WordPress theming hasn’t changed very much over the past few years. It’s certainly become more refined, and projects such as Underscores (_s) have helped promote best practices and robust standards. That said, we can still go as far back as Kubrick and find plenty of common ground with the most recent WordPress themes.
- Storing and pre-fetching content using the browser’s Web Storage API to allow server-less, seamless transitions — using the browser’s History API — between posts and pages.
- Animations within themes, for more natural and intuitive interactions.
- The ability to create entirely offline experiences using all new Service Workers.
In this five-part tutorial, we’ll expose you to the brave new world that WordPress theme development might inhabit in the coming years. While the best practices for building a theme in this way are still to be established, we’ll do our very best to guide you into the secret garden of the future.
Stay tuned for:
- Introducing REST APIs
- Bringing React into our theme
If there’s one thing that has been making waves in the WordPress ecosystem this year, it is the new REST API. Officially known as WP-API, and currently available as a plugin, it is due to be rolled into core at some point this year.
A REST API?
A REST API may not initially seem like a useful feature for theme developers. It is clearly very useful for those looking to use WordPress as an application platform, but how the REST API can be used within a theme is perhaps more opaque.
The Theme Division at Automattic have had an eye on the potential uses of a REST API powering a theme for at least a couple of years now, and in recent months some concepts have started to take shape.
- Design: We can have smooth transitions between the different types of content on our websites.
- Speed: We can store content from the REST API in localStorage (effectively the browser’s memory). This means that on the initial site load we can store any post that is retrieved. Imagine a user clicking a ‘read more’ link and the full post being displayed without the need of a further server request.
Recently, I have been talking about building themes with the REST API and our approach to building Picard at a number of WordCamps so far this year, culminating in a workshop at the inaugural LoopConf.
Today, Picard is now publicly available on GitHub.
We intend to continue developing Picard and working on some of the harder problems that we have not yet solved. We aren’t stopping at Picard either. Our experiments have led us in various directions. My colleague Kirk Wight has created another experimental theme called Tango. Tango is an extension of the concepts we are exploring with Picard, blended with the bulletproof Underscores starter theme.
Make It So
The future of WordPress theming may dramatically shift with the official adoption of the REST API but you don’t have to wait for the future to take advantage of it now. Clone Picard and Tango. Experiment and see what you can do. These are exciting times for themes!
Further Reading and Resources
Photo credit: JD Hancock/flickr