There are times when we need a web app but don’t have the time, skill and budget for custom development. Although, developing from scratch can be the solution for many problems but at the same time it takes much longer than starting from an existence code base. Now WordPress originally designed as a blogging platform even today continues to emerge as a full-fledged content management system (CMS). In fact, it may even interest you to know that it can even produce a solid looking web application. The following post emphasis on benefits of building a web app on WordPress and how to build one.
Web apps require to be custom coded from the scratch. However, there are numerous web application frameworks available to make the process of building web apps easier. As per Wikipedia, a web application framework is the one which is designed to support the development of web applications including web services, web resources, and web APIs.
Though not specially designed for that, WordPress do have certain features that make it a solid choice for your web apps. They are:
- Security, user registration, and login- WordPress is such a platform that comprises of user roles, especially the ones which by default belong to one of five access levels. Besides, they can be assigned to different capabilities (for e.g. edit posts).
- Database and URL mapping- WordPress enables one to easily connect to its database and run queries. One can easily modify how URLs are generated using pretty permalinks and add or modify the rewrite rules.
- Theming- WordPress themes offer a very flexible means of designing pages for your app.
Tools Used for Building Web Apps in WordPress
The platform itself offers numerous built-in features that can be used for web apps but there are times when one requires additional functionality. The built-in page and post structures can be used for a lot of things, but if you need custom data and fields to be added, searched or queried, manipulated, and displayed, some additional work is needed. Luckily, tools do exist to help expand on WordPress’ native capabilities.
Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)
The tool is available for free and has been a long-standing favorite of WordPress developers especially when it’s about adding custom data functionality to WordPress. ACF generally provides a way to create a wide range of custom data fields such as checkboxes, images, relationships. Besides, it can be easily loaded through simple APIs.
Toolset allows one to add custom types and fields to the WordPress admin and create ‘parent/child’ relationships between different types in order to build relational-type databases. In addition to this, custom page templates and archives can be created for displaying searchable custom data. The tool even includes built-in functionality for creating front end forms in order to submit content and edit.
WordPress REST API
Most of the developers would agree with the fact that WordPress for web apps wouldn’t be complete without considering the REST API, especially with a non-WordPress front end. Besides, it may quite interest you to know that the tool has successfully moved from a plugin into WordPress core. More development in the area will be seen as the code matures.
Web Apps Built on WordPress
Pressbooks – Randal Walker
It is an online book production software that features both a hosted version as well as a WordPress plugin. Which means one can create a book online and then export to various file formats for book publishing. Pressbooks simply focuses on content and therefore, it is Built in WordPress using customized admin screens for managing book information.
Focused on Fit – by Nina & Nate
As the name implies, it is an online fitness community built on WordPress. Some of the interesting features include a database of food and recipes with nutritional facts and ability to log your meals and exercise and track your progress toward your goals. It goes further and uses the REST API to pull that particular data into mobile apps for the use. The social aspect and user management make this a good use case for WordPress.
TraffiMedia – by eTatvaSoft
They are the global leading online marketing service providers to the entrepreneurs, affiliates, and webmasters. The client required a completely modern and user-friendly designed website featuring multiple sections to display services. Aiming their requirements, the WordPress development company had gone an extra mile by creating a web app which has helped in communicating their status as the leaders in the digital world.
Hello Bar – by Neil Patel
It is a Software as a service (SaaS) platform designed to help users monetize their websites by simply building an email list. Further, it provides you with ways to promote content, get more and more subscribers and measures to test whether the campaign is effective or not. With the help of WordPress’ built-in user management with custom themes and plugins, they succeeded in providing an experience that looks nothing like WordPress.
Train.rs – by Community Members
It provides online business management for personal trainers. If used as a foundation, WordPress has the potential to give its users hosted websites with a customized administration of clients, training schedules and billing. With the sole focus on users and custom data, WordPress makes easy work of this app.
In a nutshell
WordPress isn’t always going to be the best tool for all types of web apps but it can work for simple CRUD (Create, Read, Update, delete) apps.