WP REST API: What It Means for You on WordPress

The WordPress WP REST API v1.2.3 is a game-changer for WordPress developers and users with specialized business needs. By incorporating REST design features and custom post types into WordPress code, it transforms the platform into a highly extensible and adaptable application framework that can accommodate customized data types, leverage new software-as-a-service ecosystems, and remain relatively easy to understand and maintain.

The REST API promises a reliable return on investment of time and money because its core functionality is less likely to break when new datatypes are introduced or third-party protocols are changed. A RESTful application programming interface (API) offers the developer a functional flexibility to WordPress that will also extend its longevity as a reusable tool.

REST (REpresentational State Transfer), using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), is a web design concept that offers key advantages to WordPress. It provides an agnostic framework that provides greater stability as data types change, the ability to interact with a wider range of legacy objects and verbs, interoperability to run with new authentication protocols, reusable interfaces regardless of native protocols like JSON and AJAX, back-end integration with diverse plugins and other Services-as-a-Service, and scalability as new application interfaces are developed.

Networking and computer hardware typically appear as the base of any model of classic software design, with the application programming interface (or API) on top. WordPress is a software application that operates in this API layer. The application converts data gathered from local storage, network connections, or the internet into useful information according to pre-determined protocols, pre-programmed rules, and procedures.

REST differs from older web application designs in the way it loosely defines or REpresents the way objects are found in memory. A wider range of “floating free” objects in memory are brought “onboard” (State Transfer) because the REST API is not constrained by the way it “sees” the data by strict rules, definitions, specifications, or protocols. Adopting a REST design eliminates the need for building separate APIs for each new project. This software design also has greater flexibility dealing with future changes in either data or protocols.

The emerging Internet of Things (IOT) is also forcing changes in the universe of objects and how they are described in WordPress. REST, as a web design concept, helps rather than hinders software development.

Post Types Unlimited and Pods, both listed in the plugin section of WordPress.org under the keyword post types, automatically provide code modifications upon activation that enable you to create user-defined custom post types (CPT) with their own separate taxonomies. Developers, since WordPress v3.0 “Thelonius”, can register their own CPTs and thereby transform the classic WordPress Content Management System (CMS) framework into applications with customized datatypes. REST extends feature capability to protocols, specifications, and software technologies like JSON and AJAX.

In summary, the REST API and CPTs are not features the typical WordPress end-user needs. However, if you are a developer, you are paid to accommodate a client’s business needs beyond providing a stable but “off-the-shelf” content management system. You need a framework that promises a return on your investment of time and money. Any WordPress user wants a stable reliable framework that is less likely to break when protocols change or a datatype is modified to reflect new attributes. A REST API improves that certainty in reliability and performance.

Incorporating the REST API and considering CPTs with specialized taxonomies is always a worthwhile activity. The REST API provides the opportunity for a wider reach in added functionality from outside sources and greater durability in your application design because it more readily accommodates future changes in protocols. Installing this API and CPTs will ensure you meet your clients’ needs in cost-effective ways now and in the future.

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