Is There a New Full Stack WordPress Developer?

Full Stack JavaScript
The WP Crowd

Roy Sivan

senior contributor
Published: May 1, 2017

“Full Stack” has clearly been redefined numerous times, its now a buzz word. So I’m going to pre-clarify this post in my terms of “Full Stack” which does not include DevOps. Its Front & Back End coding, i.e PHP + HTML/CSS/JS. That is what I’m used to it meaning since in enterprise that is how I experience it. Front End Team, Back End Team, Tech Ops Team… all separated by their concerns. Yes knowledge should transfer and you should know a little of everything to be apex developer…. but not going there, that is another post.

JavaScript, learn it deeply. JavaScript, the language that has a new framework or library released for it every day. JavaScript, the way the Internet code meets other non-computer interfaces.

With so much potential for the future with JavaScript, it is no wonder so many developers have been focusing all their attention on learning the latest and greatest in JavaScript tech. As more WordPress developers move into JavaScript and move away from using WordPress, is there a new type of WordPress developer being evolved?

A Quick Case Study

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on a project where I was a mix of architect and back end dev. We started the project with a meeting which we both knew would be heavily powered by the WordPress REST API. We ended that very first meeting with a general consensus on schema and routes needed to power this web application.

An API Developer

From the first meeting onwards I was in dev mode, but unlike any other WordPress project (full builds) I’ve done, there were no mocks or designs. The first task on my plate was to tackle building out the API which would power every piece of custom functionality that we needed. Once the API was done I moved onto what we would be using to communicate with it, the application itself. Yes I had big grand ideas of using Angular 4.x for the MVP, or even take what I’ve learned from Matt Davis & Brian Martin and build a hybrid type app. However the MVP deadline was looming, so we scrapped this idea and pushed it to Phase II, I just needed to roll something functional out.

JavaScript & PHP

For sake of time and just getting to MVP, I created a few jQuery forms which would just load PHP (server-side) rendered pages. The API was still being called, but not in the same capacity I was hoping for. As we neared launch and new bugs came up, or even new ideas for how to improve the UX slightly, I would tackle them. I focused my time on the few application pages (build primarily with JavaScript), and the API itself.

We got the MVP up and running before the deadline, in time to do a soft launch and user testing. There are many other aspects of this great project I will share as time goes on, but I want to focus on my role for now.

Everything But The CSS

What really got me thinking about this whole thing was as we were getting ready to launch, I had not touched any theme-specific CSS. I did very minor CSS just to make the UX of my JavaScript flow better (hidden, fadeOuts, etc.) but as far as background color to color palette, that was all handled by someone else.

Now you think about that for a second, as a WordPress developer, when was the last time you got a site and up running (from scratch) and didn’t have to do any theme related CSS? Yes, in this case there was a parent / child theme setup, the parent being a theme framework, but that didn’t bring much with it.

This got me thinking even further, when was the last time I even touched a new stylesheet or even cared about the latest trends in CSS / SCSS? It hit even harder when I saw a question posed by Chris Flannagan somewhere and would normally have an answer in CSS, but was questioning how I would even handle something.

Now Factor In Other Developers

Now lets look at the rest of the world. As WordPress gains popularity in other communities ’cause of the REST API, which it is, a chunk of them will specialize in JavaScript particularly Node, React, Angular, etc. type projects. They may not need to customize the API if they are just grabbing regular post data, but they are focused on creating UI with the data that the API gives them.

While most of them know SCSS / CSS also coming from the front-end realm, they are primarily JavaScript Developers. If they do need to customize the API, they will need to know PHP, so again we are back at this combo of JavaScript & PHP.

The New Full Stack WordPress Developer

I’m not saying its a bad thing, but the combo of PHP + JavaScript is a great combo right now in the WordPress realm. Especially since so many designers are now learning advanced SCSS tricks. Yes, not every one of them knows how to use it, but give them some basic building blocks and show them nesting, and even a novice designer that knows CSS can get working into an advanced dev workflow.

I have to admit, that the thought of only working on these 2 languages really excites me too. While I love being a front-end dev, and still consider myself one, when it comes to WordPress, this has become my new ideal scenario as a developer. I get to build out the API the way I need it to be, then I get to build something cool with it in JavaScript, and let someone else handle the brand styling, coloring, etc.

WordPress, unlike any other

Unlike any other development / technology community out there, when it comes to the evolving developer, WordPress is where it will happen the fastest. WordPress is where developers go from novice to experts within an insanely short amount of time. WordPress is the one tech community that includes SO MANY different skill sets from the beginners to advanced. If any community would see this evolution, it will be the WordPress community.

So what do you think? Do you like this concept? Are you never going to let CSS go?



Get the latest from The WP Crowd

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Ido Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest

Interesting point of view. I strongly agree with your saying that WordPress development can help one become a better developer, and fast.