BackPress Revival Receives Rocky Reception from WordPress Development Community

photo credit: Ryan McGuire
photo credit: Ryan McGuire

BackPress supporters hosted a preliminary discussion yesterday to flesh out plans for bringing the long-abandoned project back to life. Organizers Roy Sivan and John James Jacoby were surprised by how many developers were interested in the prospect of reviving BackPress. Unfortunately, the live Google Hangout wasn’t broadcasted publicly and was limited 10 people, which gave the group a rocky, disorganized start on a closed channel.

WordPress lead developer Andrew Nacin joined the discussion briefly before it started to say that BackPress, which he characterized as “five year old vaporware,” is “terrible and should be thrown away.” His view reflects many others – those who may see the value in making WordPress more modular but don’t believe that investing in BackPress is the way to get there.

“I think that all the objectives here can be accomplished without doing it in a separate project,” Nacin said.

“If you want to make a big difference in WordPress, then go contribute to the REST API. This isn’t it.”

Ryan McCue, one of the lead developers on the WP REST API project, joined the discussion to encourage BackPress supporters to consider making it into a feature plugin, which he believes would be a more productive avenue for radical experimentation.

Sivan pointed out that the problem with this path is that it still requires the use of a plugin, whereas BackPress is meant for developers who don’t want to have to install WordPress and plugins in order to experiment with it.

Responding to commenters on yesterday’s post, Sivan summarized his thoughts about pursuing BackPress as a feature plugin:

I think the takeaway from today is to decide what it is the development community wants out of WordPress, and see if feature plugins are the way to go, or if there is some validity in building out this system (whatever it may be called) as what we hope can be re-integrated into core at some point. Whether that means taking backwards compatibility into account or not has yet to be seen.

“It would probably be better to start from scratch; it’s not even close to up to date with current WP code it was meant to emulate,” Matt Mullenweg said in response to the idea. “It’s a fun experiment regardless, especially if people don’t think of it as Official WordPress Policy or Future (which it isn’t).”

After nearly three hours of discussion about possible ways forward, those present concluded that it would be best to reconvene next week to identify the problems that BackPress would solve. Most of those in attendance were developers passionate about creating a more flexible, modular WordPress and willing to see if a BackPress revival could be a possibility for addressing that.

Organizers created a GitHub repository for exploring a new BackPress and will meet every Tuesday at 2PM PST. Anyone interested to join the discussion can participate on the new #backpress Slack channel, hosted at https://advancedwp.slack.com.

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15 Comments


  1. I’d be happy to listen to the pros and cons of reviving BackPress, fundamentally as one of the bbPress team who hasn’t delved very deep at all into the code base of bbPress 1.x, reviving BackPress or not I think this would be a fun exercise for me personally…

    My big complaint here is how and where this discussion is taking place, first it started on Facebook, I’m not joining Facebook so I can talk about BackPress, then a Google hangout limiting participation, and now an “AdvancedWP Slack” instance where I must be invited to by an administrator to talk about BackPress, again this isn’t going to happen.

    BackPress is an open source project and I’d like to see this discussion in the open and publicly available to anyone who would like to contribute to this discussion.

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    1. I’m open to other channels of communication / discussion. The Hangout was totally my fault, but even if it was public, there is a max amount of users on Hangout at a time, which I think is 10 or so. We are going to make it an “ON Air” Hangouts next time so at least it will be publicly viewable by anyone, and recorded. I will have to limit who gets invited so contributors who want to talk / discuss can do that.

      We talked about an IRC channel too, but that was thrown out pretty quickly.

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    2. Cant demand to much at this stage. Its just starting we’ll see how it goes with where and how discussions takes place.

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    1. send an email to matt (at) wordimpress (dot) com and just ask for an invite tot he slack account, and join the #backpress channel.

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    1. We have created a glitter, but are using it specifically for when we have our hangouts. I won’t be paying attention to it TOO much and prefer everyone join the slack channel. I figure if you can wait for an invite, it means you are willing to give good feedback, I don’t need random trolls and spammers.

      https://gitter.im/royboy789/helium

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    2. Glittler created. We will be using it for mainly hangout session chats, and prefer if you really want to commit and be part of the core conversation, to wait for an invite after emailing Matt.
      gitter . im / royboy789 / helium

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  2. Whilst back press is a great idea. This makes no sense as a standalone project. Really core itself should look to back press itself. WordPress desperately needs to be modularized.
    Wp core should choose a release (say 4.6) and as part of that release make itself properly modular and stick to being modular for all future releases. However if that doesn’t happen there is no point trying to to do this as the backpress guys will constantly have to play catch up.

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    1. I agree with you. A lot of effort put directly into the REST API and into core itself make things better for everyone, including those who want what BackPress tried to promise (and never delivered on).

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  3. I rolled my eyes at the reactions from the core devs to the BackPress revival. You know, the universe doesn’t revolve around you.

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  4. This post title is a bit missleading. If it had said; “… rocky reception from people affiliated or part of Core development” it would have more truth to it. There are alot of discussions going on with the project. Whatever comes out of the discussions about Core and how it could be improved, the discussions themselves are very enlightening and informative for those interested in development and best practices.

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  5. I actually think there should be a FrontPress, instead of a BackPress.

    Here’s an example of such a project:
    https://github.com/jgrossi/corcel

    What I mean by that is all WordPress files do not need to be loaded on the frontend to display some data, like they currently are.

    Things like the WP REST API would make perfect sense for this. Currently, the WP REST API is built out as a WP plugin, so you will require all the bloat that comes with loading WordPress in order to receive and respond to API requests.

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