What is “modern” WordPress development?

Skip to the end if you just want to see something new and exciting.

Modern WordPress Development. It’s a phrase that I’ve started to use more often, to the point where it starts to lose any sense of meaning.

Maybe it describes a specific approach to WordPress. Or maybe it’s about the tools that one uses. Or maybe it’s a name for a skill-level that can be acquired. Or- maybe it’s all of those things and more.

I think the default for most people is that modern WP means React. It means JavaScript. Stepping back it means the block editor, Gutenberg, that thing that no one wanted seven years ago when market share was on the rise, but it starting to make a little more sense now that tools like Webflow and Wix Studio are gaining in popularity with DIYers and agencies.

For the plugin developer, “modern” WordPress means a lot more code, harder code, JavaScript, and build processes and things with names like “the Interactivity API”.

With 60,000 free plugins, all the low-hanging fruit has been picked. If you have a plugin idea now, it’s probably going to be harder to build. That said, the new blue ocean for plugin developers right now is to build for the block editor. That requires understanding how everything in PHP WordPress, plus this whole new world of Gutenberg sitting on top of it.

For the theme builder, “modern” WordPress hopefully means less code. Global styles, block patterns, query loops- all these tools that are meant to take the manual work out of building a theme. Compare a classic theme like Understrap to something like my starter block theme. Less code, fewer files, more simplicity.

I thank my lucky stars I don’t have to write ACF fields so my clients can simply style their buttons anymore. Then again, that’s before I try to do anything fancy like let them use the “outline” button style in core, then I’m mad again.

It’s the classic 80/20 rule. WordPress has always been great at getting you 80% of the way there. That last 20% has always been hard, and I’d be lying if I said the block editor didn’t make it even harder.

The only way out is through. More users. More testing. More real world implementation. More feedback to the core team that says, “I’m actually using this block editor for hours every day. Here’s where it could be improved.” And on top of that, we need more education to break down the barriers to modern WordPress.

So anyway, to the point I’m trying to make.

This week I’ve launched a new free video series titled 7 Important Tools for Modern WordPress Development. Each video is a very high-level overview of something that I think all WordPress developers should be aware of and consider adding to their tool belt.

The first few videos will appear on YouTube sometime soon but the entire series is only going to be available via email. Seven Days. Seven Tools. Hope to see you there.

Brian Coords
Modern WordPress Development

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