Fabien Le Frapper

WordPress: a few thoughts and tips


Wordpress is not so popular among developers1. However, its market share2 is undebatable.

I had to work with WordPress recently for WWOOF3 with a headless setup :

My experience with Wordpress is quite outdated: it dates back to ~2010.
I wanted to share a few thoughts about how it felt using it in 2023. This is not a detailed and honest comparison.

Documentation is fine, once you found it

First thing : I searched Wordpress get started on search engines.
Almost every result feels like people trying to sell you something. Quite the opposite of most open source communities I am used to.
Just add developer to this query and you will feel at home.

In fact, the documentation is located in the developpers section of the documentation's website.
WordPress's primary focus are the editors. It makes sense that what they call a documentation is not the technical documentation. Still, not usual but not an issue per se.

Many API reference pages have a comment section in which some people post examples of implementation.
That is common in php official documentation and can help using an unknown library or function.

Some great examples...not without errors

WordPress team provides official examples in a GitHub repo.

It seems perfect to get a working local developement setup :

Stack trace:
#0 /var/www./html/wp-admin/includes/plugin.php(2314): include_once()
#1 /var/www/html/wp-admin/includes/plugin.php(661):plugin_sandbox_scrape('gutenberg-examp...")
#2 phar:///usr/local/bin/w/vendor/w-cli/extension-command/src/Plugin_Command.php(347): activate_plugin('gutenberg-examp
#3 [internal function]: Plugin_Command-›activate(Array, Array)
74 phar:///usr/local/bin/wp/vendor/w-cli/w-cli/php/w_CLI/Dispatcher/CommandFactory.php(100): call_user_func(Array, Array, Array)
#5 [internal function]: WP_CLI\Dispatcher\CommandFactory::WP_CLI\Dispatcher\{closure}(Array,Array)
#6 phar:///usr/local/bin/wp/vendor/wp-cli/wp-cli/php/wP_CLI/Dispatcher/Subcommand.php(491): call_user_func(Object(Closure), Array, Array)
#7 phar: /// usr/local/bin/w/vendor/wp-cli/w-cli/php/NP_CLI/Runner.php(419):WP_CLI\Dispatcher\Subcommand->invoke(Array,Array,Array)
#8 phar:///usr/local/bin/wp/vendor/wp-cli/wp-cli/php/WP_CLI/Runner.php(442): WP_CLI\Runner->run_command(Array,Array)
#9 phar:///usr/local/bin/w/vendor/wp-cli/wp-cli/php/w_CLI/Runner.php(1256) : WP_CLI\Runner-›run_command_and_exit()
#10 phar:///usr/local/bin/w/vendor/wp-cli/wp-cli/php/WP_CLI/Bootstrap/LaunchRunner.php(28): WP_CLI\Runner-›start()
#11 phar:///usr/local/bin/wp/vendor/wp-cli/wp-cli/php/bootstrap.php(78): W_CLI\Bootstrap\LaunchRunner-›process(Object(WP_CLI\Bootstrap\BootstrapState))
#12 phar:///usr/local/bin/w/vendor/wp-cli/wp-cli/php/wp-cli.php(32): WP_CLI\bootstrap()
#13 phar:///usr/local/bin/wp/php/boot-phar.php (11): include 'phar: ///usr/loc ...
#14 /usr/local/bin/wp(4): include( phar: ///usr/loc
#15 {main}
thrown in /var/www/html/w-content/plugins/gutenberg-examples/index.phponline16

Let's dig: this example uses this dependency to set up a local development environment: a node package…that runs…docker ?

It always feel a bit sketchy some framework obfuscate the underlying technologies behind some of their tools.
It could easily save them time spent with support request if they just included a docker-compose.yml and a few references to docker documentation.

...it escalated quickly...

By checking running containers (docker ps), I noticed that the wordpress server was running and accessible on http://localhost:8888.

Let's ignore the error for now and enable the example plugin.

On the plugins page, a cryptic error is now displayed. A cryptic error displayed in Wordpress' backoffice Here we find the same stack trace as before…that starts with the word warning (?)
Looking a bit closer, there is a Fatal Error message in the middle of the little message at the top of the page.
You want to see more ? Let’s…scroll in this small div ?
I can’t believe that they did not find a better way to display a stack trace in the admin. Maybe this is me that did not find it though 😬 ?

After a few minutes spent debugging, I read several GitHub issues and some clear proofs that this package is not properly maintained :

This is where I gave up.
I ended up not using this project to set up my local development environment but instead wrote my own docker-compose.yml, that is really simple :

    image: mariadb:10.6.4-focal
    command: "--default-authentication-plugin=mysql_native_password"
      - db_data:/var/lib/mysql
    restart: unless-stopped
      - MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=somewordpress
      - MYSQL_DATABASE=wordpress
      - MYSQL_USER=wordpress
      - MYSQL_PASSWORD=wordpress
      - 3306
      - 33060
    image: wordpress:latest
      - 8000:80
    restart: unless-stopped
      - WORDPRESS_DB_USER=wordpress
      - WORDPRESS_DB_PASSWORD=wordpress
      - WORDPRESS_DB_NAME=wordpress
      #  This is our custom plugin, you can put yours here
      - ./wordpress/wwoof-blocks/:/var/www/html/wp-content/plugins/wwoof-blocks/
      # If you need to customized your php config
      - ./php.ini:/usr/local/etc/php/php.ini


https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#technology-most-loved-dreaded-and-wanted-platforms-dreaded5 2: https://kinsta.com/wordpress-market-share/ 3: An organization that links people to organic farmers to educate about ecological farming practices. 4: I started with Spip a long time ago, then drupal, then cool headless cms like prismic, and more recently Wagtail that is Django base. If you do not know about Wagtail, you should definitely check it out. I have worked with this CMS in various projects, and this is my go-to CMS each time I need to build project with a great editor experience in mind.