In recent weeks, there has been a considerable amount of discussion around the barriers to entry for new and existing WordPress developers. Chris Wiegman kicked things off with the following Tweet.
Wiegman appeared on the WP Mainline podcast and expanded on this topic, explaining his position and sharing his personal experiences. Many people who participated in the discussion on Twitter shared a similar sentiment, with a few highlighting that perhaps the ability to tinker is actually lower.
This particular point was addressed again by Tammy Lister where she describes how creating themes is easier and many contributions can now be made without writing a line of code.
I used the term theme creation because I honestly think we should start using that over theme developer. There are now levels of creation open that aren’t just making a theme:
– Create using patterns and design tools.
– Create using patterns and global styling.Create using patterns, templates and global styling.
– Create using a theme you create.
That’s a lot of options and even more, combinations are possible, and only one I listed of those requires you potentially open a code editor. Even then, you might only do that to copy and paste in what you create within the site editor. Themes are now open again and that couldn’t be more exciting for someone like me that felt it was closing, losing the creativity that once drew me to the form.Tammie Lister
Courtney Robinson, who is a co-rep for the WordPress training team, also shared her thoughts on the matter.
It’s always a struggle in technology education to remain current. Granted, in a bootcamp, all those languages are a substantial chunk of the way to WordPress and it is a far easier sell to go the route of learning WordPress and then going headless. Yet, this feels… different. Other.
Bridging the languages, build tools, linters, pre and post-processors, and how WordPress implements all these layers of complexity can be introduced in a generalized way. We’re seeing a real need for this on the hiring side of the equation, as well as ongoing staff training.Courtney Robinson
Whether WordPress is difficult to contribute to or develop for in the age of Gutenberg is relative to a person’s knowledge, experience, and perspective. But it’s clear that many long-time developers are struggling and in fact, when some see a list of pre-requisites needed to contribute, they don’t even bother.
The burden being having to know or at least be familiar with a host of technologies. There’s a reason why boilerplates such as Create Guten Block exist. And while this developer toolkit makes setup easier, you still have to know what you’re doing with the various technologies such as Node, NPM, React, etc. in order to create a block or contribute to a core block.
Emphasis Needed for the Learn WordPress Project
If WordPress is indeed difficult to develop for and contribute to, there is one project that could really use more exposure, and that is Learn WordPress. Learn WordPress was officially launched in December of 2020 and contains a number of resources for budding developers including, quizzes, workshops, lesson plans, and quizzes. It’s a means of taking the knowledge of the new Codex, Developer Resources, and other bits of information and transforming them into training materials.
The WordPress Training Team needs your help in determining what learners and potential learners need in terms of content and learning experiences. Interested parties can take a survey which will remain open until August 13th. Once enough participants have taken the survey, focus groups will be created to cover some things in greater detail.
This particular project could do wonders for easing the burden for new and existing developers getting to grips with WordPress. It doesn’t nor can it take away the burden of learning so many complex technologies and keeping up with them, but it can help.
WordPress releases are still being contributed to by hundreds of volunteers but if the software is to benefit from fresh blood and perspectives or even encourage them, then lowering the barriers to entry wherever possible should become some sort of a priority. If you’re interested in helping to create an awesome resource for developers and users to educate others about WordPress, check out how you can contribute to the Learn WordPress project.