This is a question I’ve been seeing since early this decade. WordPress has been around for a long time. Like, almost two decades ago long. I remember playing around with WordPress for the first time in high school. It was in 2004, I was a 90’s (1989 actually!) kid in love with video games, and I liked one in particular called Asheron’s Call. I started seeing the first “fansites” for games popping up around the web and I decided I needed my own to truly pay homage to the game. First came a lot of learning HTML tables, then came WordPress, which made it all make sense (still with HTML tables).
I’ve used WordPress ever since. Fast-forward to today, and I would venture to say I’ve probably made just south of half a million dollars on WordPress’s back (and I’m only 29). It’s been a godsend to me and my family (it’s allowed me to build a family, even as a third year college dropout) and the constant shortcuts with plugins and hooks and the event driven infrastructure that make it so unique (and that *real developers* love to rag on) has a real place in my heart. If WordPress never changed, I probably wouldn’t care. WordPress is possible only because of it’s almost always backwards compatible implementation. This has allowed websites to trust the platform and build with longevity in mind.
WordPress rebuild on Node.js
There were whispers throughout the community in the early part of the decade about WordPress development transitioning to Node.js. While I, too, was fascinated by Node at the time, I knew there was no way that a backwards compatible software like WordPress would make such a drastic change. Especially when that change would feature both a complete language and architecture overhaul. It couldn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen. It was then that I understood that WordPress will exist for a long time in the same code base it always has. And that’s not such a bad thing, really.
Will WordPress ever be overhauled? What should be changed?
WordPress probably will never be overhauled entirely. It will transition to the API as an option at first, then as a requirement over time.
Does it have to be a code structure overhaul? Do we need to implement more modern standards if the ones we have facilitate us so well? I don’t think so. But I do think we can already see the future of WordPress by looking at the API system. The API is clearly a big part of how things will transition in the future. You see it with the API integration in WordPress.com and Calypso. This is clearly the way things are heading. And I like it. It’s going to give us the ability to add an optional layer on top of our working infrastructure.
Gutenberg is also a great step.
Gutenberg fits in great with the trend that many WordPress developers have been going to as of late: using a pagebuilder plugin for content and structure management. While I was initially resistant to this, instead favoring an Advanced Custom Fields with Custom Post Types approach, I realize that I was wasting a lot of time creating interfaces that really didn’t need to be created in the first place. I tried implementing Visual Composer on a site from scratch and it actually went pretty well. Then I tried Elementor and I was blown away. It didn’t feel hacked together like the other pagebuilders I had researched and tried (looking at you especially, Cornerstone). After building a few sites with it, it’s become clear to me that this is the future of WordPress development, whether I liked it or not.
One thing truly needs change: the post-based content system.
While the uses of which are very clever and rather broad, the fact that every bit of content that goes into WordPress is stored as a post is clue enough that the platform’s blog roots are still the heart of everything. But to be honest, 80% of the sites I build for clients don’t even use the default Post post type at all. It just sits there or we hide it with another plugin.
This, and the merging of very unlike pieces of data in database tables, will always limit WordPress’ ability to be a full CMS without the help of many advanced plugins. WordPress is essentially is a mail boy who moonlights as a CEO. It’s built to write blog posts, but most of the time it runs entire websites. In fact, I’ve only made a handful of blog-only sites myself in all my years working with it. It’s a very understandable problem that it has, given the origins of the platform, but that doesn’t mean we must live with it forever.
For WordPress to really live up to it’s full potential, it’s going to need to become more than it is. It’s going to take Gutenberg, and structure changes, and the full integration of ideas like Elementor (which is seems like Gutenberg is positioning us to move toward). Until then, I will still use it on every non-technical project my company gets, but I do hope for an even better future where we innovate while staying mindful of where we came from.
Thoughts? Opinions? Please comment below.