Why WordPress Needs to Embrace Machine Readability

Benjamin J. Balter recently opined that WordPress needs to start better expressing content in a machine readable format. Balter begins with an explanation of REST: "The idea is simple: a URL should uniquely identify the underlying data it represents. If I have a URL, I shouldn’t need anything else to view or otherwise manipulate the information behind it. WordPress, for the most part, does this well. Each post is given a unique permalink (e.g., 2012-12-15-why-wordpress...) that always points to that post. The problem is, however, in WordPress’s sense, it points to the display of that content, not the content itself. When editing, for example, that same content may be represented as /wp-admin/post.php?p=1234, clearly a different URL, and if you’d like to programmatically access the underlying data (say to build a mobile app, or some sort of external widget), you’re pretty much SOL in terms of WordPress’s core vision."

He goes on, "Why does such a nuance matter? Take a look at the direction the net’s heading. We’re separating content (say, the post itself), from the presentation layer that holds it hostage (say the theme’s template), so that we can use it in many, many different ways without starting from scratch. This goes on behind the scenes in many ways you may not even notice, and that’s the point. By enabling programatic access of the underlying data, that same post can be read via a mobile app, a feed reader, posted to a social network, or even embedded within another site altogether. Websites are quickly becoming the curators of information, not simply the presenters of it. It’s a return to content management in its purest form. It’s exposing content as a service, and it’s coming whether we want it or not."

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Image: Courtesy WordPress