One of the most interesting stories of the evolution of technology could see a twist that a lot of people predicted long back. Since its debut, WordPress has not put a foot wrong in terms of making crucial updates to the platform. Now that the powers are with its contributors, it is interesting how things are shaping up and how the platform is going forward.
WordPress has rolled out some really strong updates in recent times. These updates have kept the recent trends in mind where developers do not like to write lengthy codes and do a lot of logic and programming.
Only as a result of that, many drag-and-drop frameworks have emerged as alternatives to platforms that require a lot of coding. WordPress perhaps is looking to counter these platforms with their crucial update that is around the corner.
Long back in 2009, then Founder and head of developers at WordPress, Matt Mullenweg introduced canonical plugins to the WordPress community. This was done to enrich more confidence in the concept of plugins as most plugins were third party ones and invited a lot of threat attempts.
Matt saw plugins as a great way to assemble a website without having to write too many codes and saw that as the future of web development.
This was a classic founder’s move where Matt and his team believed that most third party plugins were influencing the developers or users to get a pro or paid version instead of offering endless possibilities.
This gave the popular plugins and their makers a lot of power or how a particular website would behave. The purpose was to allow core developers to introduce plugins which will be open source and will have the authenticity of WordPress’s core team.
What are Canonical Plugins?
At the WordCamp US’ contributor day a few weeks back, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg published on the official website about his desire to bring Canonical Plugins to the core of the new features to be rolled out next for WordPress.
This move is regarded as similar to Apple’s move to not allow third party ad servers to control apps on their devices and track their users’ data.
Canonical plugins will be plugins developed by WordPress’s official core developers’ community. This will add authenticity to the services and most importantly, these plugins will be open source services.
WordPress claims that plugins have had a lot of control over the functionalities on a website. That control possessed by a few developers or companies leads to them practicing things like forcing websites to buy premium versions or withdrawing functions that were free earlier.
Canonical plugins will instead focus on the much in demand things like functionality requests with superlative execution. To facilitate that, WordPress will need a separate framework for core developers.
There are many suggestions to rename the concept which people at WordPress are seriously considering since not many know what canonical actually means. There are a few suggestions that the core team brainstormed. That includes terms like Standard plugins, Core plugins, Premium plugins, Validated plugins, and Official plugins.
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Time and again the core team at WordPress suggests changes that receive contrasting responses. This new suggestion to have official plugins by WordPress developers has been no exception. Here are some points that developers and WordPress loyals are raising against the idea of canonical plugins.
WordPress has over 60,000 officially listed plugins. Most of them are third-party plugins which have a significant control over the functionalities of contemporary websites. These plugins are also a great means to generate revenue for developers and companies.
Adding an official and open source directory of plugins that will have WordPress’s official development and support will almost kill this revenue stream.
There are currently no limits to which developers can take the plugin functionalities to. Since they are made by individual developers or small agencies, these plugins often offer great innovation and intuitiveness.
Once the development of the basic plugins goes to the core team at WordPress, things may get slower in terms of releasing certain functionalities. Making small changes into plugins could also take a long time due to hierarchical matters.
There are rising concerns that if there is an excess of third-party extensions along with the current design tools available, there won’t be any significance of programmers or coders who write long complex codes to bring those basic functionalities to life.
The sheer drag/drop and import features for third-party integrations like themes, plugins, libraries and APIs will end an era of extensive, logical, and smart coding.
The Counter Argument
On the counterpart, there is a very strong argument about the whole concept of incessant coding being a dated one. The whole art of breathing life into a website should not be a luxury to those who know the programming languages.
There has to be wider participation in the technology. Here are some points in favor of the latest development.
Faster Project Lifecycle
WordPress claims that adding official plugins will make the entire project lifecycle faster as most functionalities have a representation in the plugin dictionary.
All that wordpress website designing services would have to do is to assemble the sets of prewritten functionalities in the form of canonical plugins and enable them. Time-saving will of course have a great impact on the overall project.
Building a website has become very convenient but it is still far from being an inexpensive affair. It still requires a lot of exclusive talent and high costs.
Although the true cost of making a WordPress website truly depends on the kind of it, making open source community backed features available would enable a lot of developers to build websites on WordPress in a very cost-friendly manner.
The prerequisites for a developer will be limited to knowing the resources rather than knowing the technicalities and programming languages. The open source nature of most resources on WordPress will lead to the whole process being comparatively inexpensive.
A lot of developers and business owners still fear adding too much third party influence on their websites on WordPress.
Most of the vulnerabilities have been coming from the plugins over the years. Apart from the data tracking, security is the biggest fear for developers and businesses regarding plugins.
Having the core team developing and supporting these official plugins adds a lot of authenticity to the process. Having large support and central monitoring also ensures no attackers are attempting to hack the websites like in case of small plugins.
This concept and direction by the founder and his team is regarded as the “plugin first” approach. It basically means any change in the features will first be through plugins. If plugins can bring a change that is required then that will be the preferred mode.
Changes in the framework as a whole will be less as things go forward. This will make the framework much leaner. Developers won’t have to dig deep into knowing, enabling, or disabling the features they have no idea about.
The vision is to lighten the framework and put fewer burdens on the core team that is under constant scrutiny to roll out features in an ad hoc manner.
Matt Mullenweg believes that the core team has to say no to rising demands of feature enrollment through version updates. All of that should be done in a block editing manner where you add and remove features to a certain section of the extended integration that does not concern those who don’t need or want it.
The Last Word
Milestone changes are never easy. It is definitely not easy when a founder has handed over the powers to an organization that is run by a core developers’ team. It must have been a tough task for Matt to convince his core team about an idea he first discussed 13 years back.
The change is more of a philosophical one than technical. While it makes sense on a lot of aspects, it is a huge blow for those who make a living out of offering third-party plugins. The efficiency and functionality of these official plugins is also unproven at this point.
However looking at every feature the core team has enrolled so far, there aren’t many concerns on the quality of these canonical plugins.
However the developers may choose to react to the changes, there is a huge chunk of developers who are happy seeing the back of lengthy coding.
In this new direction, the dedicated team of contributing developers will code most functionalities and offer them as prewritten sets of integrations. This makes it a win-win for all parties involved at least on the forefront.
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