Last week we ran an Ask the Reader post, and the question was, “What Major New Feature or Change Would You Add to WordPress?” This is something of a hot topic, given that the recent 3.4 release came complete with the brand new theme customizer – a huge addition.
Personally, I feel that there were a multitude of other things that the development team could have worked on in place of the theme customizer. But opinions will always vary, and just because I‘m not interested in the theme customizer, doesn’t mean that developing it wasn’t a good move.
But it is always fun to discuss and debate. With that in mind, I thought that today would be a good opportunity to round up all of the core feature ideas you suggested, throw in a few of my own, and put together a case for five of them. Enjoy!
My Thinking Behind the Top 5
Adding anything to the WordPress core is a big move.
In my opinion, any new feature should (a) be useful for the majority of users, and (b) not offer up any kind of restriction to those who might not need it.
If these two criteria are not met, you could put up a compelling argument for such functionality being more appropriate as a plugin. Therefore, you could argue that any WordPress user will have a strong opinion on an addition to the core that one could objectively state is better off remaining as a plugin. There could be a specific plugin that I love and use every day, but if 80% of other WordPress users wouldn’t give it a second thought, it’s not a candidate for core inclusion.
In picking my top 5, I have kept the concept of “mass appeal” in mind, as I’m sure WordPress’ developers do when brainstorming additions to the core.
5. Built-in FTP
We now live in an era of cloud computing. I have personally spent the last couple of years transferring to “the cloud” – using services such as Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote, and even Spotify. It is great to know that you can access any of your files from anywhere in the world.
And that is one of WordPress’ strengths – for the most part, you can access and edit your site from anywhere in the world. I would argue that WordPress should aim towards making the use of any third party software redundant when it comes to building your site. With that in mind, I believe that built-in FTP would represent a step in the right direction.
After all, we’re not that far away from this kind of functionality – you can of course upload and download media files, access and edit your theme’s files, and so on. But Mario believes that a centralized FTP interface would be a wonderful addition to the WordPress core.
4. Advanced Code Editor
When I first started using WordPress, I was stunned by its complete accessibility. It took me a while to understand that the code I was looking at in the built-in editor actually represented the guts of my site – that I was free to edit as I saw fit. But the built-in code editor isn’t exactly user-friendly – there no color coding, code line numbering, and so on.
What would be great is something like this:
That is of course a plugin – Advanced Code Editor. Whilst it is a little rough around the edges, it is a huge improvement on the completely vanilla code editor that comes packaged with WordPress.
I can’t think of any good reason why the built-in code editor shouldn’t be spruced up to match the kind of interface you would expect to see in any desktop code editor software.
3. Increased Security
Security has been a hot topic for WordPress users for some time now. And that is to be expected – after all, there are millions and millions of WordPress blogs out there – it’s a big target.
With that in mind, JoAnn put forward an argument for integrating better security measures within the WordPress core.
There are plenty of extremely popular security plugins available. Whilst I am no security expert (far from it), surely there is a case for additional security features to be built into the core? Even something as simple as the ability to easily change the wp-admin root folder (as suggested by Rhys) would be a welcome addition.
2. SEO Features
Who isn’t interested in SEO? Whilst we are big fans of DIY SEO and taking simple SEO steps, we all want to optimize our WordPress sites so that they have the best possible chance of ranking highly.
And whilst WordPress doesn’t ignore SEO, it doesn’t seem to give it a great deal of thought. With the likes of WordPress SEO by Yoast and All in One SEO Pack attracting well over 13 million downloads, Steven feels that there is a very strong case for building more advanced SEO functionality into WordPress. It would seem to me that close collaboration between say Joost de Valk and the core developers could result in well-integrated SEO functionality.
We know that site speed is incredibly important. And when it comes to speeding up your site, the first suggestion almost any WordPress user will give you is “install a caching plugin”. It’s a no-brainer.
And just like their SEO counterparts, caching plugins are enormously popular. The top four caching plugins have attracted more than 5 million downloads collectively. Why shouldn’t WordPress come with default caching functionality?
What Didn’t Make the Cut?
The above five weren’t the only suggestions made. Other interesting ideas included:
- Contact form functionality
- Widget page assignment a la Widget Logic
- Link redirects
- Fully-fledged development environment
- Better media management
And there are no doubt many other features that one could argue deserves inclusion within the WordPress core.
