Future of WordPress: The MMXVI edition

It looks like 2016 is going to be another great year for WordPress. What started out as just a blogging tool now has its sight on becoming a full-fledged web application platform. It is getting newer tools for cutting-edge development to give more widespread usage. Jetpack will self-host WordPress sites. With online retail evolving at the speed of light, eCommerce is predicted to reach newer heights. It is surely making huge leaps of advancement and there is no stopping it.

A month ago, I attended WordCamp US 2015 in Philadelphia (Read about it here). The whole 5-day event had me on my toes. I made sure I took in everything I could. On 15th Jan 2016, I gave a presentation to the staffs of all Acclaim Technology members to relay the things I felt were going to be the focal points for WordPress in 2016. These are the things I emphasized in my presentation:

  1. REST API will bring about a force change

REST API stands for Representational State Transfer Application Program Interface. It represents any web services using the REST architecture that involves reading a designated web page that contains an XML/JSON file. REST is a simple request/response mechanism. Each request returns a subsequent response.

The design of the API that supports REST interfaces has been growing progressively. It has become a common need today. Whether it is in social networks, mobile apps or complicated business processes, REST APIs are present. It encompasses the interaction between web services and clients in a better and more engaging way. It will pave the way for new tools for advanced development, making WordPress a more widely used platform. The REST API with its interface, Calypso will aim to cosmopolite WordPress. Users who don’t work with PHP and who’ve been put off by WordPress’ ‘confusing’ interface will have no problem getting used to the new interface.

  1. Learn JavaScript DEEPLY

In his State of the Word address to WordCamp US 2015 on December 2016, Matt Mullenweg stressed the importance of JavaScript. He believes JavaScript along with API driven interfaces are the future of WordPress and the World Wide Web.

Java Script is a front end/client-side programming language, meaning it communicates with a user’s web browser. WordPress has long been relying on PHP which is a back end/server side programming language. In layman’s words, it is the language used to communicate with the web server. JavaScript will allow developers to create themes using front-end languages instead of PHP. JavaScript powered sites have the potential to run much faster and be more responsive.

JavaScript is already a part of WordPress in the form of numerous JavaScript libraries such as jQuery, JSON, Backbone.js and Underscore.js. Numerous WordPress themes and plugins use JavaScript.

In the quest of breaking boundaries in WordPress, JavaScript can be a very potent weapon. As a developer, it is vital to be familiar with the latest in WordPress. Hence, learning JavaScript will not only add to your strengths, it will be a necessary skill for WordPress development very soon.

  1. Calypso

Calypso is not an alternative interface for your existing WordPress admin screens; it is a completely separate application that interacts with your site using the Rest API. While it does not yet affect the self-hosted WordPress sites, it is the biggest change to the admin interface since WordPress was started more than a decade ago. To use Calypso, you need to install and activate the WordPress.com desktop app or log in to WordPress.com and manage your self-hosted site from there. Jetpack and the Manage option are its prerequisites.

Some major features of Calypso are:

  • A more intuitive interface, with less clutter
  • Faster editing and publishing
  • Edit site settings
  • Manage comments
  • Install themes and plugins

Customizing your theme is the one aspect where Calypso falls short. You can’t do that from the app. If you click on the Customize button, you’ll be taken to the Customizer in your browser. Calypso is more focused on improving the speed of editing and publishing. WordPress can be slow to implement changes in the admin screens and the app makes this so much quicker. It will definitely go through significant review and UX improvements as well as influence other similar open source projects in the years to come.

  1. Accessibility

According to W3C, web accessibility refers to how well, “… people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the web, and that they can contribute to the web”. In simple words, accessibility is a measure of how easily those with disabilities can use the Internet. Developers should not spend so much of time thinking about site optimization that they forget about their visitors. Can everyone you want to gain access to your site do so easily? Once they are there, can they navigate without problems? Do you offer solutions for those with disabilities? These questions should always been in a developer’s mind while building a theme or a plugin. It has been estimated that there are 1 billion people living with some sort of disability.  When site’s optimization and design are your only concerns, you turn away a whole market of clients: millions of dollars’ worth of business. There are many simple ways to make a site more accessible, like using clean HTML codes, text alternatives for every image, avoiding seizure-inducing graphics, etc.

Accessibility References:

  • https://codex.wordpress.org/Accessibility
  • https://make.wordpress.org/accessibility/
  • https://make.wordpress.org/themes/handbook/review/accessibility/

I hope that by sharing these insights from my trip, the Nepali developer community can learn and evolve fast, and keep up with the changing times for those working on WordPress.

My Presentation: WordPress in 2016

One Reply to “Future of WordPress: The MMXVI edition”

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