The Inside Scoop on the New WordPress REST API

WordPress REST API

The WordPress REST API is one of the newest and most interesting features that has landed in the WordPress Ecosystem in quite some time. There has been quite a lot of buzz about it, and just about as as many questions. So what exactly is it? And what are the implication of this new technology to the legions of WordPress developers and site owners out there?

REST API = Powerful Client-Side Access to WordPress Functionality

Learn Javascript, deeply.

The REST API is a new way that developers can pull data out of WordPress using an HTTP request and a client-side programing language like JavaScript. A majority of WordPress is developed using PHP code, a server-side language which places constraints on available functionality due to concerns about website speed and scalability. Using the new WordPress REST API allows developers to create cutting edge new features without using a ton of server-side resources. That means that most features developed using the REST API will be faster than if a developed using PHP. It also means that you can deliver remarkable user experiences without adding expensive infrastructure.

The WordPress REST API is pretty new, so not very many developers have adopted it yet. The majority of WordPress developers are familiar with PHP, so it will take some time before the REST API gets adopted in a major way. As Matt Mullenweg stated at the WordCamp US 2015 State of the Word though, it’s time for our ecosystem to learn JavaScript….deeply. And we believe that the mass of developers in the WordPress community will take Matt up on this call. Not just because Matt suggested it, but because of the remarkable experiences that they will be able to put in front of their users. And you don’t have to take our word for it. There are enough compelling examples of the REST API in action today to encourage us all to step up to the challenge.

The WordPress REST API In Action

Although it’s still early days for the REST API, there are several examples that illustrate the potential of this new technology. One of the best examples is the Calypso project developed by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.

Calypso

Calypso for WordPress

The Calypso project is a reinvention of the WordPress Dashboard (WP-ADMIN). Calypso allows a user to centrally manage multiple WordPress sites and create content within a user interface that is very mobile friendly. It also loads significantly faster. You can read all about the story of Calypso here. The creation of Calypso also allowed for the creation of a WordPress desktop app, available on IOS/Windows/Linux. These features are available for everyone at Pressable just by installing the Jetpack Plugin and enabling the site management module.

If you are a developer and are interested in looking at the code, Calypso is an open source project. You can download it from the Calypso Github repo. Many members of the WordPress Community have already been contributing code to the project.

Aesop Story Engine

Aesop Story Engine

Another good example of using the WordPress REST API is the Aesop Story Engine. This very cool WordPress plugin enables users to create compelling content by simple dragging and dropping style components in the WordPress page or post editor. The bulk of the plugin uses the REST API to pull post content from WordPress and presents everything using a very sleek and interesting user interface.

Lasso

Lasso for WordPress

There is also a very interesting front-end development tool called ‘Lasso’, which was developed by Nick Haskin, founder of Aesop Story Engine. Lasso is a tool that allows for front end editing of WordPress content. It dramatically lowers the barrier of entry to WordPress for non-technical users. The idea is that a writer or editor can make changes to posts through the front end of the WordPress site, instead of having to login to the dashboard and edit posts there. The code is available on Aesop Story Engine’s Lasso Github repo if you’d like to check it out.

This is Only the Beginning

the-beginning-c

The WordPress REST API is still brand new, and it’s being actively developed. The REST API gives developers the ability to develop sleek, modern, and fast features. The next big feature for WordPress will likely use the REST API, so what is next?

That’s up to you and the rest of the WordPress Community. Anyone can actively contribute to WordPress and development of the REST API, and developers are just starting to explore different possibilities. We could see new themes, with features entirely driven by the REST API. What about new approaches to content management and site management? What about new tools for developing new themes? The possibilities are endless.

All of this is good news for clients hosted by Pressable. It means that there will be a lot of new features that will be faster and more sophisticated. It also means more advanced, engaging and immersive user experiences can be added to a WordPress site, all without a major sacrifice to site performance.


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