DiggingIntoWordPress

by Chris Coyier & Jeff Starr

Will This Work With WordPress?!?!

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Yeah, it will.

This is something I find myself answering a lot. Excuse the snarky introduction to this post, my real goal here is to attempt to clarify what will and will not “work” with WordPress.

WordPress is a PHP application. PHP is a server-side language which does all the work that applications need to do: putting and retrieving things from the database, applying logic, communicating with the server, etc. What is important to understand is that’s all WordPress is. On the front-end, WordPress imposes no restriction whatsoever on what HTML, CSS, and JavaScript you want to use.

Wanna use a cool JavaScript accordion tutorial you found to build a widget for your sidebar? Go for it! WordPress doesn’t care. You could even fill up your accordion with a tag cloud, list of categories, and random posts from your site, all with the help of built in WordPress functions.

Find some technique about CSS rounded corners? Yes, that will work with WordPress. Find some technique for doing client-side form validation? Yes, that will work with WordPress. Wanna write your own contact form? Go for it, WordPress won’t mind.

But how?

That of course depends on what it is you are doing, but let’s look at a common example. You want to build an accordion in your sidebar, and you are going to use the jQuery UI example. There are a couple of pre-req files you’ll need, namely the jQuery library and the UI plugin. First you should add jQuery to your page the right way. Then you’ll download a custom copy of jQuery UI with the modules you’ll need. Put that in your theme folder. Then you’ll need one last JavaScript file to initiate the accordian. Create that and put it in your theme folder. Then load up both scripts using wp_enqueue_script. Then of course you’ll need to put the HTML markup somewhere. Since this is for your sidebar, you’ll put it in sidebar.php, and call it a day.

Except…

So 95% of all the times I hear people asking if something will work in WordPress, it’s a front-end technique that absolutely will. The other 5% are questions regarding server-side technologies. Can you run WordPress as a Python application? Uhm, no. Can you use a PostgreSQL database instead of MySQL. More reasonable request but, no. Can you use Less CSS with WordPress? That requires Ruby. It’s not impossible to run both Ruby and PHP on a server so yes, theoretically that’s possible although I haven’t tested it.

In short…

All this jibber jabber to hopefully get one small point across. WordPress doesn’t care what you do on the front-end.

12 Responses

  1. Mike Badgley August 11, 2009

    Does commenting work in WordPress? ;)

  2. I have done a fair amount of developing using WordPress as the backend CMS. As of yet, I have found nothing that I could not accomplish with WordPress.

  3. Will it toast my bread?

  4. how about flash (I know I need a plugin), how abou flash banner on sidebar?

  5. Chris, any suggestions how do I embed .swf in wordpress, I’ve tried everything, no luck.

  6. Darfuria August 13, 2009

    I think the only thing that isn’t fantastically produced with WordPress is a large-scale e-commerce store. That’s becoming easier to do with plugins such as Shopp, but it’s still not brilliant.

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