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Beyond the Theme - Using WordPress as an API


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WordCamp Chicago 2011 slides for session

WordCamp Chicago 2011 slides for session

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  • 1. Beyond the Theme
    Using WordPress as an API
  • 2. About Me
    Find me on online at:
    I’m not a WordPress guru, ninja, black-belt, author, blogger, consultant, or hacker
    I do use WordPress everywhere
  • 3. One Year of WordPress at Work
    Migrated 14 unique brand sites and over 40 unique domains in 7 languages to WordPress multi-site
    Our most popular brand’s average page views increased from 85,000 to 150,000 (over 130,000 daily emails, over 45,000 iPhone/iPad apps, and over 65,000 Facebook fans)
    Our online donations increased by 38%
    Reduced server footprint by 40% and our overhead costs decreased by 30%
    Development time, costs, and learning curve for new developers were also all significantly reduced
  • 4. Goals of a WordPress Based Web Strategy
    Have one install for multiple sites
    Allow for a single sign-on across a network of sites
    Use an API to allow for content to be easily accessible by other websites and mobile devices
    Integrate web, social, mobile, social bookmarking, and monetization strategies
    Aggregate and curate content from across the network of sites in one central stream
    Think globally—location and language matter
  • 5. Why WordPress
    It met the conditions of our web strategy
    It has multi-site capabilities
    It is open source (FREE)
    It is easy to migrate to
    It is easy to use
    It is easy to install and upgrade
    It is popular (15% of the web runs on WordPress)
    It is versatile
  • 6. Versatile you say?
    Extend it with themes and plugins
    Modify it with hooks
    Create custom post types
    Add custom fields
    Use custom taxonomies
    Specify post formats
  • 7. An Analogy—Part 1
    The WordPress admin area is like a kitchen and you are the chef
    The WordPress plugins are like the kitchen appliances that make for a better cooking experience
    The WordPress theme is like the dining room where the content is laid out for consumption
    There is a one-to-one relationship between your content and its container, the theme
  • 8. Content vs. Container
    A WordPress theme exists only within the context of its container—the web browser
    Your content is consumed from within your website’s theme
    Your RSS feed is the only way in which your content can be consumed from outside your website’s theme
  • 9. How Do People Find Your Site
    Search engines index your content
    Searches point people to your site
    Users subscribe to your RSS feed
    Friends might link to your site
    Anyone can share your content on social networks
  • 10. Your Websites Current Sphere of Influence
  • 11. Introduction to APIs
    “An API (Application Programming Interface) is a way for two applications to talk to each other in a common language that both systems understand. An API essentially provides a structured way for applications to get content in a predictable, flexible, and powerful way.”
  • 12. Does WordPress have an API?
    WordPress has XML-RPC for data management at the admin level
    WordPress has multiple built-in APIs that allow developers to enhance WordPress through plugins and themes
    WordPress has a robust query string that enables content filtering through the URL
    WordPress has no end user API that allows for third-party development around your content
  • 13. What Can an API do for You?
    Allows you to have a single instance of your content and users distributed across multiple channels
    Allows developers to build third-party applications around your web-based content or service
    Allows you to enhance the user experience within the context of your site by building an AJAX rich application
  • 14. Separating Content from Container
    WordPress separates the admin and plugins from the theme
    It allows for the content to exist independently of the website’s theme
    Modifying a site’s theme does not impact your content
  • 15. An Analogy—Part 2
    Same kitchen, chef, appliances, and dining room as the earlier analogy
    An API turns your kitchen into a catering business with delivery trucks
    There is a one-to-many relationship between your content and multiple containers: mobile apps, third-party websites, and social networks
  • 16. Adding an API to WordPress Expands Your Sphere of Influence
  • 17. 3 Simple Steps to Implementing an API into Your Next WordPress Theme
    Pass additional query string parameters to the theme
    Modify the theme to process API calls
    Determine what format to return the content in
  • 18. Step 1: Pass Additional Query String Parameters to the Theme
    Define a query string parameter to specify whether or not the request being made is an API call. Always default the parameter to false in the theme as to not disrupt non API requests (?api=true)
    Define a query string parameter to specify in what format to return the content (&format=json)
  • 19. Step 2: Modify the Theme to Process API Calls
    $api = $_GET[‘api’];
    $f = $_GET[‘format’];
    Section off the header and footer with conditional statements within files like index.php, single.php, archive.php, category.php, tag.php, and search.php
    Evaluate based on the query string parameters if an API call needs the header and footer
    If ( $api ) {
    // Conditional Header
    // The Loop
    get_template_part(‘loop’, $f);
    If ( $api ) {
    // Conditional Footer
  • 20. Step 3: Determine What Format to Return the Content In
    Create a series of loops in different formats to handle your custom API requests: loop-html5.php, loop-json.php, loop-xml.php
    Allow the get_template_part() function to determine the appropriate format to use:get_template_part(‘loop’, $_GET[‘format’]);
  • 21. Example
    You have built an events management WordPress theme using custom post types for events, sessions, speakers, attendees, and venues.
    Now your conference attendees want to use their smart phones or tablets during an event to manage their schedules, rate sessions, etc.
  • 22. Allowing for Third-Party Development
    Every new “app” is just another instance of a group of your users interacting with your content or service
    Twitter would not be were it is today without an API which allows users and developers to interact with Twitter’s services on their terms
  • 23. Post Rank vs. Page Rank
    The tide is changing from searchability to shareability
    SEO is still be important, but what is more important is how accessible and shareable your content is from multiple devices, apps, and social networks
  • 24. Other API Implementation Ideas
    Use the API calls for AJAX reloading from within the context of the WordPress theme
    Use in conjunction with other query string parameters to determine the post type, posts per page, sort order, etc.
    Be sure to output the correct headers to the browser in the cases where the requested formats are like JSON, XML, or downloadable files
  • 25. Write It Yourself or Use KickPress
    The KickPressplugingives WordPress a public API for content distribution across multiple platforms and devices
    Makes creating and using custom posts types and taxonomies easy
    Focuses heavily on the publishing of a wide variety of content types (videos, books, events, reviews, authors, contacts, etc.)
    Enables strong social media integration through a urlshortner, social sharing links, and a social sharing toolbar
    Enables content aggregation from across the web into a local news feed
    Enables content bookmarking by logged-in users
    Extends WordPress through hooks, themes, and plugins, without the need to modify the core source code and/or database tables
  • 26. WP + API = { }
    Beta release coming soon: