This afternoon at WordCamp Europe 2014, Matt Mullenweg again highlighted the progression of WordPress from a blogging platform, through CMS, to an App Engine and in the future he said, who knows what it might become. This my thought-experiment attempt at answering Matt’s rhetorical question.
WordPress has constantly lowered barriers. First, as a blogging platform, it made web publishing easy for absolutely anyone. Then, as a CMS it put the look and feel of whole websites in the hands of the people with the vision and ideas. Now as an App Engine or framework it’s providing the development platform for dedicated vertical applications for example, for the real estate industry.
Following the pattern, very soon WordPress users are going see that they can build and configure any kind of application they like – any application at all. Sites will become an increasingly sophisticated, extensible and integral part of their business and the same time just as easily customisable as the look and feel.
The platform might therefore be thought of not just as a Content Management System, and not just as an App Engine; but perhaps as more of an ‘App Management System’.
Plugins like WooCommerce and Gravity Forms of course already do this to some extent but I think this is a trend we’ll see increasing rapidly as a new generation of app users flock to WordPress demanding more from their sites.
What does this mean for us developers? Just another wave of reinvention.
Back in 1996 I would build static web pages for my clients. It soon became clear that what people needed was a CMS so I adapted my skills to building CMSs. That continued for a few years until it was clear that a winner was emerging and that I would have to throw my lovingly crafted CMSs away, adapt again and start using WordPress to build websites. I was still developing, still building sites but by adapting I was able to deliver more value to the customer.
Now, as developers, perhaps it’s time for us to adapt again and prepare for the next shift in demand as our customers stop seeing their sites as a websites and start seeing them more as apps.