WordPress is now a major player in the CMS field. This position is often explained with the WordPress baseline: democratize publishing. It is recognized that WordPress is an affordable solution to build an online presence. Its ecosystem (themes, plugins, hosted services…) is growing everyday and it even grows outside the strictly publishing business. It is not far from becoming a very reliable e-commerce solution or a even becoming a player in the LMS field. It is used by individuals and big brands alike. So let’s see how it address the “new” mobile world.

From Woo Commerce (eCommerce) to Woo Sensei (Learning Management System), Woo Themes pushes the natural boundaries of WordPress.

From Woo Commerce (eCommerce) to Woo Sensei (Learning Management System), Woo Themes pushes the natural boundaries of WordPress.

Mobile Themes

Building responsive websites with WordPress themes is now fairly common. You can also choose to have a specific mobile theme thanks to plugins such as WPTouch. So as soon as you use WordPress as a CMS, you may have a mobile online presence without too many problems. (Also, remember that your content has to be prepared for mobile consumption.)

But these are web solutions. We still build websites hosted on servers, which will be accessed with mobile browsers (meaning that you must have a connection to do so). We address the screen sizes problem. We can even have touch-enabled themes. But this is not the equivalent of an app residing on the phone itself.

The famous Smashing Magazine has deployed a very sophisticated responsive website.

The famous Smashing Magazine has deployed a very sophisticated responsive website.

 Mobile Publishing

If you want to publish on the go, you can use dedicated (free) apps available for iOS and Android.

WordPress mobile apps

These are native apps providing writing, reading and moderation functionalities. (They connect to your site through the XML-RPC WordPress interface.) These apps provide an adapted backend for publishing. They are not meant to be customized and released on app stores for users to read your content. (However they’re open source :-))

In recent versions the WordPress admin has also became responsive (meaning it plays nicely with various screen sizes).

WordPress admin when seen with a smartphone.

WordPress admin when seen with a smartphone.

 Connecting WordPress To Mobile Apps?

If you have decided to build an app and if WordPress is your CMS, you probably wish to capitalize on it to provide content to your app.

WordPress has been open to third party publishing for a long time thanks to its XML-RPC interface. This interface allows tools such as Microsoft Word to publish WordPress posts.

Some app builder solutions (e.g. Good Barber) draw on that functionality to bring WordPress content in apps through dedicated connectors.

Good Barber's WordPress Connector

However, JSON is often favored to XML-RPC when building web services for mobile and you will find numerous plugins bringing JSON to WordPress. There’s even an official project to bring it to the core of WordPress.

So we see that feeding an app with WordPress is perfectly feasible. In fact, there’s a lot of apps whose backends are WordPress installations. But at the moment, there is no real out the box solutions, or even a boilerplate, for that matter. It means that as soon as you’ll want to build something specific for you or your customers, you’ll have to get your hands dirty to create web services. You will also have to create the app which will be able to consume those web services (whatever technologies you use for that).

This is why here at UncatCrea, we try to develop a project that will be specifically done for WordPress. If you want to know a bit more about it: What is WP-AppKit?

Of course WP-AppKit is not the only project that aims to bring a WordPress based solution to build apps. It is interesting to see that a lot of them use WordPress and PhoneGap. Last year (2013) we saw the first articles about connecting these technologies and at the beginning of this year (2014), the first commercial offer has appeared: AppPresser. A quick review of the solution at its launch (Feb. 2014) here.

This article has been carefully edited by our friend Jenny Beaumont. A thousand thanks Jenny! All mistakes are ours.

Have something to say about this article? Great! Comments are there for that. Please remember that comments are moderared. SPAM or off-topics comments won’t be published.

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Published by Benjamin on July 23, 2014

Head of Digital for a press group, WordPress since 2008, WordCamp organizer, developer for the fun

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