The REST API: A New Era for WordPress Is Here

An update two years in the making, WordPress version 4.4 was released on Dec. 8, 2015. While most of us have probably made the switch by this point, we love the changes that the new WordPress update provides. Hey, WordPress is our (and many of our clients’) bread and butter. Can you blame us for being excited?

The Clifford Update

Has everyone had a chance to try out some of the new features of 4.4? We’ve enjoyed the simplicity of the responsive images and WordPress’ push toward mobile integration. Most of our clients do business across multiple platforms these days, so the multi-platform responsiveness of 4.4 was a welcome sight.

However, as much as we like the twenty sixteen theme and the increased category customization, that’s not what really caught our eye on this update. The best part of WordPress’ Clifford update is the integration of the REST API that offers some interesting new possibilities for the WordPress landscape.

REST API

We know not all of you reading this are developers, so let’s start off with a quick primer on what exactly the REST API is.

API is short for Application Program Interface. Essentially, this is a structured set of protocols that determine how a piece of software interacts with the world around it. This includes how the software is used and how other software communicates with it.

Now, a REST API is a little more specific. REST is an acronym for Representational State Transfer—basically, a format that lets your programs communicate with one another as efficiently as possible. This is a resource-based service system, meaning that the REST API’s architecture manipulates specific objects to complete its task. For example, a resource (such as a person or data) is queried with an HTTP protocol (like GET or POST) to retrieve specific information about the resource.

This convenient plug-in lets you retrieve and update your site information with a few simple button clicks. You can even retrieve information about specific keywords, search terms, or categories to give you data about what’s trending on your page. The benefits don’t stop there, though.

Revolutionizing Development

Full integration of the REST API with WordPress opens up some exciting new possibilities in the development world. Think of the REST API as a translator that standardizes communication between the WordPress software and every other application out there. Though WordPress began as a basic blogging platform, the REST API opens up its capabilities as a comprehensive application platform.

This is changing the WordPress development game in a number of ways:

  • Optional Front End: Yes, you read that right. API integration allows developers to utilize WordPress without the hassle of front-end templates, logins, or other internal protocols.
  • Less Reliance on PHP: We know, we know—PHP is still king, with major sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, and Twitter relying on it. However, the REST API opens up possibilities by facilitating communication with other programming languages like Ruby, Python, and Go. This opens up a wealth of new possibilities for developers looking to try out new platforms.
  • Mobile Mania: The REST API is changing the way WordPress is handling mobile integration. The REST API allows mobile developers to better define app endpoints with WordPress functionality, making WordPress a possible back end for native mobile applications.
  • Javascript Integration: Javascript has taken the world by storm. Smart developers position themselves as partners to this technology rather than competitors, which is exactly what WordPress has done with its REST API. This allows WordPress to integrate with Javascript and related technologies to let developers enjoy the benefits of the Javascript language while still utilizing the same WordPress we all know and love.

The Future of WordPress

WordPress’ 4.4 release marked a change in the way we view WordPress development. Since its inception, WordPress has been steadily building itself as a streamlined application platform that can interface with as many services as possible. WordPress isn’t just a blogging service any more. If the developers keep up the pace with new and exciting improvements to the third-party software ecosystem, there’s no telling where the future of WordPress may lead.