What the Forthcoming WordPress API Means (In Basic Terms)

What The New JSON REST API Means For UsersIf you read any blogs that cover WordPress, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the WordPress JSON REST API. It’s been championed as one of the single most exciting WordPress developments but it has been stuck in development for over a year now. It looks like the wait may soon be over.

WordPress’ process for adding new features (put in place last year) is to develop them as separate plugins until they’re ready for primetime and then integrate them into the WordPress core. The JSON REST API is no different – it’s been in development for quite a while, and for good reason. The plugin was originally released in May of 2014 and looks like it may be ready to be added to WordPress soon.

In the simplest of terms, adding an API will allow WordPress sites to communicate with all sorts of outside applications. For instance, you could build an iOS app, Android app, and web app that all run off the same information. Applications are great for generating a specific experience but until now updating content meant that each app had to be updated independently from the others. Once the JSON REST API is released, you’ll even be able to create an entirely new admin back-end customized for specific segments of users (Check out Happy Tables – a company that specializes in restaurant websites fully powered by WordPress). The opportunities are nearly limitless, just imagine what the WordPress community will think of.

So what does the name JSON REST API mean? Lets break it down by its parts:

  • API – An application programming interface, allows you to interact with a program using an outside source. For example, when you use the Twitter app on your phone, it’s connecting to the Twitter API to fetch and post tweets for you.
  • JSON is short for JavaScript Object Notation. Simply put, is the format in which the data is exchanged. JavaScript is the programming language, and Object Notation is the format of the data.
  • REST or Representational State Transfer, defines the software architecture and how the software was created.

In short, the WordPress API is going to open up a new realm of possibilities for what can be done using a WordPress site. What started as a blogging platform and grew into a fully-fledged content management system, will soon be able to power all sorts of new experiences and serve as the backbone for apps.

Imagine what WordPress would be like without the ability to install plugins – that’s how big an impact this new API is going to have on what you can do with WordPress.