A Day of REST Boston: Wide Awake

March 21, 2017 in SiteLock News

A Day of REST Boston was a one-day conference all about the WordPress REST API. Speakers included members of the team who are building the REST API, and developers using it in production websites. Attendees learned how to use the REST API for their projects, along with insights into best practices, tools, coding, and specific use cases.

Why the REST API in WordPress is Important

If you’re not familiar, the REST API provides API endpoints for WordPress data types that allow developers to interact with sites remotely by sending and receiving JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) objects.

In other words, this allows developers to “decouple” the frontend from the backend and utilize WordPress as an application framework. By doing this, developers are free to use any code or web technology they prefer as it opens up a world of opportunity for software developers.

A Day of REST: First Impressions

This event was held at the Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts. It was clear the organizing team was meticulous with their planning and took full advantage of hosting an event at this beautiful theater..

The registration process went smoothly thanks to the helpful volunteers below.

The Sessions

Tom Willmot, Co-founder and CEO of Human Made, kicked things off with a great introductory explanation of what the day was to include. He also talked briefly about each business who helped sponsor the event, SiteLock included.

Backbone & The REST API: A Love Story

Adam Silverstein, Lead Engineer at 10up and WordPress core committer, talked about the Backbone JavaScript library and why it’s perfect for building WordPress frontend and backend features. He also discussed why Backbone is used so extensively in WordPress core, and why it works perfectly with the REST API.

10 REST API Use Cases in 10 Minutes

The REST API is still relatively new to WordPress and since it’s inclusion in core, many have discussed the theoretical uses, but not many have talked about using it in production and exactly how that is done. John Eckman is the CEO at 10up, a distributed digital agency known for building large scale and complex sites utilizing WordPress.

John showed us real world examples of the REST API in use for large clients. Those examples included content syndication across a multisite environment, location-based personalization of content, and powering mobile apps.

This session was eye-opening, and I expect there were a lot of other “ah-ha!” moments from developers.

Great Expectations: How to Prepare Non-Developers for a REST API Project

Petya Raykovska’s, Senior Project Manager at Human Made, session was my personal favorite. She discussed how the benefits of delegating tasks by code is great for developers, but not great for designers and content producers if developers don’t pay attention to their unique needs during a REST API build.

She used the event website as an example of what could (and did) go wrong when there was no communication between developers who built the site, and those needing to create content.

Organizers wanted to build the site using the REST API, which made complete sense given the subject matter of this conference. So they built a custom frontend powered by API calls, complete with showing the actual API request at that bottom of each page. Pretty snazzy.

However, developers didn’t account for other users having the need to login and add content using the standard WordPress admin areas. As a result, the following issues occurred:

  • Couldn’t edit menus
  • Couldn’t use previews
  • Could not impact the frontend in any way
  • Each small change needed a developer

As more platforms utilize the REST API, it’s critical that developers, designers and content creators emphasize greater communication to avoid pitfalls.

In Summary

A Day of REST was a great event for beginner and advanced developers, and also for those of us using the platform as content creators, marketers and businesses. The possibilities with the REST API are endless, and we’re excited about the future of WordPress as an application framework.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for live updates at our next event. And for more from past events, visit the SiteLock blog!

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