The future of WordPress in 2017

2016 was a great year for WordPress — we saw the release of 3 versions which gave us some great new features.

Here’s my pick of the best features in 2016

4.5 “Coleman” introduced some much needed editor enhancements, including an inline link editor, and added built-in support for images.

4.6 “Pepper” made plugin and theme installations and updates a lot easier, with streamlined install/update buttons that did the work in the background without reloading the page.

4.7 “Vaughan” was definitely my favorite release of the year — it included the long-awaited REST API, theme starter content, video headers and some great Customizer enhancements.

If you want to see all the other features, enhancements and fixes added throughout 2016, visit for a comprehensive list.

Let’s not forget about the community

In addition to the features above, we also saw some great plugins and themes released by the community in 2016.

A couple of highlights

We saw the launch of Divi 3.0 from Elegant Themes — it’s currently one of the most recommended themes (based on my time visiting the WordPress Subreddit).

We also saw The SEO Framework start to take off — especially after the announcement that switched away from Yoast SEO.

What to look forward to in 2017

I think 2017 is already shaping up to be an even better year than 2016 — and we’re still in January.

Here’s my top list of (predicted or announced) features for 2017

Page Builder Support

A large number of themes now include drag-and-drop page building, popularized by Visual Composer (which is either loved or hated).

It’s only natural that WordPress would aim to add support for this kind of functionality natively, especially considering with their recent focus on the Customizer.

I’ve never been a fan of page builders — the vast majority of them use shortcodes to design layout, and it makes my life (as a developer) a lot more difficult in most instances. What we really need is drag-and-drop support built in.

Fortunately, the WordPress Core team have already announced plans to add support for drag and drop building functionality by the end of 2017! Read more here

The editor will endeavour to create a new page and post building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless, and has “blocks” to make it easy what today might take shortcodes, custom HTML, or “mystery meat” embed discovery.

Front-end In Page editing

I was recently working on a plugin that enabled front-end editing (with an interface much like Medium). The plugin isn’t quite finished, but I may get around to finishing it off and releasing it soon.

This may not be necessary though, after reading this announcement:

Edit every piece of content where you see it, instead of needing to hunt for it.

So I’m hoping to see built-in support for front-end editing — whether that’s post content, widgets or shortcodes.

New Admin Interfaces

Now that the REST API has been released into the wild, I’m expecting to see a lot more admin interfaces over the next 12 months. It’s well known that the WP Admin dashboard isn’t always the most user-friendly interface — so I’m hoping to see more specialized interfaces for various uses of WordPress.

For example, I’d love to see a WooCommerce focused interface that made updating/editing products a lot simpler.

Component-based development

The community has been calling out for more streamlined plugins for a while. Many of the plugins and themes you can find (both free and premium) are extremely bloated.

I’m predicting a huge shift in the way we approach WordPress development.

React and Vue have popularized component-based development. I believe we’ll start to see something similar in WordPress.

Rather than trying to find a plugin that adds a custom post type including all the features we need (custom back-end UI, fields etc) — we’ll simply wire up various components together.

Plugins will be a lot smaller, more focused — and designed to integrate with others.

Need a front-end form that generates a post? Just connect a form component to a Page Creator component.

While PHP doesn’t support the kind of markup Vue/React use, I imagine we’ll be able to wire these components up visually (using some kind of workflow-based UI).

The end result will be less bloat — and a much more powerful platform to build your site on.

Anything else?

Disagree with me? Have I missed anything? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear your opinions or predictions for the upcoming year

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