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The Future of Wordpress Development

Posted by Andrew Burkhart on Aug 31, 2017 5:46:16 PM

The Future of Wordpress.jpg

Flashback to 2003... Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little fork b2 cafelog and launch WordPress, a blogging platform. The ensuing ascent was gradual as they added plugins in 2004 with V1.2, a theme system in 2005 with 1.5, widgets with the new backend in 2008 with V2.5, and major releases every year since. 

 

Each new release brings new features and added support for modern web trends. Now, almost 15 years later with V4.8 being the most recent release, WordPress commands 27% of all sites on the web and 60% of all sites developed with a CMS. All that being said, modern developers still have some concerns.

 

First, the WordPress Core is built on PHP. While at one point the dominant language on the web, it has been eclipsed in both power and adoption by JavaScript. There are some caveats here as PHP is technically a server-side language and JavaScript is technically a client-side, but modern development has essentially negated that difference. Even modern adaptations of PHP, such as Hack (by facebook, the coincidence here will be apart soon), have been ignored in WP’s growth. PHP is not obsolete by any means and remains one of the better languages out there for the web, but very few arguments can be made for it being the best or even closely competing. Why is it inferior? This list could be very long, but I’ll give a basic example. A common programming tool is the variable; just a thing used to store information. You may remember these from algebra. X = 6. The ‘X’ is a variable and it stores an integer whose value is 6. PHP is what is known as “dynamically-typed” meaning you can’t specify what type of variable this is (i.e. an integer). Essentially, it is assumed that it is whatever type you initially give it. This is not uncommon in scripting languages, however, PHP has no way to declare variables at all. Variables are created and initialized whenever they are used for the first time which is a nightmare if you ever have a typo. PHP does have “type hinting”. This means that you can’t specify a type except for classes as parameter types for functions and methods. f you’re not familiar with programming, you’re probably starting to get confused and if you are familiar with programming, you’re still probably starting to get confused. This is just a glimpse into a laundry list of strange paradigms and performance issues that plague PHP. Now, onto the better languages.

 

JavaScript (technically ECMAscript), is the future. With massive feature additions in every update, an interpreter that is built into every modern browser and amazing frameworks, JavaScript eclipses PHP in terms of performance and power. One of my major issues with PHP is that it uses multi-threaded, render-blocking I/O to carry out multiple tasks at the same time. JavaScript uses some nifty things like event loop and Node Clustering to create an event-driven, non-blocking I/O. That being said, PHP has made modern updates that will allow asynchronous programming, but these are primarily through things like the HHVM and Hack language , as I mentioned earlier, these are not a part of WordPress. Therefore, these updates are not available in the current context. With SEO being the behemoth it is today, this performance difference is a huge component in WP and PHP’s relevance. .

 

WordPress made a massive move recently by merging the REST API (or Representational State Transfer Application Programming Interface for fans of verbosity) into the WordPress Core. WordPress development has been confusing developers since day one, but that is all changing. WordPress has now been unleashed to the massive community of JavaScript Developers and the Anti-PHP crowd. WP even released the Calypso Interface JavaScript driven UI that is now available to connect to your self-hosted site (using the afore-mentioned REST API) through WP’s Jetpack plugin or Wordpress.com. This opens endless doors, but most importantly, this opens the door for bespoke interfaces to interact with WordPress through the API. Clients rejoice! Even WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg said, “I believe quite strongly that JavaScript and API-driven interfaces are the future of not just WordPress but the web.“ A clear statement on the future of the platform. This leads us to the most beautiful part.

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WordPress Calypso Interface

https://community.1and1.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/wp-calypso-stats.jpg

 

In 2013, the ground shook. Well, not literally. You’ll get the point. Facebook decided to release React, a JavaScript library blew the minds of nearly all who used it. Byhanging development patterns to be far more intuitive, offering better performance due to a genius Virtual DOM, and massive code re-use due to its fundamental component system, React has become a titan in the JavaScript world. Facebook, Netflix, Airbnb, Skype, Tesla, Walmart, etc. are all major companies who have adopted React and have begun to rebuild their platforms on it. React has so many improvements, even over the fantastic JavaScript language. Things like one-way data flow, separation of concerns (the component system we talked about), a fantastic community and an awesome app/renderer setup that allows us to develop native mobile applications with it using React Native. Now, why is this relevant to WordPress? Don’t panic, I’ll tell you.

 

JavaScript and, more specifically React, offer massive performance and WordPress offers a fantastic CMS, all things considered. The REST API and the Calypso interface have now made it possible to build React pps on top of WordPress ack-ends and combine amazing back-end UI’s for clients with fantastic design, performance and frontend UI from developers. Some design companies have begun this transition and the results are exactly as expected, phenomenal! Check out ustwo.com for proof enough of this grand opportunity.

 

Have you been considering WordPress but have been concerned with things you’ve read or heard about limitations and performance? Fear no more. The future has arrived! If you are interested in being on the cutting-edge, miles ahead of your competition. Contact Pulse Marketing today!

 


 

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