Post Formats is a feature introduced in WordPress 3.1 that enables themes to visually differentiate between types of content. A metabox with radio buttons was added in WordPress 3.6 to expose the feature to users and allow them to easily select a format. Since WordPress 3.6 was released, there has been little effort to improve the feature.
Morten Rand-Hendriksen teaches WordPress to thousands of people through Lynda.com. After spending time writing training materials for post formats, Hendriksen was reminded of how much post formats shouldn’t be in WordPress core.
After the termination of Post Formats UI, it appears the feature has largely been left to pasture and implementation across themes is at best spotty and inconsistent. One example of this is how different Post Formats are treated in the default themes, culminating in the minimalist/absent inclusion in Twenty Fifteen.
Hendriksen lists six key arguments that come up when discussing the removal of post formats from WordPress:
- Feature support is inconsistent across themes causing users to wonder why the panel and options appear and disappear when themes are switched.
- When implemented, behavior is inconsistent between themes causing a perception of arbitrary or broken behavior in the eyes of the user.
- Specification for what exactly each post format does is vague and ambiguous giving theme developers too much room to come up with arbitrary and non-standard behaviors that cause user confusion when themes are switched.
- The use case for Post Formats seems to have gone away or have been supplanted for the larger goal of making modular, Snowfall-like post editing available.
- Post Formats behavior can be mimicked by theme developers through the use of Categories or other custom taxonomies.
Applying the 80/20 rule to software development, Hendriksen believes post formats is in the 20% range or lower. He ends the ticket by proposing post formats be moved into a feature plugin.
This would allow it to be improved concurrently with WordPress and open up opportunities to experiment with different implementations and ideas. Alternatively, it could be abandoned if no interest is shown to improve it.
Move Post Formats to a Plugin
My opinion of Post Formats hasn’t changed since the last time I wrote about them. They’re still unpredictable, I don’t see many sites using them, and they’re tough to explain to new users.
Considering post formats dramatically impact the presentation of content, it’s strange that the core team has not continually improved the feature after 3.6. By now, they should be rock solid. Instead, it’s a feature with no obvious future.
Although you can leave a comment on this post, the best place to leave feedback is in this trac ticket. It’s time WordPress core developers got involved with the conversation to let us know what they think about the future of post formats in WordPress.