I've got a not-so-uniqie design challenge that I think a lot of people like me are thinking a bit about right now. To where am I moving now that I've become disillusioned with Twitter? I have talked a lot about my excitement for the metaverse, and am certain that, at least in some fashion, I'll be working with that. But the reality is, I am done with publishing content on social media first I'm tired of having my identity on someone else's website first.
I want literally everything I publish to either come from my site, or end up getting stored on my site to serve as the canonical location for that content. For me, I think the way forward to accomplish that is with WordPress. I mean, it's an obvious choice, really, so why did it take me so long to come around?
The answer is simple. Publishing on WordPress with your phone has historically been terrible. For me, this is a lot of the reason why I ended up mostly publishing micro content through Twitter (and now Mastodon) - their apps were leaps and bounds ahead of WordPress in this regard. It was never a "good" option, even then I hated it, and resented these truths, but it was better than trying to do it with WordPress.
I mean really, who wants to log into their WordPress website, visit the dashboard, click to create a post, and go through the whole process for a quick micro post that should be a quick thing? It just doesn't make sense. But, you can see that historically speaking, WordPress at least had interest in serving as this for everyone with things like post formats (I'll come back to that).
With renewed curiosity, I re-visited the WordPress app, and was delighted to find the significant progress they have made since I last tried it out many, many years ago. The block editor has come to the app, and the editing experience is really good, I think. In fact, I have published a few of my recent posts directly through the app, instead of using the website, and it's working really well for me. So far, so good!
Unfortunately, it seems like custom post type support is never freaking coming to the app, which I believe is hands down the biggest reason why the app has never seen widespread adoption. Seriously, when was the last time you went to a WordPress site that had no custom post types in it? Never, that's when.
This means that if I want to use my phone to publish micro content, it absolutely must use the default post type. This sucks, because that means all of my micro content will show up in the same feed as my blog content, and I really don't want that. But hey, I'm a WordPress professional. If anyone is equipped to overcome this, I'm certainly among them.
I started digging around the site a bit, and found that you can still set the post format on a blog post through the app. Yep. The super obscure, technically deprecated, rarely supported feature of all things, is natively built into the core WordPress app. Technically speaking, this is good enough for me. I can query the database against a post format just as easily as a custom post type, after all.
And let's be real, I'm not exactly planning on using a typical WordPress theme. Whatever I do, it's gonna be custom. So, guess who's for two thumbs and is using post formats again? This guy, that's who.
So I guess with that, I'm looking at building a site with a few key editing features:
- I want micro content to feel as simple as writing a toot. The app is off to a good start with the help of post formats.
- Micro content should automatically create tags from hashtags
- Content should cross-post to social channels automatically
I think once those things are in place, I can realistically publish content from my site using the WordPress app, and I think the experience is goijg to be close-enough that I will hardly even notice.
I have a lot more I'm planning on doing, such as publishing content from all of my different blogs from this same single source, but I'll get into that another day. There's challenges there, too, and they're all focused on the limitations on what can be done with the native app.
Overall, the app isn't perfect by any means. It's still using XML-RPC, requires Jetpack, and unlike the platform it's built for, absolutely cannot be extended in any meaningful way. But, it is the best option we have right now, and I think it is over the "good enough" hump.
I'd figuratively kill for a good third party WordPress app that supports custom post types, and uses the mobile block editor. There's just so much opportunity here, and for some reason, nobody has tried to tackle it. I would pay good money for something like that. Give me a fields API plugin with an accompanying app that supports those fields natively in the app. Let me control the app experience with the WP Dashboard on the web. Charge me for this plugin. Trust me, I'll be at the front of the line.