Now it’s over to you – what do you think of my top 5 pick? Do you think there are reasonable arguments against their proposed integration within the WordPress core? Or do you think that there are more worth candidates for inclusion? Let us know in the comments section!
Creative Commons images courtesy of officer2975 and hendriko
I’ve already got a fine SFTP client (Cyberduck), so I have no need for one built into WordPress. I also have a fine color-coding code editor as well (BBedit). I agree with some previous posters that virtually all developers will already have these 2 things. What I would appreciate if built in:
1) Better security. Many sites were hacked by the timthumb.php exploit, so theme checking would be sweet. Many sites are also constantly under attack by robots trying to login as “admin”. WordPress shouldn’t even have a default admin username. In addition, the contents of .htaccess on *NIX servers could be tested and recommendations offered.
2) Complete backup and clone capability. This needs to be all files plus the database.
3) Better image gallery functionality. While the built-in functionality works, it’s clunky and unintuitive compared to NextGEN Gallery, which should be worked into core.
4) SEO features. Monitoring of the results in the Dashboard would be ideal.
5) Better separation of the roles of administrators and users for those of us who build and maintain sites for clients. Example: route comment moderation emails to the post/page author, not the site admin. Now you need a plugin for that.
I don’t think NextGEN is intuitive at all… I think it is the clunky one. WP gallery isn’t clunky, it’s just too simple in it’s default configuration for some people and so not sufficient for users without PHP knowledge.
All fair comments. I’m curious about backup though – would this be to an external source? If so, how should WordPress handle that?
Services like ManageWP.com allow you to backup to FTP, or to an Amazon S3 account. So I’d imagine we’d be able to choose where to store it. SFTP, Amazon, Dropbox, are all valid places to store a backup off site.
Honestly, FTP and code editor are two things most developers have on their own. There are plenty of editors out there that let you edit directly on the server, and have built in FTP and SFTP. I personally have my own favorites. It’s not needed in the core in my opinion. The core should be about the product functionality, not how developers interact with that functionality.
One of the biggest fails for WP in my opinion is the media management. The fact that an image can only have one parent , aka attached to one post, is a big failure. I’d like to see cross reference table to allow multiple uses. A “duplicate” option would allow us to create an instant copy of a media item and apply new titles / captions.
Multiple image attachment parents is a great idea!
Interesting points, but isn’t how developers interact with functionality the key reasoning behind the theme customizer? Or am I misinterpreting your words?
No argument from me regarding media management.
Tom, I really think the Theme customizer was created for in-betweens, people who are not novice, but are also not developers. The options are still limited for most heavy developers to consider using it.
I look at it like WYSIWYG web design, it’s meant to make things easier for beginners, but for true developers it just adds another layer of code that is most likely unnecessary.
My thoughts exactly, and I suspect that Automattic will continue to develop along those lines, as they ultimately want to attract as wide a crowd as possible (i.e. novices).
Not sure if that previous comment got attached to the comment I was replying to or not… Anyway, was obviously talking about FTP again.
Maybe, but I don’t see how… There might be a way to check for errors before saving and not letting people save errors, which would be best. I don’t think you could run an integrated FTP in the presence of a fatal error because every page of WordPress is rendered using PHP, so to not be susceptible to errors it would need to be written in a different language, in which case it might be attached to WordPress, but not really integrated.
Yeah I agree with stirlingmedia and kristarella…. built in FTP & advanced code editor would be great for me! But sounds a bit dangerous if clients have access to it…. maybe have to use in conjunction with role editor?
Good suggestion – that would be easy enough.
That advanced code editor sounds interesting, would save time editing locally and then uploading files by ftp all the time.
Though I guess it’s best practice not to edit a live site anyway.
Why not – live on the edge 😉
I agree with caching and advanced code editor! They’d be great. Built in FTP sounds scary because one tiny PhP error (like missing a semicolon) will kill the whole site then you have to depend on 3rd party apps anyway (similar issue with making code editing too easy from the dashboard); it’s always good to have easy access via an FTP client and making it too easy not too might be dangerous for some peeps.
I thought of this Kristarella, and was wondering whether there would be a way of “failsafing” integrated FTP so that it still operated in spite of any suspect PHP (a la 3rd party FTP clients).