

Conclusion

I think this is the biggest step forward that WordPress has made in the recent years. The code architecture might still not be to everyone’s taste. The template engine is still the same. But the API is breaking up that monolithic piece of software that it was. Adding a lot of flexibility to it and ultimately paving the way for a brighter future. I am really excited to see what other applications for it are going to come out in the future. And I would love to build an application that makes full use of this.

Here is the whole presentation K. Adam White gave at Wordcamp San Francisco: